A gracious fireplace is the ideal focal point for a living room. Its architectural presence commands attention, its warmth is a comfort in cooler weather, and it provides a natural anchor for the main seating arrangement. It also allows for several options when it comes to arranging furniture. Perhaps one of these three floor plan ideas will spark your own creative space planning.

The most formal arrangement is to place an identical pair of sofas perpendicular to the fireplace. That creates a strong, immediate impression and emphasizes the mantel’s role as focal point. To finish the conversation grouping, you might place two chairs facing the fireplace. Add a large area rug, a central coffee table and end tables to complete the scene. If there’s sufficient room, a pair of footstools positioned directly in front of the fireplace would be great.

In similar though more casual fashion, position one sofa perpendicular to the fireplace but arrange a pair of chairs (rather than a second sofa) opposite. That works well if the chairs are placed between the living and dining room or entrance, as it may be preferable to look toward two chair backs and an interesting end table rather than toward a full sofa back. It’s most common to upholster the chairs in a fabric that coordinates with the sofa, rather than match it exactly. To finish the conversation grouping, add two different chairs or perhaps a daybed or bench.

For an even more casual arrangement, use only a combination of chairs, as in the photo. Here, the oversize chairs face each other, providing a tête-à-tête spot for the young couple who live in this home. The upholstered ottoman makes it the go-to spot for reading and relaxing. If more seating is required, you could have four chairs facing each other, with a bench facing the mantel. You might forgo a standard coffee table and opt for a taller games or library table. Although the table would block the fireplace from view, it would provide a cosy perch near the hearth, an ideal spot for a rousing game of cards.

Read more in the June issue of style at home magazine, styleathome.com