Sandbanks Show apartment:  Living room by SMB Interior Design Ltd

​How to plan the right living room layout

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan

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Just bought a new home? Renovating your current house? Doesn’t matter – that living room of yours will require a practical layout to help make it one of the most sociable spaces. 

Far too many people think there’s nothing to arranging a living room layout, yet are then surprised when the end result is a bit cluttered… or impractical… or ugly… or just doesn’t work. And although it might sound simple enough to place a sofa over here and a coffee table over there, even the most straightforward parts of space planning can get complicated quickly. 

That’s why we’ve bunched together these living room layout ideas to help get you started!

​1. Living room layout ideas: Plan first

Living Room:  Living room by CATO creative
CATO creative

Living Room

CATO creative

First of all, think about how you spend your time in the living room. Better yet, write it down on a piece of paper!

Then think about how conversation and traffic flow. How do you enter the living room? Is it easy enough to move between the chairs? To get around the corner of a sofa? The last thing anybody should feel in a living room is trapped, or that they are putting in extra effort just to reach the doorway, etc. 

But you also don’t want to leave too much space between seating – conversation needs to flow easily!

​2. Living room layout ideas: Arranging and rearranging

Living Room and Dining Area:  Living room by Roselind Wilson Design
Roselind Wilson Design

Living Room and Dining Area

Roselind Wilson Design

Part two involves a little drawing and sketching – start off with a scaled drawing of your living room space, measuring the existing furniture and making to-scale cut-outs of each piece to play with. This is much easier than actually having to move those furniture pieces around. 

If you really don’t have the time to draw your living room layout, there is a plan B: take off a good hour or so, grab a friend or family member, and physically move those pieces around. Move out everything that’s easy to carry first, just to get a new view of the room. Then change everything – even lose the rug to see how it affects the living room. 

Every time you arrange a new layout, take a few minutes to sit down and take it all in – how will this new layout affect how you spend your time in the living room? 

Regardless of which living room layout you decide on, remember the following:  

•Try to keep 38—45cm between upholstery and the coffee table. 

• Make sure you have 60—120cm of walking space in a main pathway. 

• Angled furniture always take up extra space. 

• Try symmetry first — this often works well in living rooms.

​3. Living room layout ideas: Keep everything to scale

The size of your furniture can make or break your living room layout – or any room, for that matter. Having too much room, too little space, or too bulky pieces can really throw off the look and feel of the room. 

And remember: just because the size and scale of something looks ideal in a store (or in an online photo) doesn’t mean it’s perfect for your living room. Larger rooms require larger furniture, and smaller rooms require a smaller scale. 

In addition to size, comfort is another crucial factor. Buy furnishings that fit your style. Play around with different-sized pieces – would you prefer to lounge on a cushy couch, or sit comfortably-yet-formally on a nice wingback chair?

​4. Living room layout ideas: Buying furniture

Sandbanks Show apartment:  Living room by SMB Interior Design Ltd
SMB Interior Design Ltd

Sandbanks Show apartment

SMB Interior Design Ltd

A new living room layout doesn’t always mean new furniture – but sometimes it does, even if it’s just a fresh piece here and there. 

If you’re purchasing new add-ons, we suggest choosing the sofa first, as it’s usually the largest piece in the living room. When buying a sofa, go moderate in size – you never know when it might be used in a future house or another room. 

homify hint: Keep entertaining in mind and choose furniture that can be used with larger groups, when required. Slip a bench under a roomy console for extra seating or get some ottomans that can double up as side tables or seating.

5. Living room layout ideas: What about the telly?

Although usually not the prettiest piece in a living room, for many of us it’s a must-have. Fortunately, flat-screen televisions lessen the design dilemma. 

Keep comfort in mind when placing your television—make sure not to hang it at a height that’ll result in neck ache. Above the fireplace can be too high, unless the sofa has enough distance so your neck doesn’t have to strain. The general rule of thumb is not to put the TV more than 3m or less than 1.8m away from where you’re sitting. 

Speaking of living rooms and style, find out the 9 things to consider when choosing a sofa.

What other suggestions do you have for planning a proper living room layout?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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