Don’t arrange all your furniture around the edge of a room.


If you’ve lined the perimeter of a room with your furniture, and you think this is acceptable — look out, because the design squad might be coming for you.

We urge you to think creatively about where to place your sofa, chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture.

But hold on a minute. Before you start lugging furniture back and forth, get yourself a notepad and draw a sketch of your room showing the windows, doors, and any prominent features like a fireplace, large radiators, chandeliers, built-ins, etc. Now experiment with different furniture arrangements using pencil and eraser. Or better yet, make small scale cutouts of your furniture pieces and have fun moving them around.

There are likely many different placements that will work for you, but there are some important pointers to keep in mind.

Before you do anything, stop and ask yourself a few questions about the room. Is it a living room where you hope to encourage friendly conversation? Is it a family room for watching television and spending downtime with loved ones? Or is it a traditional space meant for formal dining or entertaining?

Your furniture placement must reflect its function. (You’ll notice that lining the walls with furniture does not perform any useful function in any of these settings!)

For example, in a living room, you would try to encourage lively conversation, and arrange furniture in a friendly grouping to make it feel inviting for chatting and socializing. This means placing sofas and armchairs no more than five to seven ft. away from each other. If they are any further apart, you and your guests will have to shout at each other to be heard.

Another point to consider is traffic flow. Woe to those who do not pay attention to this important element in a room’s design. You will feel as if you are sitting in a movie theatre because your guests will be knocking furniture and each other’s knees as they navigate in and out of the space.

A good rule of thumb is that you must allocate anywhere from three to six ft. for paths leading from one room to another.

Another principle to keep in mind is that your furniture arrangement should also include a focal point. For example, it could be a fireplace or a picture window with a view. Or you could create a focal point using a dramatic sculpture on a table, or a large and much-loved piece of art on your wall.

If you are fortunate to have a large room, consider several groupings of furniture — one group might serve as a conversational area while another area might be for reading or watching television.

If you have a small room to furnish, choose compact furniture to help you avoid a claustrophobic feel. In addition, you must accept the scale of the room and avoid stuffing the room with furniture. Remember that in many cases, less is more.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take chances. Go ahead and impress your friends with a display of creativity and individuality. Just make sure you follow the rules.

Catch Arresting Design every Thursday at 10 p.m. on W Network.

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