A Sure-Fire Way to Tell If Your Furniture Arrangement is Wrong

Many people are not sure if their living room furniture arrangement is “right.”  Today I’m giving you a sure-fire way to figure that out – and it’s so simple!

corner fireplace

 

All you need to do is to take two photographs of your room.   Photo # 1:  Find the architectural focal point of the room, and simply take a photo facing it.  Yesterday I worked with a lovely new client on a new paint color palette for her home, but her living room furniture arrangement was definitely wrong.  She told me that she always struggled with coming up with the right arrangement for the challenging space, even after recently buying all new furnishings.  Here’s a photo facing the focal point – the fireplace:

DSC_5950

Living Room Before 

Yeah, this is all wrong.  None of the seating in the room address the focal point at all – my client just tried to work around it.  You’ll notice she has one of the most dreaded architectural focal points known to man:  the corner fireplace.  Now, let’s take another photo of the living room facing the focal point AFTER we rearranged the furniture:

corner fireplace furniture arrangement

 Furniture Rearranged

Please tell me you can feel the difference!  Photo #2:  The other photo you should take of your living room is one from the entry of the room.  This photo will help you see what your guests see when they enter the space and whether or not it’s what you want them to see.

DSC_5952

Living Room Before, from Entry 

 

The entry was constricted – you felt a bit squooshed as you moved into this room.  You couldn’t even see the architectural focal point upon entering, because it was obstructed by the large television cabinet.  The sofa and rug faced that cabinet, rather than the architectural focal point.  Now, here’s how the room looks from the entry after things were moved around:

teal sofa

Living Room from Entry 

Now you can see the beautiful new sofa, as well as the fireplace.  The sofa table now acts as a media console and the larger piece that previously held the television was moved into the adjoining breakfast room.  Doesn’t this entry view just welcome you into the room?

DSC_5957

Living Room Furniture Arrangement 

Of course, we are not done here!  We chose updated wall colors throughout the home to better complement the direction of my client’s newer, fresher furnishings.  The existing main neutral you see here is about the color of peanut butter and is too warm for the cooler furnishings my client finds herself attracted to.  We chose a dozen new coordinating colors to update the 6,000 + square foot home and squeezed in a living room redesign, all in one afternoon.

If you want to know exactly how to arrange your furniture and art in every room, check out my 2-hour online workshop that will teach you how!

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Christine
Guest

Great post! I, too, use photographs to help me ‘see’ what is working and what is not. It helps one see the room as a whole, rather than in pieces. The difference in the room above is stunning.

Lija
Guest
Lija

This is really helpful. I see the general challenge as being how to arrange furniture when your focal point and TV are not in alignment. Most would choose the TV to maximize ease of viewing. Focusing on the fireplace makes the room a much more enjoyable place to live, from these photos. I have the same challenge in my house and I want to try taking the photos and seeing how they look. Is there anyplace we can post them for feedback from you and your followers?

Ginger Garner
Guest

Great rearrange! What about for folks who have no architectural focal point (no fireplace, no notta) AND they have an open floor plan filled with windows and doors?
I know, I’ve just described two of the biggest decorating nightmares – and yes, they are both in the same living room.

Patty
Guest
Patty

Great difference! Much more welcoming. I hope you will post wall color options and the final results.

Rebecca Dimino
Guest
Rebecca Dimino

Hi Kristie,
Do you have a video about furniture arrangement for sale?
regards,
Rebecca

Lisa
Guest

I know mine is set up wrong but the room is impossible. It has the dreaded corner fireplace that is huge as well as a set of french doors to the porch and a large open doorway into the dining room, another small door opening, the front door and the stairs. It makes me nuts but I’m going to try this and see if I can figure something out. New furniture would be nice but it’s not happening until the dog dies and the kids move out!

Marilyn
Guest
Marilyn

You just described my house. How did you work it out?

MAO
Guest
MAO

Same here! Large sliding doors, corner fireplace, and lots of large windows, plus tv focal. It’s a nightmare to figure out a good layout :/

Jeannine
Guest
Jeannine

Didn’t she just love it?!
I hope the client was thrilled. Those pictures were very educational and what a difference you made!

Diane
Guest
Diane

I’d love to read more how the color palette was changed.
PS Awesome Blog!

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

Great job 🙂 I think I’ll take two pictures and see what you can come up with! It’s a definite challenge for my living room.

Tess
Guest

Nice work!! What a difference 😉

karin
Guest
karin

this article is exactly what I needed…will do the pictures….thanks

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

Thanks so much for this great advice! I’m doing it tonight when I get home. However, I’m not sure that I have an architectural focal point. I have one of those bland, open concept homes with a tiny kitchen, eating area and den all in one. There are corner sliding glass doors where the table is that makes a focal point, but that’s where the table and chairs go. I know my den arrangement isn’t the best, but I’m not sure how to proceed. The only other architectural feature is the cathedral ceiling – not sure how best to arrange… Read more »

Karen Albert
Guest

Kristie perfect advice!! There is such a difference!

2013 Designers Series featuring our friend Scot Meacham Wood!
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Karena
Art by Karena

Maxine
Guest
Maxine

Yes, the arrangement LOOKS better but what about the usefulness of it? I specifically refer to the placement of the TV. From the after picture from entry it doesn’t look like its facing any seating. The couch would be most comfortable but it looks like you’d have to crane your neck to see tv.

Mary J.
Guest
Mary J.

It looks so much better now. I think that moving the TV to a lower, less bulky table made a significant improvement. Now it doesn’t dominate or compete with the fireplace. I also don’t like TVs to be at a higher level where you have to look up rather than straight ahead to watch it. The other adjustments helped too. I like your point about being aware of the view of the room from the entry way. Your advice is so true and so simple…which is your style of decorating. It just makes sense. Thanks for covering this topic.

Lisa Grubb
Guest
Lisa Grubb

If you don’t have a fireplace but do have a big (ugly) bow window. Is that now the architectural focal point? I also have two large hitches in the living room. I’m guessing that’s a no-no.

Love your blog!

Lisa Grubb
Guest
Lisa Grubb

* hitches
Should be hutches.

Patty
Guest
Patty

Mounting a TV too high on a wall or above a fireplace is a big mistake. For comfort, a TV should be mounted or set on a table/console at eye level.

Cathy Z
Guest

Fantastic post today, really great tips! I am also very curious to see what tactic you’ll be taking to treat all those windows…keep the “afters” coming 🙂

Stephanie R.
Guest
Stephanie R.

Wow, the new arrangement made a huge difference. It looks so much more comfortable. Makes you want to go right in and sit a spell. I am going to try taking pictures as well. I know what the focal point is in the living room when you walk in the front door. We have a fireplace in the middle of a wall. I think I have the furniture arrange right, but there is always room for improvement. Thanks for an informative article.

Chez
Guest
Chez

Looks awesome! Those corner fireplaces are tough. We have one now and in our last home. In our current home, it took about 3 different arrangements over 6 years to (hopefully) finally get it right.

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

The first thing I noticed ( or felt) was “calm” associated with after pic. Before pic was busy and chaotic. Great tips, thanks!

Olga@StardustDecorStyle
Guest

Well… the dreaded corner fire place! That was my challenge as well, cause here in Greece most of the fireplaces are like that. You can take a look at the link below of how it looks and if you have any suggestions I’d be more than excited to hear them out!
http://www.stardust-decorstyle.blogspot.gr/2013/03/living-room-mini-makeover-finally.html
(first two photos are shot from the entry)

MarySue
Guest
MarySue

Thank you for this clear, concise, and do-able advice! I am going to take those two photos, and I am passing your blogpost along for sure! You definitely have a way of making it so simple!

Kelly
Guest

So much better Kristie! You updated the whole room with the furniture moves. You are magic my friend!

Julie S
Guest

This is a great, great tip -the kind of thing a real professional knows but that might not occur to the rest of us. I just took some photos of my living room a few days ago and inadvertently did what you describe in this post. By looking at the pictures, I realized I had some areas of clutter and some lack of focus (ha) on my focal point, and planned to tweak things to make it better. I posted about it here. http://figtreesundays.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/ambitions-the-living-room/

Custom Furniture Thousand Oaks
Guest

There are a number of ways to approach the problem that will help you to best arrange your living room furniture in the small area. By considering methods of arrangement that put articles of furniture in the middle of the room, you will have far more options for arranging your living room furniture in a welcoming and inviting way. Thanks!

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Tracey
Guest
Tracey

Love your post. I feel enlightened by the logic and simplicity of the changes you made. I’ve been buying and selling houses, renovating and decorating and ‘staging’ houses for years, and maybe I was getting it right some of the time, ( I am a graphic designer by profession) but your suggestions here are going to be my ‘go-to guide’ for decorating from now on. Thanks heaps. It’s a pity you can’t be in two continents at once – there are soooo many properties here in Australia that could benefit from your speed staging – Maybe you could franchise the… Read more »

Kirsten @ Wild Oak Stream
Guest

Hi Kristie, Wow this post is great! I love the transformation that it made to take those 2 photos and work from there. Its sometimes so easy to over-complicate arranging furniture. My current living room has been so problematic. I have 2 small children, so I want to keep it open, but it just feels BLAH. The front door opens into the middle of the room, and then the opposite side of the room is open to the kitchen/dining. I just can’t seem to figure out how to arrange furniture— is there any place to post pictures for some fresh… Read more »

Lisa E
Guest
Lisa E

Hello, great post and huge difference. We recently got new furniture and struggled with the placement as our new recliners have high backs. Definitely more comfortable but they block things. I have two focal points (fireplace and tv) and the added challenge of three doorways. Two are on either side of the fireplace which lead into the foyer and the other leading into the dining room. Last night, before I read this, I rearranged it three different ways, taking pics from all three entrances. I loved views from one point and not another. Happened with all three arrangements because of… Read more »

Rhoda Kindred
Guest

I love this….. Id like to post pics for some feedback sometime! What do you do if your livingroom is long and narrow with a very large picture window and entry door on the one long side and a whole wall fireplace on one of the ends….. the other long side has a half banister (top is open with rails to the kitchen and the other end is open to the wallway, dinning room and kitchen….. I might also add that the tv is inthe corner between the wall with the fireplace and the wall with the large picture window… Read more »

Heather
Guest
Heather

Thank you so much! I knew my living room furniture was totally “wrong”, and it has been driving me crazy for months now. I did exactly what you said and knew immediately what needed to be fixed! My living room looks much bigger and much more inviting. Arranging the furniture to be functional and still look nice with an “open” floor plan (living room, kitchen and dining room), four entrances into the living room, has perplexed me until now. Amazing!

espiègle trans
Guest

Magnifique article, je pense en discuter ce soir avec mes voisins

www2.activecambridge.ca
Guest
www2.activecambridge.ca

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about “arrange your living room furniture”.
Regards

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I wonder if you can help me. My lounge is so hard to place furniture in. I bought the house a year ago and haven’t decorated yet as I can’t decide how to place the furniture and thus what furniture I need!

It doesn’t help that the lounge it long with the fireplace set just off centre on the longest wall.

Perhaps it could be set out as two different useful spaces? A lounge dinner or lounge study?

Any hello would be so much appreciated. Now to figure out how I add photos?!

Clare
Guest
Clare

I am not sure what to pick as a focal point. I have a large built in tv nook next to a fireplace. Then on the adjoining wall, I have a very large picture window. How do I decide what the focal point is? I have it arranged as the window, but it just doesn’t seem correct.

Jen A.
Guest
Jen A.

Hi Kristie, This post excites me…I always love playing with furniture arrangement. But I have quite the problem and really need some help. I have a large, long living room, with a fireplace on one end and a wall with a closet on the other . Behind the darker green chairs is a very large set of windows. There is a very large opening into this room from the dining area, which is where I am taking the picture from. I honestly don’t know how to find a working arrangement…everyone I ask seems stumped too. Seems like two seating areas… Read more »

Franci
Guest
Franci

I love the sweet-faced kitty. Definite improvement in any room!

Franci
Guest
Franci

***MODERATOR*** Apologies for the previous post…you may remove it (please do). I only meant to comment. I did not realize it automatically and inexplicably attached a photo from my post (2 days ago!?!?!) until I’d already hit “post”. Sorry about that.

Daphne Harnum
Guest
Daphne Harnum

Love your article on furniture placement in a room with corner fireplace but I still need help. My room is large and the window is on the other side of the room to the fireplace. I was wondering if I sent you a picture would you be able to advise me.

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Ellie
Guest
Ellie

After rearrangement, the room may technically conform to someone’s design rules – but it is not livable. When you sit down on the sofa, you can’t see the fireplace, especially on a cold evening when there are logs on the fire. The people actually living in the house can’t see the focal point! The focal point is reserved for a guest entering the room. This is a house – not a museum or art gallery.

Luca
Guest
Luca

Best piece of advice I have ever read about how to sort out a room that “doesn’t look right”. Thanks a lot!

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Hello kristie
We’ve just moved into our new home two weeks ago
We haven’t got a clue where to start arranging our furniture and could really do with some help and advice
If I send you two pics could you help us ?
Thankyou in advance and hope to speak soon

aunt_chelle
Guest
aunt_chelle

Not sure this follows your advice, this room has always been very difficult

aunt_chelle
Guest
aunt_chelle

another angle

aunt_chelle
Guest
aunt_chelle

aunt_chelle
Guest
aunt_chelle

….

aunt_cehlle
Guest
aunt_cehlle

I tried with sofa facing TV, but when you enter the room from stairs or garage-you see the back of the sofa & with the sofa angled, it seems more open & inviting. The pic method does really work. Eventually furniture will be replaced, and then I will choose a smaller scale sofa. I thought high back club chairs to balance out the height of the fireplace ?

aunt_cehlle
Guest
aunt_cehlle

And thank you for the input. It was really nice how you helped everyone with the follow up questions.