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Arranging the living room’s furniture is one of those things that really makes or breaks a home’s functionality and feel.

If your table’s in the wrong spot so that every time you raise your window’s blinds you’re left grumbling, you haven’t exactly nailed the feng shui of the place, am I right?

Your furniture should aid you in having the life you want. You should be able to move smoothly through your space. You should be able to sit comfortably to watch TV, not strain your eyes when you want to read, and not find yourself constantly failing to put things away properly because it’s awkward to get where the thing goes.

living room antique furniture hardwood floors

Listen to Your Space

The odds are pretty good the way you lay your furniture out today will need tweaking as the months drag on. You can aim for perfect on the first try, but don’t be surprised if you miss the mark — it’s okay, it’s a process.

Lots of things can limit how or where you can lay your space out. Windows, architectural details like molding, wall outlet spots, and more will all offer constraints on your floor plan.

Know these limitations. There’s no use fighting them. Accept where things CAN’T go, then worry about where they can. You need to figure out the big pieces first, because chances are the spots will help you dictate this.

  • Where won’t it get in the way?
  • Where won’t it block daylight?
  • Where will you best be able to see it, if it’s a nice piece?
  • Where will its drawer/door open to, and will you have enough room there to use it to full potential without getting annoyed?

Design for your needs, not just guests

For your everyday piece of mind, be real about what your needs are. How many people are at your place on a regular basis? If it’s a family of four and visiting friends, then you need a nice central living arrangement for the day-in/day-out.

If it’s you and your spouse, but you entertain once every couple of weeks, all you really need in the middle of the room is a sofa and chair. You can push other chairs or sofas out and create separate spaces, so there’s more flow and function to your space. A reading spot here, a separate sitting area, and so forth. Those extra little spaces make a world of difference in how easy it is to live with others.

living room wood floors arch

It also just makes sense from a lifestyle point of view. I have three places I can write in, and I use them all. My work is different at each. I enjoy reading in different places because it’s better for my back to move around, so there’s a rocker by a window in my bedroom, and several other spots where having a book is a smart plan.

If you’re living with someone, or a family, you really need those spaces where people can have the feeling of being alone. It’s good for balance, especially when we’re all together more over the winter months.

You can always change things later

As time passes, pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. Embrace the fact that moving something just a few inches or a foot can make a big impact on your flow. Try it! Seek great lighting, work with what you have, and keep trying new placements if you’re not completely happy with things.

When it comes to love and riding a bike, people say you’ll just know when you’ve got it right. Laying out your furniture well kind of feels the same way. Suddenly, it just works. The space feels bigger, you feel like you can glide place to place. At the same time, it feels cozy, like home. You’ve got spaces you can be different things in, like a reading nook, a lounging area, or your bedroom. If you’re not there yet, keep trying.

living room couple comfort

That’s the gift of good layout. Just because you’re not wild about things now doesn’t mean you can’t get there. Great use of space just takes time to define, for some of us. It’s best to just stand back and accept that nothing needs to stay where it is now, then change the order, play around. Turn a seldom-used wooden chair into a plant stand, create zones throughout the space, and keep an open mind throughout the whole process.

Over time, you’ll learn some things are working, some aren’t. Revisit it every now and then. We grow into our spaces (and out of them) just like with everything else in our lives.

Some final words of advice? Stay on top of clutter, group similar things together, and know that chairs can always move around when you’re entertaining, but there’s no need to live in a giant Kumbaya circle every day of your life.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.