Experts explain how to arrange living room furniture in 14 ways

How you arrange living room furniture will make or break the space you have. Learn the right way to organize your lounge

A small living room with variety of light sources including table lamp, floor lamp and wall sconces
(Image credit: Dunelm)

The way that we arrange living room furniture is key to creating a welcoming and functional space, as too many pieces put together with a haphazard approach can result in a room that's a little off-balance.

The best living room ideas for your home will ultimately depend on what pieces of furniture you are accommodating. You'll want to consider where to put your TV, the all-important couch, coffee table and more too. And, your living room layout idea will of course need to take into account how you and your household use the space.

When you have a large lounge, you can be a little more chill when it comes to choosing where you'll prop your stuff, but if you're wondering how to arrange furniture in a small living room, we've called upon our pro colleagues in the industry to help with deciding where your fixtures fit best. 

Their opinions will 1) allow you to move around the room 2) will be sympathetic to the architectural design of your property, and 3) consider which direction the sun comes in from.

How to arrange furniture in a small living room

There are a few different ways to arrange furniture, and the shape of your room will naturally guide how to make your small living room look larger

At the end of the day, living rooms work hard to feel cozy when required and welcoming when we are entertaining. Our expert advice will inspire you to have a play around in your own living room so that you can create a stylish floor plan that suits you best.

1. Always start at the beginning – with the couch

grey painted living room with bay window, blue sofa and armchair, orange armchair, floor lamp, table lamp, blue rug, modern chandelier, glass coffee table

(Image credit: Pooky)

Your sofa is the main piece of furniture, and its placement is paramount. In front of a large bay window is a lovely position and as if it fits, push it back into the bay so you have more floor space to play with.

If it is the only sofa you have then add in a couple of the best armchairs on each side, with a coffee table in the center. Do choose seating that's similar in style, these pieces shown here all have curved lines which bring more harmony to the space.

We spoke to British designer, Benji Lewis, who concurs with our styling advice. He says: 'An armchair angled towards the window is fabulous for allowing you to enjoy a little Vitamin D during darker days and practical for seeing things more clearly.'

2. Make symmetry your best friend 

living room with blue sofa, patterned rug, leather footstools, shelving each side of tv

(Image credit: House of Jade Interiors/Lindsay Salazar)

The finest living room TV ideas will see you enjoying your best TV, without it impacting the finished look of your lounge. This space is designed to perfection. 

‘One of the challenges of this space was getting adequate seating to view the TV' explains Kirsten Krason, co-owner and principal designer at House of Jade Interiors (opens in new tab).

'The space between the kitchen and living room was tight and we didn’t want to eat too much into the walkway and flow space. We decided to do a long sofa on one side of the TV and two blue swivel chairs on the other. The chairs are super comfortable and the swivel feature makes for great TV viewing!'

'When designing our #ridgerunnerproject, our goal was to turn the home into a modern farmhouse that leans more on the modern side.’

pale grey living room with fireplace, bookcases in alcoves, bay window with blinds, sofa, coffee table, rug

(Image credit: Sharps)

If you have a living room that has an open doorway to another room, then don’t block it with another sofa: keep it open. If you need extra seating, then place either another sofa directly opposite your living room fireplace idea or a couple of good-sized armchairs. 

Keep side tables near the sofa so the doorway keeps clutter-free, and add a simple coffee table that won’t distract, this white-topped, marble coffee table is perfect. 

4. Let your rug guide the layout

Coastal style living room with denim blue sofa, coffee table and two area rugs layered over each other

(Image credit: M&S)

Use unusual pieces of living room furniture to add both interest and function. The best living room rugs can help to draw the eye to the center of the room, and focus less on the parameters of the room. Remember, you can layer your living room rug ideas to add dimension and added interest.

'When you rug shop, think about the size you buy and which items you wish to sit on it; rugs can be a very effective way of suggesting a zoned area within your living room.' says British interior designer, Benji Lewis (opens in new tab).

5. Accent furniture can be both decorative and practical

pink living room with grey sofa and chair, black floor, gold coffee table, bar trolley, pendant light, stripe rug

(Image credit: Habitat)

Aside from the main pieces like sofas and armchairs, there are also the smaller pieces of living room furniture to consider like coffee, side, and console tables – and not forgetting the best drinks trolley for special occasions.

They provide those extra surfaces for lamps, coffee table books, candles, vases, and ornaments. Place them within reach of sofas and armchairs so they can be used for drinks too. Ideal when working with small living room layouts in particular. 

6. Low slung furniture creates a relaxed look

black and cream living room with black marble wall and black low slung armchairs, grey footstool, gold wall lights, black console and mirror

(Image credit: Maestri Studio/Nathan Shroder)

If you prefer a more modern living room idea with a low-slung feel, then the same ‘rules’ apply, but do opt for lower coffee tables too – or a coffee table alternative (like a footstool or coffee table ottoman), so the proportions look right against the chairs. 

‘We wanted the furniture to feel comfortable and casual without taking away from the fireplace as the focal point,’ says Eddie Maestri, AIA principal architect and creative director and owner of Maestri Studio (opens in new tab).

7. Create an L-shaped layout, without an L-shaped sofa

blue and cream living room with white walls, blue sofas, pale wood coffee table

(Image credit: Living with Lolo/Life Created)

‘We had so much fun creating this home for our clients,’ says Lauren Lerner, founder and principal designer at Living with Lolo (opens in new tab).

‘They reached out to us wanting a modern farmhouse vibe and we pushed them outside their comfort zone to add some more modern elements. They love how it turned out!’

We love how Lauren has used two sofas to create an L-shape in this living room, and then placed the two wooden upholstered armchairs on the right side, which allows for conversation as well as TV watching.

8. Keep furniture well spaced out in a large living room

yellow living room with black and white artwork, leather sofa and armchairs, wooden coffee table and patterned rug

(Image credit: Barker & Stonehouse)

The beauty of a large living room is that you can be generous with how you position your furniture. Although a big space is always welcome, it can feel daunting when it comes to styling it up. 

Here, the large leather sofa is pulled away from the wall and a big armchair on the left, with a smaller chair on the right – all perfectly placed to fill the space. A rug grounds the center with the coffee table positioned in the middle.

9. Keep it compact with clever designs

white living room with open plan space, grey sofa, coffee table with stools, blue rug, white floors, black console

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

When space is at premium, opt for living room furniture that’s nifty when it comes to space and storage. 

There are four key elements here: the sofa, decorated console, hanging rail and coffee table that also doubles as seating. Due to their slimline nature they all fit into a relatively small square footage yet the coffee table can be expanded when needed.

10. Create visual balance in twos

white living room with grey floor, modern coffee tables and matching shelving unit, black floor lamp, black mirror, cream sofa

(Image credit: Barker & Stonehouse)

It might be that living room storage is more key for your space than seating, if this is the case then choose pieces that match visually like these two side tables and open shelving idea

Their transparent design makes them ideal for a contemporary scheme and note how they are positioned – the two side tables are placed together and the unit behind the sofa, this creates a unified look that’s simple yet effective.

11. Create an L-shaped lounging corner

living room with yellow sofa, round side tables, textured rug, shelving, open plan feel

(Image credit: Furniture Village)
(opens in new tab)

Although this sofa isn’t technically L-shaped, you can build a makeshift one with a normal two or three-seater and pouf to then create a cozy living room corner. Team this with a rug and a coffee table for a zoned space which will work really well in an open-plan living room.

Decide on the best paint color for the living room and you have yourself a stylish seating area that’s contemporary and smart.

12. Double up if you prefer sofas over armchairs

neutral living room with two sofas and large square coffee table, bay window

(Image credit: Fritz Fryer)

If your living room is big enough and you prefer the comfort of sofas to chairs, then opt for two sofas. These two are similar in size and shape though different sofa fabric choices but are linked together due to the neutral colorway. They also create a square shape that is mimicked in the coffee table.

The addition of an airy living room curtain idea and a few of the best indoor plants help to create a fresh feel in this crisp white lounge.

13. Think outside of the conventional coffee table setup

A dark living room with bookshelves, dark carpet decor and side table

(Image credit: Carpetright)

'Try to always have an occasional table close to hand for each place where someone might sit; whilst a central coffee table looks lovely, if it’s too far from where you’re sitting then it might not be terribly useful aside from putting pretty books on,' says Lewis.

And (especially in this dark living room idea), he continues to say: 'Arrange your  living room lighting ideas so that they're balanced around the room; close to where you envisage people sitting try to have a table or floor lamp too so your guests sit in an ambient glow.'

14. Don't force chairs by the fireplace

A dark, Art-Deco inspired living room with fireplace and yellow accent chair decor

(Image credit: The Contented Nest)

When it comes to ideas for a small living room, it can be tempting to push furniture against a wall, or as close to the fireplace as possible. Tempting as this may be, it can make your fireside look fussy, untidy and will emphasize the smaller scale of the space.

Lewis says: 'Should you have one, but space is tight, don’t get too carried away with feeling every item of seating has to be snuggled up to the fireplace. A neat pair of comfortable but not bulky cocktail-style chairs will be great on either side of the fireplace or alternatively include a club fender which is brilliant at providing a discreet perch.'

Where should I put my sofa in the living room?

Where you place your sofa is key to the whole look and feel of your living room. If you get it right, then your other pieces will be easy to place. After all, it’s usually the largest item you’ll have in there. 

Firstly, you need to establish the focal point of your living room – is it the fireplace? Or the TV? As well as being able to see these items it might be that you want to create a space where conversations flow, so a sofa facing another or two armchairs can work well.

If your fireplace is your focal point then place the sofa in front of it but with a coffee table on a rug in between. Depending on how large your space is and your family, it might be that you need more than one couch, or a few couch alternatives (like a few loveseats) to create a cozy ambience.

How do I organize my living room nicely? 

The key to successfully organizing your living room is to get your proportions right. If your space is small then choose furniture that fits visually – a 3-seater will take up too much space for example. A small sofa teamed with a snuggler or two will look much better. The same goes for side and coffee tables, keep them in check size-wise.

One way around this is to look for pieces that have a double use - a nest of tables, a lift-top coffee table, or a coffee table that has stool storage underneath. And while we're talking all things living room storage, coffee tables with storage are a no-brainer and work well if you use your lounge as a play area for your little one.

For something a little more slimline, console tables are a great option, they can sit behind a sofa and are used for table lamps and ornaments. 

Sophie Warren-Smith
Sophie Warren-Smith
Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 18 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time. On the side, as well as being the News Editor of indie magazine, 91, Sophie has a passion for flowers and colour and has recently launched an online styling course, Style with Blooms.

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