Interior Design Advice: Find the Right Layout for Your Living Room

Do you need a bit of living room layout inspiration? Are you feeling unsure of how to make the most of your living space?

Whether you have an open floor plan, a large or small living room, read on for helpful tips on arranging your furniture and styling your ideal living space...

What should every living room have?

Whatever your interior design tastes or preferences, at Wilson & Dorset there are two things we believe every living room should have - character and comfort. Rather than focus on any one look or piece of furniture, it's more important that your living room reflects who you are and the way your family likes to live.

Living Room Advice

Interior designers would say the most important thing in your living room is a focal point. It might be a built in fireplace or French doors. Or you might create one with bookshelves, your TV console or a piece of art. This focal plays an important role in balancing the layout of your living room.

What is the best way to layout a living room?

Gone are the days of separate sitting, dining and drawing rooms. Now we often combine several activities into a single living space. With so many factors at play it takes effort to nut out the best floor plan, both from a practical and an aesthetic point of view.

  1. Start by thinking about how you and your family use your living space - what activities happen there? Where does the foot traffic flow? Where does the sunlight fall?
  2. From there turn your mind to how you want it to look and feel - what style of decor, colours, textures and so on.
  3. Use pen and paper and sketch your living room design or make use of an online designing tool.


How do you place furniture in a rectangular living room?

Rectangular living rooms can be challenging, especially when you throw TVs, doorways and fireplaces into the mix. The optimal furniture arrangement depends on how you use the space - that's the first thing to get clear in your mind.

Living Room Advice

Is yours a formal entertaining space? If so, a more traditional arrangement might suit. Start with a large rectangular rug to anchor your seating. Place two matching couches facing each other (sitting fully on the rug) with a large coffee table in between. An elegant and symmetrical set up that encourages conversation.

If on the other hand, your living room is more informal and family focused, you might like to swap the traditional seating for an oversized, pillowy sectional sofa. Again anchored by a large rectangular rug, face your sofa towards the TV. Place side tables at each end of your sectional sofa so that they are in easy reach. Family movie nights will be more popular than ever.

How do you place furniture in a room with a lot of windows?

Living rooms with large windows enjoy lots of natural light. They also invite you to arrange your seating area so that you can make the most of your views.

Living Room Advice

Consider placing your sofa facing toward the windows. Define the space with an area rug. Add in a coffee table and side tables and you'll have created somewhere to sit and relax with a cup of tea, or chat with a friend, while enjoying the sunshine and the views.

Should your living room furniture match?

The formal traditional lounge suite (sofa plus armchairs) were often done in matching upholstery back in the day. I remember the browns, oranges and greens of the Sanderson floral lounge suites in many of my friends parent' living rooms.

Trends today are more relaxed. Living room furniture doesn't need to match exactly, although you will want your pieces to complement the other. This helps your living room feel balanced and less crowded.

How do I mix and match my living room?

Mixing and matching furniture can be challenging, especially if you are using more that one decorating style. It's a balancing act to get the right mix. Consider these living room layout ideas:

  • Choose something to anchor the room. A piece of art, coffee table or a large area rug.
  • Group furniture for balance. Try not to have all the large seating at one end and small pieces of furniture at the other.
  • Mix shapes - pair rectangular couches with a round coffee table for example, or an L shaped sectional sofa with a round rug.


Does a living room need a couch?

Couches are a very common feature of living rooms. They are a practical solution, helping to define the function of the space and drawing your eye towards whatever it is facing (fireplace/TV/windows).

Living Room Advice

That said, a couch isn't mandatory and there are other alternatives. Purpose built wooden seating looks fabulous in a sunken lounge for example (the ultimate conversation pit!), while in a more traditional living room you can instead use armchairs, bean bags and floor cushions.

How can I decorate my living room without a couch?

Consider using a mix of chairs for your seating area. Large armchairs can be very stylish and comfortable too cosy up in. Bean bags, daybeds and hanging chairs are other more creative options.

At Wilson & Dorset, we believe living rooms that promote comfort, connection and freedom. Picture a soft curly sheepskin rug, on which you can kick off your shoes and lie on the floor (my kids favourite TV watching spot). Add in a couple of large floor cushions (like our stone set) and shaggy bean bags.

These are all pieces which you can move around and prop yourself up wherever feels most natural and comfortable. Flexible family lounging at its best.

Can you put a couch in the middle of the room?

Absolutely! There is no hard and fast rule that says your couch belongs against a wall. In fact, placing your seating even just slightly off the wall helps create a sense of spaciousness.

The bulk of a couch can be useful for demarcating a separate zone in an open plan living space. Say you have a combined living room and dining area. By placing your sofa in the middle of the room with its back to the dining space, you create two distinct 'activity zones' which will feel separate from each other.

How do you arrange furniture in a living room with a TV?

It's an age old debate - should the TV be the focal point of your living room?! The answer depends a bit on the age and stage of your family and how much space you have available.

It also depends on the layout of your room - if you have a built in bookshelves for example, or a fireplace, your options might be limited.

But ultimately, it comes down to personal choice and what works best for your family.

Does the couch have to face the TV?

If the main or primary use of your living room is to watch TV, it is probably easiest to place your couch facing toward it, but it's certainly not essential.

If you have a fireplace for example, you can sit your TV on a console off to one side of the fireplace. The TV is still easily visible from your couch or sofa, but it isn't the focal point of the room.

How do you accessorise a living room?

Accessories are fun and inject personality, character and warmth into your living room. For ideas, think cushions, throws, family photographs, table lamps, candles and ceramics.

  • A large coffee table is a great landing pad for accessories. Picture a beautiful vase filled with fresh flowers and a stack of beautiful books.
  • A sheepskin throw over the back of an armchair, or your couch, adds texture and warmth to your seating area.
  • And of course cushions - large or small, square or round, linen or sheepskin, brightly patterned or neutral, cushions always add style to your sofa and seating.

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