Reader SOS – Living Room Furniture Layout

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

Reader SOS from the DIY Playbook

My friend, Erica, is the contributor to our Reader SOS series and she comes up with the dreamiest plans for these design dilemmas. You can check out her blog here (and she even offers virtual design services if you want to hire her for your own space!).

I receive so many submissions for this series, but many have an underlying theme, which is – how do I layout my space? I’ve actually tackled this in a few other Reader SOS posts. In this one, I help a reader figure out what furniture to get rid of to make her space better. And in this one, I help a reader figure out the furniture layout for her open-concept living space. Both are chock full of good info if you want to give them a read.

Today, Erica helps a couple who is furnishing a living room from scratch. This space is empty and they’re overwhelmed with the possibilities for the living room furniture layout. Let’s dive into today’s submission from Cece.

The Design Dilemma – Furniture Layout

Figuring out the layout for a living room

Cece and her husband, Kevin, recently moved from the city to the suburbs. They were faced with a large home to fill with furniture and they had no idea where to start when it came to their living room. This space is big and very long, so Cece was unsure where to place the TV, the couch, etc.Living room furniture layout

Before we tackle Cece’s space, specifically, let’s discuss my best tips when it comes to furniture layout in a living room. When decorating a space from the ground up, it’s so important to establish a layout before investing in foundational pieces of furniture, like a couch, chairs, or even end tables. Each piece affects the next, so once you make a purchase you’ve already started the domino effect, and whether you realize it or not, you’ve chosen a particular path. So before pulling the trigger on that little side table that you love, make sure you have considered how it will function in your space with all of the other elements.Figuring out the furniture layout in a space

There are two things to consider when establishing the framework of a room:

1.) Function
2.) Focal Point

Figure Out the Function

For most communal living spaces, the function of the room should be a place to be together, to converse, to hang out and enjoy the company of others. When we consider this, we want to focus on seating and creating a space to chat face-to-face.

What we want to avoid is seating with a singular focus, e.g., a couch facing a TV and no other seating in the room. This does not create an atmosphere conducive to conversation. Instead, we want to close the “circle”, which means creating a space that allows for easy interaction with one another. To do this, we want to create balance. Here are some good examples of great conversation areas…

Photo via Amber Interiors // Photo via Studio McGee

Casey’s living room is another example of a nice conversational area. Yes, the couch faces the TV, but there are also three chairs facing the couch to create that circle effect. Take a look for yourself.My living room rug

Ensuring that there is additional seating outside of the couch is the key for conversation and comfort. Creating a “circle” or box with your furniture helps to create this balance. Don’t be afraid to pull things in close together.  Just because a space is large does not mean furniture should be spread out. And just because a space is small does not mean furniture should be pushed up against the wall. In fact, even in a small space, pulling furniture off the walls actually helps to make the space feel larger. Post renovation video home tour

Another tip? Use a large area rug to anchor all of the seating. This will create a zone and keep everything cohesive. And make sure at least the front legs of each piece are on the rug.

What’s your Focal Point?

Photo via CB2 // Photo via Amber Interiors

Once you have your function figured out, you want to make sure that conversational space is designed around your focal point. The focal point for most living areas is a fireplace or tv. It could be both. The furniture should build around this focal point, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to leave this space in front of the focal point unused from a seating perspective. You want to round out your seating and create a space for face-to-face conversation. Opt for low profile furniture to fill this space in front of the focal point. You might opt for a bench or set of ottomans that won’t obstruct the view.How to figure out your furniture layout in a living room space

Photo via Studio McGee

Your focal point may also be a window and the stunning view outside. Again, keep the space conversation-friendly by including low profile seating that closes the “circle”, but leaves space for the focal point to be seen.

To Sofa or to Sectional?Enjoying our neutral couch in the living room


This is a tough question, and there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your goal for the space. If your goal is family snuggles and movie nights, then a sectional is probably your best bet. If you are wanting game nights and cocktails with friends, I’d probably go with a sofa. Whichever you decide, there are a variety of ways to pair each with additional seating and tables to create the ideal layout.

Sectional Seating Layouts

Photo via Pure Salt Interiors // Photo via Jaci Daily

For sectional seating, you can go with two chairs opposite the longest side of the L-shape. Or you can go with one chair on the shorter side of the sectional, with the option to incorporate some ottomans on the other side.  Either way works and will create lots of seating in a living room.

Sofa Seating Layouts

Photo via Shop Anecdote // Photo via Studio McGee

For sofa seating, a single chair on either side or two chairs together opposite the sofa are great ways to achieve balance and a conversational atmosphere.

Cece’s Furniture Layout


Okay, back to the Reader SOS at hand – Cece’s blank living room space. Here’s a look at her floor plan.

Figuring out a living room layout

The room is long with a fireplace and some beautiful custom built-ins on the opposite side of the room. These areas are split by the entrance from the kitchen (top) and French doors to the exterior (bottom). Cece wants the fireplace to be her focal point, so the plan is to have all of the seating be on that side of the room.

Based on the space’s dimensions, I would go with a chaise style sectional or “bump-out” sectional that has unequal length sides on the sections. The main reason is that the wall perpendicular to the fireplace is much shorter than the back wall.  We don’t want the sectional to encroach upon the focal point or come too close to the edge of the fireplace and make the room feel small.Figuring out the best living room layout

  1. Sectional // 2. Coffee Table // 3. Accent Chair // 4. Ottoman Seating // 5. Area Rug // 6. Side Table // 7. Faux Tree // 8. Large Scale Art Work // 9. Kids Play Table

I would recommend pulling the sectional off of the wall a bit and building everything else around it. I would then create balance in the room with opposing anchor points  – a large faux olive tree in a taupe planter in the corner opposite the sectional and a large scale piece of artwork on the wall opposite the fireplace.

On the other side of the room, near the built-ins, I would try fitting a small round kid’s table for playtime with toys, books, and games tucked on the lower shelves in easy-to-access bins. We wouldn’t want to place larger furniture over there because it would get in the way of the French doors and kitchen entrance.

Here are a few recommendations on how CeCe might consider pairing elements in this space to create a beautiful layout.

1.) A bump-out sectional with open leg ottoman table, round ottoman seating, and a rounded back accent chair.

Figuring out the best living room furniture layout

Design @chitownhouse // Sectional // Rug // Ottoman Table //  Ottoman Seating // Side Table // Sherpa Accent Chair // Gray Stripe Pillow // Gray Lumbar Pillow // Black & White Stripe Lumbar Pillow // Blue Fringe Pillow  // Artwork // Floor Lamp // Leather Magazine Holder // Glass Vase

2.) A chaise sectional with oblong coffee table, square ottoman seating, and rounded back accent chair. Figuring out the perfect living room layout

Design @chitownhouse // Chaise Sectional // Rug // Coffee Table // Woven Ottomans // Gray Stripe Pillow // Gray Lumbar Pillow // Sherpa Accent Chair // Side Table // Artwork // Wall Sconces // Glass Vase

3.) A chaise sectional with round coffee table, round ottoman seating and leather detail accent chair. Figuring out the best living room furniture layout

Design @chitownhouse // Chaise Sectional // Area Rug // Coffee Table // Ottoman Seating // Gray Stripe Pillow // Gray Lumbar Pillow // Leather Accent Chair // End Table // Table Lamp //  Storage Basket

These are all great options for Cece to consider when buying seating for her space. At the end of the day, a family room is all about creating a cozy spot for the people who use it! So make sure you incorporate lots of seating, anchor it with a rug, and enjoy time in this special space in your home.

Reader SOS 2021

Casey: This is the last Reader SOS of the year and I’ll be picking up the series in 2021. I have a huge backlog of submissions, so I’m not accepting any new submissions right now. But I can’t wait to tackle some of the ones that have graced my inbox over the last few months. And be sure to check out the Reader SOS archives…chances are your design dilemma has already been solved before!

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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