10 Rules for Arranging Furniture the Right Way

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By Fred Albert

Like a blank page or canvas, an empty room can be either an opportunity or a challenge. With so many ways to fill it, how do you know where to start?

I've taken some of the basic rules of furniture arrangement and distilled them into 10 simple tips. They'll help you figure out where to put things, where not to put things and how to prioritize the choices you make.

These guidelines won't turn you into an interior designer overnight. But they'll steer you in the right direction and help you to achieve professional-looking results with a minimum of stress.


Traditional Living Room by Wilmette Architects & Building Designers Boomgaarden Architects

Function. Consider how the room is used and how many people will use it. That will dictate the type of furnishings you'll need and the amount of seating required




Priority. Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece should face the room's focal point. Chairs should be no more than 8 feet apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls.



Symmetry. Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual.



Traffic. Think about the flow of traffic through the room - generally the path between doorways. Don't block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones.

Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.





Contrast. Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, and a solid chair with a leggy table.

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