Updated date:

How to Plan Your Room Layout

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Homeowners and renters often want to how to layout a room. If you recently moved into a new house or apartment, an efficient layout of the space can save you money and time. A number of things need consideration when putting a room together--traffic patterns, seating arrangements and determining the function of the space. The room's measurements are just as important when you consider the dimensions of each piece of furniture.

In addition, there are substantial obstacles such as oversized windows, doorways, fireplaces, televisions, built-ins and odd wall angles. To help clear the air on this subject we’ve put together informative tips when planning your room to fit your lifestyle.

1. Start With a Clean Slate

Interior designers dislike dealing with a room full of furniture so they always begin with an empty room. Use a blank piece of graph paper or a software program to arrange the furnishings before physically moving your furniture. You can do it just like the pros by searching for free online room planning software or simply picking up a pad of paper, pencil and an eraser. It’s a fun learning experience and a great place to start.

If it's possible, clear out the room and start with an empty space.

If it's possible, clear out the room and start with an empty space.

2. Establish Focal Points

Virtually every room most likely has a focal point. Large spaces might even have more than one. Before you start placing furniture locate the room’s main focal points. Architectural features such as a fireplace, French doors, bay window or built-in shelves will definitely impact furniture placement.

In a family room, seating is usually facing the television which has become an additional focal point. Similarly, artwork, light fixtures or an accent wall can constitute a minor focal point. Plan the layout to take advantage of those types of features.

Work the layout around a main focal point in the room.

Work the layout around a main focal point in the room.

3. Let the Rugs Be Your Guide

Consider using an area rug as a guide for furniture placement. Most furniture groupings will easily fit on an 8 x 10 foot rug. Once you’ve placed the rug in the room start arranging furniture on the rug. In a living room, the front two feet of your sofa and chairs should at least be on the edge of the rug to anchor the layout.

In a dining room, the table and chairs should be centered on the rug. When the chairs are pulled back from the table the front legs should be on the rug. In a large bedroom, an oversize rug can be completely positioned under the bed and nightstands. In a smaller bedroom, you can place an 8 x 10 rug under and toward the foot of the bed.

Find a rug that fits the size of the room and it can anchor the furniture.

Find a rug that fits the size of the room and it can anchor the furniture.

4. Select Seating

In a living room, family room or great room try to begin with a sofa or sectional and a couple of comfy armchairs. If your living room is small a,n apartment size sofa with track or recessed arms is the perfect choice to create open space and clean lines. In an open space, an oversize chubby sofa will create proper proportion and scale.

Choose chairs depending on how you tend to use them. A modern recliner is great for viewing movies or television. A club chair works well for reading and conversation. If you read, view and entertain in one room incorporate a mix of seating styles. Accent or occasional seating is perfect for communal spaces. Benches, accent chairs or poufs add color, texture, and personality to a room. While they're seldom used by family members, you can place them around the room for additional guest seating.

Gradually bring in furniture pieces to create a livable space.

Gradually bring in furniture pieces to create a livable space.

5. Embrace Balance and Harmony

Symmetry is a key concept when dealing with furniture placement. Equilibrium equates to order, stability, and harmony while creating a visually pleasing room. In oddly shaped rooms finding balance may not be as easy. If the furniture seems lopsided try using wall art, decorative accessories, and lighting to help create an even distribution of visual weight.

Symmetry gives your room layout stability and a pleasing visual environment.

Symmetry gives your room layout stability and a pleasing visual environment.

6. Consider Traffic Flow

There’s nothing worse than a room that overloaded with furniture. Each room needs an ample amount of space so one can move through the room and into adjacent spaces. As a rule of thumb, allow approximately three feet for ease of traffic flow.

If your furniture is situated on an area rug use the distance around the perimeter of the rug as a pathway to easily move through the space into to the next room. Within a seating group, traffic patterns can be slightly narrower. Allow at least 24 inches between chairs and 18 inches in between the sofa and coffee table.

Keep your room from becoming too cluttered with furniture.

Keep your room from becoming too cluttered with furniture.

7. Create Functional Zones

Because every room has a particular function, furniture placement should be adaptable to that particular space. There's not really a static formula for arranging furniture. It’s best to consider the room’s use as you begin to plan. The room’s function will ultimately help determine the layout.

Rooms can be used for entertaining, relaxing, working or storing items. Does the room need a desk, bar cart or shelving for organizing? Maybe it’s used as a media room, a private space or an area for entertaining guests.

Once you have laid out the main seating and furniture pieces check out other parts of the room to create additional zones. Is the room big enough to accommodate another conversation grouping? Bare spaces can be used as a reading nook with a comfortable armchair, ottoman and reading lamp.

If you work at home or need a place to pay the bills why not add a desk, wall organizer and filing cabinet. An unused corner is an ideal spot for a bank of bookcases or shelving for storage. One room can easily handle multiple functions—even the smallest of spaces.

If you have an open concept home, use a piece of furniture to divide functional zones.

If you have an open concept home, use a piece of furniture to divide functional zones.

8. Don't Forget the Walls

After you’ve placed the furniture and accessories don’t neglect the walls. If you have an open plan, think about where to place furniture and artwork with a lack of wall space. Try to take advantage of the minimal wall space to complete the room with wall art.

If you have expansive blank walls one of our favorites is a grand gallery. Matching frames with similar images look impressive hung in multiple rows above a sofa or on any wall as a focal point. If you like the Bohemian look, create an asymmetrical gallery combining photos, mirrors, paintings, baskets and macramé wall hangings. This type of art installation can grow as you collect additional pieces.

Once you've placed the furniture, add artwork on the walls to help supplement the design layout.

Once you've placed the furniture, add artwork on the walls to help supplement the design layout.

© 2019 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 26, 2019:

Glad you liked this article, Kenzie. Planning furniture arrangement can be fun. Just like you using graph paper or Photoshop. It makes it much easier instead of literally moving the furniture around in the space multiple times.

Kenzie Cartwright from San Myshuno on August 25, 2019:

Great tips; since moving furniture is so hard (especially in not so big a space) I always try to use a diagram on paper or on photoshop and try moving things around that way. I like the idea of using a rug as like a platform. Thanks!

Liz Westwood from UK on February 15, 2019:

That would be a major de-cluttering exercise.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 15, 2019:

Liz, it would be wonderful to be able to completely clear everything out and start all over again!

Liz Westwood from UK on February 15, 2019:

Having read these great tips, I feel like I could do with starting over again with a blank canvas.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 14, 2019:

Eman, I do like the images in this article. It makes the article even more interesting. Thank you for reading this one!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on February 14, 2019:

Thank you, Linda, for this interesting and useful article. I loved the art on the wall in the last picture very much.