I get a lot of questions about how to lay out a room with furniture for optimal movement. The good thing is there is no "right way" and usually there is more than one "way." The two things I always keep in mind are:
- Always make a focal point, a fireplace, windows, etc.
- You can always fit more furniture in a room than you think...this is why spaces you see in magazines look so great...they are usually stuffed (in a good way) with furniture. Don't be afraid to put accent chairs on either side of your focal point.
House and Home did a great feature where they showed one room set up 3 different ways. As you can see...all three layouts work. I vote for the Family focus layout!
Source: House & Home May 2010 issue
Designer: Joel Bray
Photographer: Michael Graydon
Setup #1: Private Party
This symmetrical arrangement is ideal for intimate get-togethers. Group furniture around the fireplace to create a cosy conversation zone. The room has a layered, traditional look, with accessories providing decoration over function.
Why It Works:
- A console table is tucked behind the sofa to provide a surface to display a collection of glass vases.
- Luxe silk drapes and bamboo blinds are a classic combination. The blue silk is repeated in the throw pillows, which are layered with elegant toile ones.
- The styling on the bookshelves is minimal and orderly, with an emphasis on books and selected objets with personality.
- Placing items in pairs — from the Louis chairs to the throw pillows and ginger jars on the mantel — creates a sense of visual balance and comfort.
Setup #2: Family Focus
A casual arrangement is perfect for family time. With the sofa now facing the TV (and in a more discreet spot than over the fireplace), the room feels instantly more casual and appropriate for a family's multitasking needs: a couple of people can curl up on the sofa and watch a movie, while someone else works at the desk or reads in the Louis chair. An Eames moulded plastic chair — a mid-century modern classic — gives the room some edge and provides extra seating.
Why It Works:
- The table, used as a sofa console in the formal room, now functions as a desk.
- Casual patterned linen curtains blend in with the walls, adding to the room's airy feeling.
- Large baskets provide easy storage of children's toys, books and DVDs in the open shelving.
- A family-friendly flatweave cotton rug was chosen for its playful stripes, and because it's less pricey than a more formal wool or silk rug.
- The silk throw pillow covers were swapped out for less serious cotton block-print ones.
Setup #3: Social Scene
A spacious arrangement for lively entertaining. Moving the sofa to face the window frees up floor space for mingling and allows easy access to a bar. With a more open plan, the emphasis is now on artisanal pieces, like the glassware on the mantel and the suzani on the sofa. A compact stereo on the bookshelf also makes the room party-ready. No curtains makes it easy for guests to gather around the table, and makes the room seem cleaner and more contemporary.
Why It Works:
- A drop-leaf table under the window provides a surface for drinks and plates. With the back leaf extended, the table makes a perfect spot to gather for cards or board games, or for a casual meal.
- Two small mismatched cocktail tables keep the look eclectic and can double as impromptu extra seating.
- A casual sisal rug adds an element of texture and allows the bright colours of the room's accessories, such as the yellow lamp and the suzani on the sofa, to pop.
- The console table/desk, truly one of the room's most versatile pieces, now serves as a bar.