Sometimes the most difficult home decorating decisions we make is how to place the items we already own. Placement of furnishings in a room can affect mood, the visual size of a room, and the functioning of the family. Being creative in arranging your room can also be a great way to set your living room apart from every other on the block! Here are some great easy furniture arranging tricks to try to give your room a whole new flavor in just an hour.

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How to Arrange Furniture

To prevent lifelong use of aspirin, save your back and work things out on the computer first! There are several great programs online that allow you to play with furniture arrangements for free. Try the room planner at Urban Barn, Arrange a Room at BHG, or the room planner at Pottery Barn. All three are simple to use and allow you to recreate your rooms, then try numerous arrangements. Want to do it the old fashioned way? Get some graph paper, and use a 1 square=1 foot method. Cut pieces of paper the size of your furniture pieces, and mark them appropriately. Now move the furniture pieces around the graph paper until you find an arrangement you like.

Try taking all the small items out of the room first, then concentrate just on the large scale items. Clearing the room can give you more focused picture of how those large pieces need to fit in relation to each other. In other words, since they are the biggest, they have the most important place in the room, so find the perfect fit! Then you can bring the smaller pieces back in one by one. This method results in a more grounded arrangement. Here is an example of a before and after furniture arrangement. Before was the typical “line the walls” arrangement. After is an example of using more than one seating area to add interest to a room.

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Try everything on the diagonal. Not all at once, mind you, but experiment with placing the whole arrangement on the diagonal, or if that doesn’t work, one piece at a time. (Include the area rug in this.) Placing pieces on the diagonal carries your eye smoothly through the room, so not only does it look larger, it looks more interesting. Infographic from ‘Fred Gonsowski Garden Home‘.

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Got a cramped room? You can still create cozier seating areas to make the room feel warmer and more friendly with a change in furniture arranging.

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Don’t block the view! Blocking the windows in a room with furniture severely limits the amount of light, which makes a room look small and cramped. Use low or small scale pieces in front of a window. Likewise, try not to block your view into a room. If the room is viewed most often from another room, keep the path of sight clear to make the space visually expand.

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Finally, just because you’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean you still have to. Maybe you don’t really need all the furniture you have crammed into that family room, and can pare it down. Or perhaps that big chair in your bedroom that does nothing but hold folded laundry would make a perfect reading nook  in the living room. Don’t be afraid to think of your furniture for different uses, and try new furniture arranging ideas! If you need other DIY furniture ideas, try our post on DIY bed frames or DIY thrift store furniture projects!

Image Credits: Pottery Barn, CafeMom, Fred Gonsowski Garden Home, How to Decorate


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49 Comments

  1. Natali McKee July 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I have a very awkward living room and I still haven’t figured out how to make it work.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Have you tried one of the online furniture arranging programs? Many of them are free, and you can put in your own walls and furniture sizes…

      Reply
      1. Becky October 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        Thanks for the idea. Can you suggest one? We move in 12 days — we’re 73 and shouldn’t be moving heavy furniture so will try to have the movers place it where it can stay. The floor plans for a corner fireplace may work well and I plan to do it on graph paper if I have a chance.

        Reply
        1. Janet Diehl November 20, 2015 at 10:41 pm

          First, get some help to put casters on all major furniture; sofas, dressers, beds, etc. Second make an accerate drawing of your rooms on graph paper; I find 1/4 inch squares for 1 square foot works well. Measure how much floor space each piece of furniture uses, label & cut them out- Use the graph paper for this too. Third; now start playing with the furniture pieces on your room drawing – lot easier than moving furniture even if it has casters.!! Enjoy your rooms.

          Reply
      2. angie February 23, 2015 at 5:15 am

        Our living room is primarily used as a tv room. Its a long room that is set up as an open concept formal dining and living room. We don’t use the dining area but repurpose it as an office area. The ‘focus wall’ in the living area has a large fireplace, the other two walls have large tall and wide windows. Our tv is 50 inches and we just can’t find a space for it without blocking a window or using the empty space between the dining and living area…which doesn’t have electrical outlets and would be flat out hideous. Any suggestions? Also, I’ve never seen free room design websites. Can you suggest a few?

        Reply
        1. Nikki August 16, 2015 at 5:59 am

          Hang the tv on the fireplace.

          Reply
          1. Kathy September 7, 2016 at 9:59 am

            What if the cable hookup is too far away? I had already thought of this

        2. Laurie September 13, 2015 at 9:30 am

          Have you thought about mounting your TV over the fireplace? Is the area above large enough to do that? I have seen it in a couple of room layouts online before. There’s a way to hide the cords, too. It’s requires being a little crafty but it’s nice. Or you can use one of those cord/cable cover kits and paint it to match if you want.

          Reply
        3. gayle September 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

          use an easel….they make them for big t.v.s….(Restoration Hardware)

          Reply
      3. Notsocreative April 6, 2016 at 2:13 pm

        Bhg requires full registration to even see a planner! These are the types of issues with these planning sites. And then they will take you anywhere except a simple planner tool.

        Reply
        1. Mackenzie July 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm

          Try Urban Barn … their room planner is free and pretty easy.

          Reply
    2. alma May 26, 2015 at 10:36 am

      my livingroom is long like the ppl that lived there made two rooms the livingroom so theres a arch in the middle of the whole livingroom its werid ugh as much as i think about it i cant seem to make itwork

      Reply
    3. Terri August 25, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      My formal living room is 25 x 13 with a fireplace on
      One long wall and a bay window on one end of the room and another really large picture window at the other end of the room and on the opposite wall of the fireplace is a smaller wall with entry ways on each side of it. One to the Fourier and one to the formal dining room. Still in a delima on where to place the furniture. Thinking about mounting the TV above the fireplace, any suggestions?

      Reply
    4. Ashlie Hayes July 10, 2016 at 8:24 am

      I have a situation that I don’t know what to do with. I have a step down living room with only one main wall, plus a bay window. I have a sectional sofa and a flat screen tv with tv stand (glass shelves) in that same space but on the step up is the dining room space. All one space with the exception that the step down s squares of the living room with all openness…

      Reply
    5. Patricia Ferrara August 13, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Me too! I have a long living-dining room with a fireplace in between two important doors (to the kitchen and the front hall), so I can’t put furniture in front of the fireplace without screwing up the traffic patterns. There’s also a big bay window on the long side wall. Nothing I have tried works well and looks good. Help!

      Reply
  2. Kaleigh January 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    In the hand-drawn example 1c you have a couch across from two chairs. Would it work to use a loveseat instead of the chairs in that same arrangement? I’m afraid it would seem too large in the middle of the room. Also, how would you place an area rug in that example?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard March 12, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      I think the loveseat could take the place of two chairs, since they are the same visual size! Experiment with placement in an online program to help you visualize it!

      Reply
  3. carmen February 19, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I have a small living room 13×10 which is open to the dining area and kitchen peninsula which holds 3 stools. I only have one wall where my sofa is and across is my TV cabinet. How can I make my room cozy and pulled together with the rest of the spaces?

    Reply
    1. gayle September 9, 2016 at 10:45 am

      pull your sofa away from the wall about1 ft…..put a thin….(make one)…..trestle table behind it with 2 small lamps on either end and mirror on wall…….also an “up light “behind sofa

      Reply
  4. Delores Lyon March 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I am planning on getting a new bed frame, but I think it will end up changing how all the furniture will look in the bedroom. The new frame is definitely bigger than the one we have now, so it may make the space feel more crowded. However, I’ll definitely play with one of these online room planners and see if I can’t figure something out.

    Reply
  5. Johnny Shi March 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I like what you said about not blocking the windows. I also like what you mentioned about arranging furniture to be in a cozy position. Never before had I thought about looking at arranging things to help them feel most cozy. For me it has always been, what is most practical. It will be interesting to see what changes I will want to make by looking at things that way. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Jeanine April 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I have 4 different entry ways and a corner fireplace in my living room. I am having a difficult time arranging a cozy room with clear paths. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      It’s difficult to say without seeing a photo, but have you tried floating an arrangement in the center of the room, and allowing traffic to flow around the edges?

      Reply
    2. Monique DC November 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Are all the entries equally used? If there is one that is hardly ever used, position a bench or an appropriate sized piece in from of the entry. If you use the tutorial above and show the traffic patterns of not just your living room, but the adjacent rooms, you may find you can re-direct the traffic flow.

      Reply
    3. Evelyn January 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Did you find a solution? I have the save problem, four entries and a corner fireplace. It is difficult arranging the furniture. All the entries are equally used. They are to the foyer, kitchen, baths & bedrooms, and backyard. The wall at the rear of our home is entirely sliding glass doors and corner fireplace. No furniture can go on that wall. The opposite wall has the foyer entry in the center and it is wider than the normal doorway.

      Reply
  7. bilqees omisanya August 31, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Please, I ll like to you to suggest online furniture arranging programmes for me,thank you

    Reply
  8. Janet February 10, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Hi Im really having trouble setting my livingroom out. It is small and narrow with 2 door ways on the same wall.
    The room measures 4.95m X 2. 94m
    There is a small window at one end measures 120 cms
    The wall with the 2 doorways measures 208 cms between the two doors.
    I am going to buy new furniture so it’s a blank canvas.
    I am desperate! Please can you help me?

    Reply
  9. G February 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Help! I have a rectangle living room with a front door and windows on one wall, a hall opening on another wall and a kitchen entrance on yet another wall. We only have one wall that is just a wall. Three couches are needed, tv and stand, coffee table and 3 end tables. All I can think of is to push everything up against the walls.

    Reply
  10. Mary March 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

    We have a unique situation….TWO pianos; one is a normal upright, but the other is an historic piece. The second piano is a square grand (4’x7′) that once belonged to Custis Lee and was in the Lee Mansion at Arlington…..so I will not part with it. The room is large enough for the two, but would be far more dramatic if i could move things around. The sq. grand take 6 men to move!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 3, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Wow. That is an arranging problem! The best advice I can give you is to never give up that historic piano, and make it the centerpiece of your room!

      Reply
  11. Pam April 5, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Could you please tell me should you use two identical chairs next to each other?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard May 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      If YOU like it, use it! Yes, designers do that all the time!

      Reply
  12. NotCreativeAtAll April 6, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I have tried – and even downloaded – several of these so-called room planners. They are more frustrating than physically moving every single piece of furniture, several times over, to get a real-life view, rather than trying to figure out 3D view programs. Maybe I’ll take a shot at one of the suggsted ones here. But I’ll tell ya – no more than five minutes of my life will I waste trying to move a piece of virtual furniture before it gets zapped away, won’t move, or won’t drag to where I want it. Lol! Good luck to the rest of you finding a good program. I’ll report back if I find one that even my Shepherd can use. Lol!

    BTW – I am purchasing all new furniture for my 12×10 living room – no fireplace but a beautiful bay window that I do not want to hide. Actually, besides the obnoxious sized tv on the wall, I want this bay window as my focal point too. My one problem is that my front door opens into the living room and there is a hallway opening directly across from that, splitting the living space. So……… I am putting a drop leaf table in this 3×7 space with one of my dining chairs (new too) and a small swagged chandelier above. This will give extra dining space when needed but daily will be a homework or reading area, or my sewing area. Whatcha think? It is my only creative plan – ever.

    Thanks for reading.

    Reply
  13. MtnAZ May 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    For those of you looking for a free furniture arranging site:

    It’s been a while–but this is the free site I used to plan furniture arrangement for Mom’s assisted living apartment. I’m not technically gifted and found this pretty straightforward.

    Have fun!

    Reply
  14. Kaia Santana October 30, 2016 at 3:45 am

    Thank you so much for this! You took away a lot of anxiety, question I want to build a book in my lichen and have the dining room as a play room but with couches, kind of like a living room with toys. If do what can I use the actual living room for? Also, if I knock down kitchen wall to connect the playroom and kitchen with nook how can I visually seperate the space? Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Kate November 4, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Nice tips. I was having arrange problems when I moved in to my new Apt. I got help from a company called Furnishr and they solved my problems of course. This company has nice designs as well, check out http://furnishr.com/

    Reply
  16. Laura November 6, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Hello, I want to create a conversation area (in my formal living space) with 5-6 chairs arranged in somewhat of a circle. Should the chairs match? For example be all leather but different colors? Or can the each chair be a mixture of leather or fabric as long as they compliment each other? Finally, I have two high back leather chairs, can I mix the height of the chairs? Thank you for you advice.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard November 10, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      We are ALL for mixing styles, heights, whatever… you’ve got the secret, as long as they compliment each other, and they are pleasing to YOUR eye, than go for it! It can help to have something in common, like all one color family… Good luck!

      Reply
  17. Sara November 28, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Hi! All great advice, but I still have a question haha! Can I arrange a couch on the diagonal in front of an opening to the next room? My living room and dining room are pretty open with only a large arch separating the two. However, the rest of the living room is awkward. I like the way the diagonal looks as it’s not blocking movement through the room. . .in fact, there is still a straight line from the front door to the dining area, but my husband isn’t so sure haha. Am I creating a “design no-no”, or is this ok?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard December 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      If it doesn’t impeded traffic or block a window, I say try it!

      Reply
  18. Patrick February 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I struggle with furniture all the time. I’m into sterio and home theater so my mom complains that my living room looks like a speaker lab. The house is 950 sq. ft. The living room is 12.1 x 20.6, no fireplace and no dining area. I either eat in front of the TV or at a bistro table in the kitchen. I love art deco style but available furniture is either to costly or too big. I haven’t found a free furniture placement guide. I just sketch everything over and over.. before I start moving things. I also keep trying to get the look I want with things instead of paint and floor and architecture.

    Reply
  19. Linda Olson February 28, 2017 at 6:38 am

    I am building a new house on the shore of a lake, so view is important and I chose a plan with upstairs and down window walls. I am planning a bedroom in the walkout basement which can open into the family room or into a hallway. I want a 6ft french door into the family room which will face the window wall for light and a view. I have done this before and installed curtains inside the room for privacy when I have guests. My contractor says no. Doors are a wall killer. Are blank walls more important than light and a view?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard March 7, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      What YOU want is more important than what your contractor wants! For me, having more light and view would be more important than breaking up a wall with a door! Hope that helps!

      Reply
  20. Emily May 2, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I would love to rearrange our living room to make it cozy yet functional. We currently have a love seat and recliner coffee table and two side tables. The room opens to kitchen and dining room. Has wall where stairs come down from upstairs, wall with fireplace in middle and the the third wall has a large window. I would like to be able to possibly fit a couch so when people come over we have more seating. I think if we out tv above fireplace it would be two high up. Currently it is in the corner by the wall where stairs come down. Any helpful suggestions for better placement of furniture. Can send a pic if you would like. Thanks

    Reply
  21. Christina Brewton May 14, 2017 at 4:14 am

    What a nice Article. I love Your Post…! This is very easy and awesome tips in your site. This is very Helpful tips for my living room decorations tips. I like Your Technique.
    Thanks for share Your Tips…!

    Reply
  22. Maggie September 19, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Help! My space is long and not deep: as you walk in the front door, a fireplace is directly (~1′!) on your right, a French door on your left, and the LR extends to an open concept dining/kitchen combo with an arched wall. I have a great, but oversized couch with chair-and-a-half to match, two wing backs, two side table, a coffee table, two dressers/cabinets… TOO MUCH stuff and I don’t know how to use it all and keep the paths (to door, from dining to french doored play room) open. Oh AND my husband of course wants the TV visible from the couch. :/ Any tips welcomed.

    Reply

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