You love your living room…its large and spacious, it has great natural lighting and there is ample scope to play with décor elements. But is your living room really as comfortable and functional as you would like it to be? Or is your seating design hindering with good conversation while all the small quirky individual furniture pieces you so love are together overwhelming the room design?
While you may be more than happy to move around a few cushions to create a comfy nook to seat your bum as you settle down to watch television or read every evening, pulling closer a dining chair to make a make-shift footrest, you could actually be eating in to functional circulation space every time you do this.
You don’t really mind….maybe you have grown to like this overwhelming room design that you call your Living Room simply because you love every individual piece of furniture in it, even if it doesn’t really match with the others around it. But it could be embarrassing to entertain guests in your home where the look and feel of your living room is…well, for the lack of a better word – CHAOS.
Is this really the best arrangement for a small room? Notice how functional circulation space is almost non-existent here.
On the other hand, this room sure has a lot of furniture – but it’s arranged in such a way that the overall look is systematic and well organized; letting you visually divide the area in to different functional zones.
With the Holiday Season here, most of us are looking forward to a few dinner and cocktail parties to celebrate with friends and family. However, the key to a good party is to not only ensure there is hordes of yummy food to impress your guests, but to also make sure that your guests are comfortable in your home and can enjoy the conversations just as much as the hors d’oeuvres! So here are some ideas to rearrange your furniture this Christmas….
Assessing the Space
You have a nice large area to work with, so it’s best to get a good ‘feel’ for the space. By this, I mean that you should visualize the room empty and then think of a furniture arrangement that will be both comfortable and functional. It can be hard to visualize when you see a ton of furniture already littering the space, hindering with your thought process, so either close your eyes and image the room empty or pull all furniture out in the patio before you start with the rearranging.
Don’t think of function as an after-thought; creating a zigzag pattern of circulation space because you have placed your furniture randomly. This can never really create a comfy, warm ambiance in the room.
And that means no matter how beautiful or expensive each individual piece of furniture may be; it will never ever look good if your furniture arrangement is not systematically organized.
This arrangement might consist of expensive furniture pieces, but the look here is absolutely cluttered! This is not what you want….instead, the following picture is a good example of how to arrange your furniture in a more pleasing, functional manner.
Think of how you use the living room. Is this the space you use for watching television as well as entertaining friends? Is this also the space used to eat dinner laid out on the coffee table while you sit back with your feet up on the couch, giving the whole ‘eating at the dining table’ a miss when it’s just the family? Do your kids do their homework and artwork sprawled out on the carpet, using the main coffee table to hold their school paraphernalia, which means you end up pushing the couches further closer to the wall to avoid color stains on your soft beige suede fabric every day?
All these functional uses of the living room MUST be kept in mind when you rearrange your furniture, or else, you will live in a perpetual furniture chaos.
Notice that though this room has ample seating space with three individual sofas, the resultant look is chaotic with a disconnect between all the furniture pieces present in the room
Function and Form: Striking the perfect balance
It’s important to think about how the space is used, rather than how you’d like it to be used. If the room is used for multiple purposes, it is best to also divide the area in separate ‘functional zones’ so that each purpose is addressed without having to pull and push furniture around every day.
For rooms that will serve more than one purpose, furniture, rugs, bookshelves and room dividers can be used to separate areas. The back of a couch along with a console table can make a great room divider as it creates a strong separation without blocking the room’s flow.
This arrangement uses the back of the couch to offer extra storage space to neatly organize clutter, while also makes a great style statement
Look at traffic patterns and focal points. Where are the doors, windows and awkward areas? What will be the focal point? If you have a fireplace or a large picture window, you have a natural focal point from which to center the room. If you don’t have a natural focal point, create your own using dramatic drapes, large-scale artwork or a substantial piece of furniture; something that grounds the space around which all other pieces will be arranged.
Here simple furniture pieces, all with their own individual design elements, come together to make a stylish, comfy seating space
Also, don’t be tempted to push all large pieces of furniture and arrange them along walls; make use of the central space as well, especially if the living room is large and spacious. Also, placing all seating against walls gives your living room a rather boring look…much like an institution! You want to create cozy, comfortable seating areas to encourage conversations; you cannot force too much furniture in to one area.
This arrangement strategically separates two seating areas with their own individual function. Rugs are used to visually separate the two areas, where one becomes the family sitting while the other becomes the entertaining zone.
In fact if the room is rather large, creating individual zones is always a great idea. One area can be used for entertaining, ideally set for conversations. And the other area could be set to become everyday use family space, where all furniture could point towards that large LCD screen you are so proud of. This can also be the space your kids use for homework or the family uses to play board games, and hence, the furniture here will be more functional and fuss-free.
And yes, you can have two distinctly separate areas in the same living room and yet create a balanced, harmonious look with continuous visual flow of space. All you need to do is think of a color scheme that runs throughout the room, while the individual furniture pieces can all be different shapes, sizes and even materials.
In fact, if the space is small, make use of bean bags. These are so versatile – point them towards the entertainment unit when enjoying your favourite TV shows, or turn them around and let them become a part of your seating arrangement to offer more sitting area when guests come to call upon you.
Here bean bags add versatility to a rather small seating area, allowing for more flexibility to use the space in different ways
The best seating arrangement is one that doesn’t just look great, but also encourages great flow of conversation. It isn’t just the couches or chairs that play a role here; lighting, comfort, position and even placement of side tables and end tables play their indispensible part in to making this space perfect for entertaining.
It really helps to think in terms of groups while rearranging your furniture. Sometimes a chair may need to be on its own in a corner, but usually sofas and chairs should form groups. If you have half a dozen people sitting down, does your seating aid conversation or hinder it? Does one person end up sitting sideways to the main group? The furniture on its own may look wonderful in the room, but remember that the furniture is there for the benefit of people, not the other way round.
Here, sofa and chairs are placed so they make it easy for people to chat to one another.
This setting is a perfect example of how you can have different colors and surface finishes, but still have a relaxing and interesting group.
Once you have good seating arrangements, you can go ahead and plan some occasional furniture. You need to have adequate table surfaces for drinks, books and table lamps. You can use many different types of tables – coffee tables, consoles, end tables, even upholstered ottomans. If you have cheap inexpensive side tables made of wood such as MDF, using a floor-length tablecloth to cover a table will result in a softer effect.
So enjoy the Holiday Season by decluttering your living room, creating a free flow of visual space that encourages great conversations and helps you create a warm, festive ambience that doesn’t lack in comfort or style!