Selecting furniture makes your house uniquely yours. The colors and styles express your personality, and it is usually easy for you to recognize “your” furniture. You will say or think, “That’s IT!’ If you love it and it is within your budget and will hold up under your family’s use, you should buy it. Whether you are buying a few new pieces or a room full of new furniture, think about your family, not “design.” But now that you own it – or just moved it – where should you put it? Moving furniture around until it “looks right” can take days and create family friction. Here are a few suggestions to make furniture placement easier on your family.
In the living room, focus on your family’s comfort and on the comfort of your guests:
• Find the focal point and make sure that is the first thing you see when you enter the room. The focal point may be the view outside a window, a fireplace, a large picture or mirror, a large bookshelf, or an attractive entertainment center. Do not hide your focal point with furniture that obstructs the view.
• If the outside door opens into your living room, keep the area clear so people have room to take off their coats without bumping into furniture. If there is no closet nearby, a hall tree works well if there is enough space. A small table for keys and purses is a thoughtful addition.
• Visually direct people around the conversation area and not into it. The sofa or an area rug can mark the seating area.
• Arrange furniture so there is a comfortable walk-through space between pieces of furniture; interior decorators recommend 30 inches.
• Do not place the sofa against the wall as it can be parallel to the wall, but give it at least three inches of breathing space.
• Place your coffee table 14 to 18 inches from the sofa. Side tables can be closer to chairs and sofa
• Your furniture does not have to be all the way on or all the way off your area rug. You can have the front legs on the rug and the back legs off the rug and still have a room attractive enough for a magazine cover.
• Have fun with bookshelves – librarians may frown, but designers say a mix of books and decorative items make a unique point of interest in a living room.
• Do not expect a ceiling light to meet all of your lighting needs. Think about all of the activities your family will do in this room. A mixture of floor and table lamps can provide cozy lighting for conversations, bright lights to read and do crafts by and indirect light that is not reflected by the TV screen. Designers urge their clients to light the coffee table, not guests seated on the sofa.
• If your lamp bases do not match, you are an interior designer’s dream. These add visual points of interest. Designers suggest your lampshades match closely in color and shape to help pull the room together.
Does your arrangement work? Do a test visit. Enter your home wearing a coat and carrying a handbag and a bouquet of flowers or an empty casserole dish. Is there a place to put your things down while you take off your coat? Can you get to the kitchen or powder room without walking through the conversation area? With an empty cup in hand, sit on each end of the sofa and then in the middle. Then, sit in each chair. Can you put the cup down without getting up or stretching uncomfortably? If not, rearrange side tables so they are more functional. If you are short on space, nesting tables can be moved around or collapsed into one table when they are not needed. Flea markets and garage sales are great places to find unique nesting tables. Large retail stores often sell nesting tables you can easily assemble.
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