Placing Furniture

Hello, and welcome to this week’s meeting of Decorator’s Anonymous.  My name is Ken (“Hi, Ken”) and I have a confession to make.  I hate moving furniture.

Whew, glad to get that off my chest.  That said, the proper placement of furniture in your home may be the single cheapest, easiest and best way to give your home the oomph it needs to make you feel good.  The trick is to place your furnishings to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional.  In this column we’ll start with some basic questions to ask yourself and give a few principles.  Next time we’ll tackle some individual rooms.

The first question to ask is what is the room used for?  I don’t just mean sleep in the sleeping room, eat in the eating room and live in the living room, but would you read in the bedroom if there was a comfortable sitting area?  Do you need to use your dining table as an impromptu office?  Do expect to throw parties in the living room?

Now think a little about what kind of environment you like.  Warm and cozy?  Trendy and modern?  How many people are going to be in the space at a given time? Will there be small children so you need to worry about the placements of lamps and end tables? Start minimal.  What pieces have to remain in the room and what can be used elsewhere or given away?

Sometimes it is easier to figure out what you don’t like, than what you do.  So what don’t you like about the room?  Is it too tight to move around in?  Is it hard to find a good place to sit and talk?  Need a good chair and good light to read by? Is it hard to see the TV or do the windows put too much glare on the screen?

Now find a focal point in the room.  If you look at a painting, there is usually a focal point to draw your eye.  The same is true for a room.  There may be a natural focal point like a fireplace or a large window, but you can create one by adding a splash of color or texture that helps to draw you into the room.

Now that you’ve got the focal point, your furniture will placed in relation to it, either straight on or at an angle.  If the room accommodates it, placing furniture at an angle will soften a strict traditional look.  A common technique is to place furniture in a U around the focal point.  You’ve seen this where the sofa faces the fireplace and there is a chair on either side facing into the middle.  In general, “float” your furniture by moving it a little away from the walls.

Not all rooms are square and you may want to take this into account.  In a long, narrow room place a focal piece of furniture (like a console table with a display or a wall unit) on the long wall to balance out the space.  Generally, don’t put the sofa on the long wall because it will narrow the space even more than it already is.  If the room is very large, consider subdividing it into two spaces by setting up separate groupings of furniture.

If the ceilings seem low, you can add the illusion of height by long draperies, tall plants or tall furniture. If the room has very tall ceilings, draw an imaginary line and don’t decorate above it.  Place your furniture to create horizontal rather than vertical lines.

Thanks for attending this week’s meeting.  See you next time.

Click here to read part two.