Furniture Arrangement #1: Form Follows Function

In fact, lining the furniture up along the walls doesn’t work well even if the space actually is a doctor’s office/waiting room.

Furniture arrangement can be baffling, but don’t just give up and line the furniture along the walls.

The space will look like a waiting room and won’t be functional.

Your (feeble) justification that at least the room looks more spacious, is analogous to thinking the upside of going to Hell is all the interesting people you’ll meet.

Dude, you’re still in hell…


Believe it or not. An attractive furniture arrangement combining functionality with comfort isn’t hard to develop. Understand that good home design has its own irrefutable logic.

Your furniture should do something besides just sit there. What is its purpose besides the obvious? Be clear about how you intend to use your furniture.

Otherwise, without an end result in mind, you’re not accomplishing much besides storage. Form actually does follow function in this case: Think it through.

Let’s say you would love a place to curl up with a good book. A largish upholstered chair is a comfort basic for good reason. Add an ottoman if you are more the “lounge” than “curl” type. Next, a good reading lamp is essential to avoid eyestrain. Standing floor lamps are great for task lighting. They don’t take up space if you don’t have much. Or consider a lamp on a table. You’ll want at least a small table in any event, because you will need a place to set your drink or anything else you’ll be using while you sit.

Furniture arrangement decoded:This is a classic solution for comfort and convenience.

You have bigger fish to fry. Your living room is often the most important room in the house because of its frequent use and multi-functions. Use the same “think it through” principle as detailed above.  Think first about how the room is to be used. Then think through what’s needed to support those activities.

Create conversation areas worth talking about.  Your primary goal is to create a great looking seating area that allows for comfortable conversation without raising your voice or twisting to make eye contact.

Start with the biggest piece, which is probably the sofa.  Have two chairs flanking or opposing and a coffee table in the middle close enough for everyone to set drinks or food.  A sofa and a love seat at right angles and a chair or two opposite can work as well.

Keeping the sofa and chairs within eight feet of each other is a good measure.   Allow 14” to 18” between the coffee table and the front of the sofa for easier access.

Small tables as end pieces can be added as extra surfaces for convenience. Drinks set on floors have a way of becoming future messes to mop up. Always have some sort of flat surface handy for this purpose.

A word to the bruised.  Be mindful of any sharp corners on tables in areas people are likely to pass close by and move them from harm’s way. Better yet, use tables with rounded edges or round tables in these areas.

Consider the light fixtures next. Most people tend to under-light their homes by having only a few sources with too high wattage. For the best effect as well as comfort, you want fixtures that will provide good overall lighting AND lighting that best enhances the types of activities you’ll be doing in that area. Sconces, table lamps and standing floor lamps are all good options.

Think of using the lights in pairs. Why pairs? Because a few pairs in a room help to “ground” the overall scheme.

Too many “one-offs” and your home will look like a clearance sale.
Next Time: Furniture Arrangement  #2: Make A Plan
Related Posts

(Furniture Arrangement Three Part Series)

Furniture Arrangement  #2: Make A Plan

Furniture Arrangement #3: How Does This Look?

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The original version of this post was published on It’s presented here as a foundation for further discussion.