Here’s Why You Might Want to Give This Layout Trick a Try, Even in a Small Space

published Apr 2, 2022
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Have you ever tried floating your furniture in a room? Often, in small spaces in particular, the tendency is to place all of your pieces on the perimeter of a room to gain precious square footage at the center of the floor plan. Surprisingly, though, this isn’t always the best layout technique.

While it may be seen as a bit unconventional, designers are actually pulling pieces away from the walls for a variety of reasons right now, and as long as you can move around your furniture easily with this kind of setup, you might consider floating your furniture, too. Below, six pros share the top five reasons why they think floating furniture can actually be a genius design strategy. Let their reasoning inspire you in your own home!

Credit: Hannah Mestyanek

Floating furniture can define an open area

When walls are at a premium — hello, open concept homes! — pulling your furniture away from the perimeter of a space can actually help you to create zones that provide a sense of separation to your rooms and improve flow. “People don’t realize, but floating furniture can help to define an area without having actual walls,” says designer Linda Hayslett. “When you float a sofa with chairs next to the piece in a space that’s open to the kitchen, it creates a divide that says, ‘This is the living room area.'”

Designer Molly Torres agrees, noting that she often floats chairs and sofas in open living areas to break up larger spaces, both visually and physically. Floating furniture can be especially useful in multi-purposes spaces, too. As designer Lauren DeBello explains, “Suddenly, a one large room can become a family room and a dining room,” and it’s simply because you’ve created groupings that feel more intimate due to the fact that pieces are closer together and not pushed to the extremes of the walls.

Designer Emily Ruff notes that rugs are a key part of the equation in these situations. “Rugs are your best friend when doing this, because it creates the defined area for the furniture to sit within,” she says.

Credit: Kim Lucian

Floating furniture can save space

Hayslett appreciates that placing furniture in the middle of a room often opens up other possibilities layout-wise. “Floating furniture is a great way to save space and create storage,” she says. “Walls are great for storage, so if you place furniture up against them, you take away that space to use as a bookshelf or placement for amazing artwork.”

Credit: Monica Roy

Floating furniture makes a room more cozy

DeBello finds the cozy factor that floating furniture introduces into a space particularly pronounced in living room applications. “Floating furniture can create more cozy spaces geared toward conversation,” she explains. “If furniture is placed against the walls, especially in a larger room, the pieces will be too far apart and not conducive to gathering.”

Designer Amy Youngblood agrees. “In an oversized living room, floating a couple sofas is a way to create a vignette of seating for more intimate conversation,” she says. “We see this trend in hotel lobbies, for example.”

Floating furniture makes a statement

If you really want to draw attention to a specific piece, floating it in a room is one way to do just that. “It’s almost like art,” Hayslett notes. The only thing to keep in mind here is that you don’t want compromise the flow of your space. Be sure people can safely and easily move around the room once everything is in its place, even if you park a chair or sofa somewhat near the center of the floor plan.

Floating furniture makes a space look airier

Again, it might seem counterintuitive, but pulling pieces off of the walls can actually visually open up a space. This has to do with depth perception and can be a great trick to utilize when you’re dealing with a particularly visually imposing item. “Floating a piece of furniture in a room allows for 360 [degree] interaction with the entire space and allows more heavy furniture, like a desk or a sofa, to feel more airy in a space,” designer Kristen Pena says. In the room above, she floated a desk slightly in front of the windows for this reason.

When it comes to desks in particular, Ruff offers a key piece of advice, “It is ideal to face the door to the room instead of having your back to people when entering the space,” she says. Now that’s sound layout advice, whether you choose to float your furniture or not!