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Arranging Furniture and Hanging Pictures

Whether you're trying to make a room more comfortable, getting ready to refurnish a room, or simply seeking to make an area more functional, it helps to know how to arrange your furniture so it works best for you.

Plan Your Space

Before you unpack any boxes at your new home, plan your furniture's placement. Think about how many people use the room, how traffic flows, and how the room is used. Determine the focal point of the room. Find the dramatic element that draws your immediate attention, and center your arrangement around it. If your room doesn't have a natural focal point, create one: artwork, window treatments and decoration can define a space.

Graph a Floor Plan

One of the best tips is to use templates on graph paper to "arrange" the furniture without actually having to move it around the room.

Draw a floor plan of your room using graph paper. Measure your furniture, and make a template of each piece. Then find the best arrangement without lifting heavy pieces. Your back will thank you for it.

Use Placement Guidelines

Make sure your arrangement doesn't restrict movement. A room's traffic path should be at least 24 inches wide.

Arrange large pieces of furniture first.

Make the room easy to maneuver. Here are some tips:

  • Give yourself 14” to 18” between a coffee table and the sofa.
  • Allow sufficient space in front of chests for doors and drawers to be opened easily.
  • In the dining area, allow two feet between chairs and other pieces of furniture or walls.
  • In bedrooms, give 3' between the edge of the bed and any door that opens into the room. If placing two beds in a room, allow at least 18” between them.

When designing areas for conversation, keep furniture pieces within eight feet of each other to allow comfortable talking space. Keep these pieces facing each other or at right angles. And don't forget lighting for reading in the same areas.

If you're arranging for the TV room, place seating at a distance three times the size of the screen. For example, a 30" screen should be 90" away from a sofa.

Achieve Balance and Visual Interest

Balanced rooms are more pleasing to the eye and make more effective use of the available space.

Make sure all the tall or heavy pieces don't end up in the same area of the room. Remember that a grouping of smaller items can balance out a weightier item. Two small armchairs and a table balance a larger sofa. And make sure colors and patterns are mixed throughout the room as well.

Avoid leaving pieces of furniture sitting alone in the room. Connect pieces by placing tables or lamps nearby. Use different heights of furniture and accessories. As someone looks around your room, you want their eyes to move up and down. Angle your furniture when possible. Angles make the room warmer and present a casual, lived-in style.

If your room lacks architectural detail, you may want to add moulding to create visual interest.

Remember that rooms are more inviting if they are not overfilled with furniture. If you have a piece that throws off the room's balance, move it to another room.

Create a Multipurpose Space

Many of us need to use an area in our homes for more than one purpose. Use furniture, such as tables or upholstered pieces, to outline separate, functional areas of a room. Open bookcases can section areas, and make a room appear spacious. In the bedroom, divide sleeping and dressing areas with your bed's headboard.

You can also use area rugs to help define areas within a room. Select rugs of differing sizes to create more interest and contrast.

Hang Pictures

There are few things that can make a new house feel lived in like hanging your own personal artwork. Before you begin, choose the right hanger for the weight of your frame.

Pick the wall that will hold the frame. Balance the size of the art with any furniture that sits against the wall. Then, find where on the wall you want to hang your picture: make sure furniture isn't spaced unevenly around your picture.

If you plan on hanging a group of pictures, lay them on the floor and experiment arrangements. Measure the dimensions of the group as one unit, and use those measurements for wall placement.

After you fully moved, with furniture in place and a completed inventory sign-off, you might want to start planning home improvements that help you settle in.

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