While many factors such as color and lighting contribute to a room's atmosphere, the way the furniture is arranged can also influence the mood. Whether you're trying to make a room more comfortable or simply seeking to make an area more functional, it helps to know how to arrange your furniture so it works best for you. here are some guidelines to help you create enjoyable spaces that make guests and family members feel relaxed.
Planning Your Space
Good furniture arrangement begins with analyzing your space and the contents of your room. When planning the arrangement of a room, think about how many people use the room, how traffic flows, and how the room is used.
The first step in planning your space is to determine the focal point of the room. Find the dramatic element that draws your immediate attention. If your room has an attractive feature, such as a fireplace or picture window, center your furniture arrangement around it. If your room doesn't have one, create a focal point with furnishings. Dramatic window treatments, an interesting display of artwork, or a beautifully decorated bed can help define the space.
Graphing a Floor Plan
After determining the focal point, draw a floor plan of your room using graph paper. Use one graph square for every foot of actual space. Be sure to include windows, staircases, doors, fireplaces, and the focal point of your room.
Measure major furniture pieces and make a template of each piece. After you have cut out the templates, color each in the hue of the piece it represents; then you can get a good idea how color is mixed throughout the room. Move the templates around to find the best arrangement before moving the first piece of furniture. (Your back will be glad you did!)
Using Placement Guidelines
To ensure that movement in the room is unrestricted and all pieces of furniture are organized, keep in mind the following:
Rethink traffic routes. Your traffic paths need a minimum of 24". Try to keep major traffic paths from interrupting the central furniture grouping in the room.
The sofa in the living room, the bed in the bedroom, and the desk in the office demand the majority of space available. Arrange these pieces of furniture first.
Allow 14" to 18" between a coffee table and the front of the sofa.
When creating areas for conversation, keep furniture pieces within eight feet of each other to allow people to talk comfortably when seated. Remember to keep these pieces facing each other when possible, instead of side by side. You'll probably want to include tables beside the seating so people will have a place for food and drinks.
Allow sufficient space in front of chests to allow doors and drawers to be opened easily.
Do you watch television in the room? If so, the distance between the television and the seating should be three times the size of the screen. In other words, to comfortably watch TV on a 30" screen, you should sit 90" away from it.
In seating used for reading, remember to make room for appropriate light whether it's a floor lamp or an end table with a lamp.
The dining area requires plenty of space to move freely. Allow two feet between the back of the chair and any other piece of furniture or wall. Remember to measure this distance assuming someone is seated in the chair.
In bedrooms, the minimum clearance between the edge of the bed and the wall should be 24". In addition, allow at least 36" between the edge of the bed and any door that opens into the room. If you place two beds side by side in a room, allow at least 18" between them
Achieving Balance and Visual Interest
Balanced rooms are more pleasing to the eye and make more effective use of the available space. To keep your rooms from looking one-sided or dull, remember:
Make sure all the tall or heavy pieces don't end up in the same area of the room. Mix bigger and smaller pieces throughout the room, but keep in mind the scale of the items you put beside each other. You wouldn't want to place a dainty round table by your oversized, comfy armchair. A large chair will require a larger end table. So how do you achieve a mix of bigger and smaller items? Remember that a grouping of smaller items can balance out a weightier item. Two small armchairs and a table balance a larger sofa.
Balance doesn't simply apply to the size and scale of the furniture. Be sure to mix color and pattern throughout the room as well.
Avoid leaving pieces of furniture sitting alone in the room. Connect pieces by placing tables or lamps nearby. For example, if the sofa is positioned in the middle of the room facing the fireplace, anchor it by placing a table behind it.
Use different heights of furniture and accessories. As someone looks around your room, you want their eyes to move up and down.
For added interest, attempt to pull furniture away from the walls. If you have a sofa placed against a wall, consider placing a table behind it and pull it into the room.
Angle furniture when possible to take the rough edges off of a room. A desk or dresser usually looks better angled across a corner than straight against a wall. Angles make the room warmer and present a casual, lived-in style.
If your room has a curved mantel or a large bay window, a round or semicircular furniture arrangement may complement it.
If your room lacks architectural detail, you may want to add moulding or a French door to create visual interest.
Remember rooms are more inviting if they are not overfilled with furniture. If you have a piece that throws off the room's balance or is seldom used, consider moving it to another room, storing it, or giving it away.
Creating a Multipurpose Space
Many of us need to use an area in our homes for more than one purpose. For example, the living room often acts as an everyday gathering spot for family, a place to entertain guests, a space to watch television, an area for the kids to play and even a room for guests to sleep in a crunch. Here are some ideas to help you define separate areas within a room:
Use furniture, such as tables or upholstered pieces, to outline separate, functional areas of a room. A sofa can separate a reading space from a television viewing space.
Open bookcases divide areas, and they also lend an illusion of spaciousness.
In the bedroom, instead of anchoring a bed against the wall, try using the headboard as a divider for sleeping and dressing areas.
Use area rugs to help define areas within a room. You can mix rugs of different patterns within the same room as long as the color coordinates. Using two rugs of the same size may tend to divide the room in equal halves. Unless the areas you want to create have equal proportions, select rugs of differing sizes to create more interest and contrast.