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5 Tips for Laying Out Furniture

Sometimes it's easy to overlook the layout and orientation of furniture, whether it's down to lack of space within the room, being used to a certain layout, or simply not knowing how to make the most of your furniture.

With 15 years of experience in interior design for show home properties and homeowners alike and having worked on everything from 1-bed apartments to 4-bed houses, we know what it takes to maximise space and light and create well-balanced interiors that appeal to the homeowner or increase market value for developers/sales teams overseeing developments where maximising buyer desire is critical.

Here are our tips for laying out furniture to make the most of a space, no matter the size or style of the room.

5 Tips for Laying Out Furniture

1. Decide on a focal point

A top-down view of a mid-century modern living room showing the best way to arrange furniture using the TV as your main focal point.

Everyone's home is different, and each room has a different function. In a smaller property with just a living room and kitchen/diner, everything would happen in this one room, so there is less flexibility with how furniture is focussed. In a larger property, there may be a room for studying/working from home, a room for watching TV and a room for dining/entertaining.

Deciding on the focus of the room is crucial to how furniture is laid out. If you're the type of person to watch a lot of TV, your sofas will be positioned with the best view of the TV itself, whereas if you are out of the house a lot and spend more time reading for leisure, you may focus the seating towards the light and have less seating in general.

For a room that's all about entertainment, your seating will be focused on each other so people can socialise and there may be more tables, closer together for surfaces to put food and drink.

An open plan dining and living area with two blue chairs, a coffee table and dining table. The chairs face into the room with a window behind to create a reading area.

2. Walk this way

Once you have decided on the function of the room and what the focal point will be, the next important step is to make sure walkways aren't blocked or restricted. Doing this will create blockages, and make the room seem smaller than it is. Sometimes this is difficult in a small room, but keeping walkways as open as possible is important. If you have a small room and plan on buying new furniture - try sofas/chairs with low arms and narrow tables/storage that don't intrude into any walkways too much.

This is especially important for a show home property or one where the goal of the interior is to increase market value, as prospective buyers might be put off if they cannot see themselves comfortably living somewhere and struggling to walk around, knocking hips on sideboards and squeezing past the footboard on a bed will negatively impact their view on the size of the room.

A living room with two sofas, a coffee table and tv unit. The walls are teal blue with pink cushions.

3. Let there be light

Another key consideration is where light is coming from. Using high, bulky furniture and placing it in the way of windows and doors can dramatically reduce the feeling of space within a room.

Try to keep these large areas of light clear or consider using lower items of furniture to let as much light in as possible. As is the case with keeping walkways clear, letting prospective buyers see through a room and have a clear mental image of the flow of the room makes an interior feel open and inviting.

Another option is to use furniture that is lighter in shade/material. In a small room or one that doesn't have much natural light, putting dark wooden units and upholstery with dark fabrics will make the area feel even more cramped.

4. Consider the feature walls

If you have a feature wall - one that is painted or wallpapered differently from the others, or has a distinct feature like an alcove, fireplace or other traditional architectural characteristic such as a beam, try to position the furniture towards these features to create a homely feel. Function is everything at the end of the day - positioning seating away from the fireplace creates an unwelcoming vibe that almost makes the house seem not lived-in.

In the bedroom, beds work best with the headboard against the feature wall, facing the door so when you walk in, the striking colours and textures of the feature wall are most obvious.

A blue feature wall with a black mirror, sideboard and yellow lamps

Placing storage and occasional furniture against feature walls with lamps, mirrors nearby also add light to the area and give an extra dimension to what might otherwise be a plain wall.

5. Use furniture to create divisions and maximise space

In an open plan room like what you'd find in a small apartment or modern living space in a family home, consider using furniture to divide up the room into distinct functional zones and create the illusion of separate rooms without walls or another hard block to the light and flow of the room.

Open-backed shelving/storage furniture and long items like sofas/sideboard work well for this.

In the below examples of small 1-bed apartments with open-plan living and dining areas, the seating is placed parallel to the dining area and kitchen to create a soft division that still allows light to flow through without having one continuous space.

An open-plan apartment with wooden flooring, grey sofas and a white Scandinavian-style dining table

An open-plan lounge with a kitchen in the background. There are teal chairs and a teal armchair.

At Inspired Show Homes, we create stunning interiors for homeowners and show homes for property developers and housing associations. We work nationwide and offer on-site storage, delivery and installation of your complete interior including painting and decorating. All our quotes are bespoke and tailored to your budget, likes/dislikes and goals.

Contact us today to get your project underway and get Inspired!


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