Calculating Optimum Distance from Sofa to TV

updated Oct 3, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

In our previous apartment, the distance that we placed the sofa from the TV was essentially a nonissue — there was really only one spot where the placement of the screen worked, and it dictated the overall size of the TV. The sofa just went across from it, utilizing as much space as was available, no more and no less. But now, in our new place, everything is negotiable.

The living room is now very open, allowing for quite a variance in sofa placement, and the new TV location does allow for a larger screen overall. Since moving in and setting up the room layout, my family has been (not so) casually mentioning that our TV is either too small for the current layout or, to look at it a different way, that the sofa is too far away. I, who like both the TV and the layout just as it is, have been saying it’s 100% FINE.

I decided to do a little internet research on the subject to find evidence to have on my side, hoping that conventional guidelines would say that it is perfect as is. What I found were formulas that suggest just the opposite.

The Best Distance from Sofa to TV

We have a 32-inch TV, and the sofa is about 9.5 feet (115 inches) from it. Here are three formulas for determining “optimum viewing distance”:

3 x H : Place your sofa at a distance of three times the height of the screen (which in my case is 15 inches high). (From Geeksugar) This put my sofa at an optimum distance of 45 inches from my TV — crazy close!

1.5 x Screen Size: Place your sofa at a distance of 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the screen. (Dr Dave and Dee) This also put my sofa about 4 feet away – different formula, similar result – and way too close!

2.75 x Screen Size: Place your sofa at a distance of 2.75 inches away for each inch of diagonal screen size. (From IKEA) This formula puts my sofa at 82.5 inches from my TV – much closer to what feels comfortable and not claustrophobic, but still much closer than the actual current distance.

Judging from these rules of thumb, a TV should be gigantic for our sofa to be placed more than 9 feet away or, in the alternative, we should be sitting practically on top of our current tv to view it comfortably — and neither of these options is at all appealing.

So much for my attempt at using “one size fits all” guidelines to put this conversation to rest, because at this point it looks like round one is in danger of being called in favor of the TV salesmen.