Whether you're lounging on the couch, watching TV with family or entertaining friends, your living room tends to be the center of your home. Learn how to decorate a living room the right way by following these rules for arranging your furniture.

By Madison Dahlstrom
October 04, 2016
A living room arrangement using the fireplace and TV as the focal point.

Living rooms serve many functions. Some homes have formal living rooms, while others use the space for a family room, playroom, or TV room. Whatever you use this room for, creating a comfortable and inviting space is key to making the most out of your living room. Learn how to organize and position your living room furniture in the most effective and appealing way, by following these rules for arranging and decorating a living room.

1. Focus on the focal point

Do you have a large piece of artwork, entertainment system or fireplace in your living room? Finding a room's natural focal point is a great place to start when arranging your living room. Most home's will have one major point of interest that is the first thing you notice when entering the room. While not all furniture has to face the focal point, consider centering the room around this main feature.

Image Credit: Foley & Cox Interiors

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This living room design features an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table.

2. Create a center

Whether it's a coffee table, ottoman or group of chairs, it's important that your living room has a noticeable center. Most of the time, the center of a living room is where the coffee table lives. If you have a larger room you can incorporate multiple center points, such as a coffee table at one end of the room and an additional seating area at the other end.

This living room provides plenty of room to walk, couches and chairs to sit, and tables for holding drinks.

3. Make it functional

The layout of your living room should always be functional. A functional furniture arrangement can be achieved by considering how many people will be using the room and what will it be used for. You can then decide the style, size and amount of furnishings you will need.

Tables, chairs, and artwork in different shapes and sizes create a well-balanced atmosphere in this living room design.

4. Select scaled pieces

Another rule of thumb for decorating a living room is to create balance by choosing scaled pieces. If you want a well-balanced atmosphere, pick pieces differing in size and height that balance each other out. Place the larger pieces in the room first, then arrange the smaller items around the main furniture.

Image Credit: Miller Design Company

A gallery wall mixes and matches different art pieces to create visual appeal and texture in this living room.

5. Add dimension

Texture and dimension will top off your living room by adding visual appeal and interest. While decorations are usually left last when arranging your living room, it can also be the biggest struggle. Create height and depth to your living room by adding artwork, photos, shelves or mirrors to the walls. When hanging any art or items on the wall, consider the height from the wall edge and the ceiling. You'll want to make sure your decor is at eye level and centered.

Image Credit: Miller Design Company

Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a naturally well-lit living room in this arrangement.

6. Incorporate lighting

In order to create a bright and open living room, it's important to layer light sources. Even if you have one main overhead light, try incorporating different styles of light fixtures, such as lamps on side tables, accent lighting within bookshelves, or even candles. One of the easiest ways to add light to your living room is arranging the furniture around your windows. Not only will natural light pour in from floor-to-ceiling windows, but this will also allow you to enjoy your view from the seat of your couch.

Image Credit: NB Design Group

A large area rug opens up this living room.

7. Add an area rug

Don't overlook an area rug when decorating your living room. Area rugs add texture and dimension to a space while also serving a function. Typically, you'll want to choose a rug that will complement your color scheme and can be placed in the center of the room. Be sure to choose the right size for your room and furniture. A good rule to follow is that the rug should be large enough so that at least the front legs of your furniture are on it, and the rug should be more than 6-12 inches away from the walls.

Image Credit: Corey Gaffer via Martha O'Hara Interiors

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Bold colors and playful patterns balance out this fun living room.

8. Mix and match

Create a personalized living room by mixing and matching patterns, colors, and textures. Play up your favorite color by coordinating different shades throughout the room. Choose a neutral-toned couch and pair it with a patterned armchair. If you really want to go bold with your living room arrangement, add a pop of color by mixing in an accent chair. Vibrant living rooms full of color and pattern can be done appropriately so that a room is not overwhelming, but still offers style.

Matching chairs, couches and side tables create a symmetrical arrangement in this living room.

9. Create symmetry

Focus on symmetry to create a well-balanced living room that appears both comfortable and organized. Pair sofas, side tables and chairs on opposing sides of the room in order to achieve a symmetrical living space. In the case of a symmetrical living room, your coffee table will serve as the center point of the arrangement. While not all living rooms are meant to be symmetrical, if done right the result is a simple, yet stunning space.

Image Credit: Foley & Cox Interiors

This small living room arrangement is appropriately spaced for traffic flow.

10. Think about traffic

When arranging your living room, it's important to consider the traffic flow. Your furniture arrangement will be a factor in how people enter, exit, and navigate the space. Is it difficult to get in and out of seating? Does the space feel cramped when multiple people are sitting in the room? Work with the size of your space by choosing the right size of furnishings so that this high-traffic area can be used with ease.

Image Credit: Hyde Evans Design

Watch for more tips on designing a comfortable living room.


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