Recently one of my readers typed a note in the comments, asking for my help with her decorating dilemma. Summer R. has a 16 foot by 20 foot living room with four points of entry, and a fireplace built into one of the corners of the room and she is having a hard time arranging furniture in the space.
I asked Summer to measure each wall starting at the left corner, working to the right side of that wall. I instructed her to write down the distance from the corner of the room to the first window ( if that was what it was), the length of that window, the amount of inches of space after that window to any door in the room, its width, and the amount of inches from the door (it here was one on that wall) to the right corner of the room. I told her to do that for each wall, and make sure she labeled the walls for north, south, east and west; so I would know which walls were which when making a scaled drawing of her space.
I then asked her to take measurements of any furniture she had, for depth and length, that she would be working with in the space. Summer supplied them and asked for suggestions for anything else that could be added, to make for an interesting and comfortable arrangement of furniture. Now let’s look at the eight different ways of arranging her furniture that I came up with.
Summer’s list of living room furniture to work with are…
One sofa 40″ deep x 100″ long (3’4″ by 8’4″),
One loveseat 40″ deep by 72″ long (3’4″ by 6′)
One ottoman 36″x36′ square,
Two end-tables 24″x24″.
To Summer’s furniture I am suggesting the addition of…
upholstered club chairs, wing chairs and occasional chairs 36″x36″ max, but preferably a few inches less in both directions,
an upholstered bench 20″ x 52/54″ wide,
a small upholstered bench 18″x24″,
a coffee table 2’x3′,
side chairs (SC)(arm-less dining room table chairs) 25″x25″, and
floor lamps for added illumination.
Illustration #1 shows the layout of the room with the measurements provided by Summer. Notice the labeling of the four walls (north, south, east and west), and where the points of entry come from when entering the room. Also look at the placement of the fireplace which is 65 inches wide and is seen on the south-west corner of the room.
Looking at illustrations # 1 and #2 you will see that the only long wall in the room where a sofa and two end tables could be placed is on the north wall; that wall has 13 feet 10 inches of running wall space. Working with the sofa and end-tables placed up against that wall, there really is no real room for the loveseat or other chairs to be placed by the sofa to form a conversation area. Any extra furniture would block one of the entrances into the room. In this instance, with the sofa placed as it is, all the rest of the furniture in illustrations #1 and #2 has been placed “Ball Room” style, which means that the chairs and loveseat are also placed along the walls of the room, not in the center.
In illustration #1 I tried to position the loveseat and a chair by the fireplace, to form a seating area. I also put a floor lamp behind the loveseat to provide lighting at that end of the room if needed.
In Illustration #2 the loveseat has been moved up in front of the window and a small coffee table was placed in front of it. A Small upholstered bench 18″x24″ was added in front of the fireplace for extra seating, and that bench could be moved around the room as needed. The floor lamp in illustration #2 has also been moved behind the chair by the fireplace, that chair has been re-positioned to now face toward the sofa.
Looking at the bottom (south-east) corner of the room in illustration #1, notice that two chairs have been placed next to each other to make a grouping that kind of faces the sofa, and a floor lamp was put behind them to light that corner of the room.
At the bottom of illustration #2 a floor lamp, one upholstered chair and a small round end table fill in that space.
If a TV was going to be placed in this living room, I would suggest hanging it on either side of the entrance to the hall, which is on the south wall of the room.
Please note… Because of the size of the living room, with its four points of entry, the fireplace could really not be addressed as the main focal point of the space. When coming up with different furniture arrangements for this living room, I looked at the fireplace as a secondary element in the space, thinking of it as just part of the background. My main objective was to make groupings of furniture that would promote togetherness and conversation.
Illustrations #3 and #4 show how furniture is much more easily grouped in the space, when it is floating in the center of room.
Looking at Illustration #3 notice how the three cushion sofa and the two cushion loveseat are floating out from the north and east walls of the room about 3 feet. One of Summer’s end tables has been placed between them. At the top of the room (west wall) by the window an upholstered chair and the second of Summer’s end tables are placed. For added seating in the room, an upholstered bench 20″x 52 to 54″ is placed by the fireplace. That bench could easily be moved up closer to the ottoman for extra group seating by the sofa when needed. A floor lamp was added to the bottom left corner of the room for extra illumination.
Illustration #4 is very similar to illustration #3, but now the upholstered chair and end table are pulled up closer to the sofa.
Illustration #5 shows the three cushion sofa floating out from the east wall about 3 feet and the loveseat is floating out from the north wall about 2 feet. The loveseat is flanked on each side by the two end-tables with lamps. On the south wall of the room, by the fireplace, are a pair of side chairs (sc) which are like arm-less dining room chairs, with a floor lamp between them. Those two side chairs could be moved up closer to the sofa, loveseat and ottoman when necessary to make a larger conversation grouping. A second floor lamp is seen in the left bottom corner of the room for extra illumination.
Illustration 6 has the three cushion sofa, again on the north wall, but this time it is placed close to the opening to the kitchen and is flanked on one side by an end-table with lamp. Opposite the sofa are a pair of upholstered chairs, with the second end-table with lamp between them. The loveseat is at the top of the room by the window.
Illustrations #7 and #8 have the sofa placed against the north wall again.
In illustration #7 notice how an upholstered chair is placed close to the sofa, by the ottoman. Next look at how the loveseat is angled in the south-east corner of the room, and it has a floor lamp placed behind it to illuminate that side of the room.
After that look at the single upholstered chair by the fireplace. Notice that it is facing toward the sofa area, and its angled like the loveseat toward the sofa. Finally look at how two more upholstered chairs are up by the window at the top of the room with a floor lamp between them.
Illustration #8 shows the sofa with two upholstered chairs placed on an angle opposite it. The chairs are about 3 feet from the south wall and one of the chairs if 2 1/2 feet from the east wall. Also notice how the small 18″x24″ upholstered bench (sb) has been added for extra seating.
The number one thing that I got out of doing this project for Summer, and that I want to pass on to you is….
If you are looking for furniture for a smaller sized room, and that room has many openings going into it, those openings take up a lot of valuable wall space where furniture could be placed. If you are in the market for new furniture look for sofas, loveseats and chairs that have a full-sized seating area, but don’t have a lot of extra padding, or arms that are over stuffed or flair way out. Also don’t buy furniture that is too deep, as even 4 extra inches of furniture size quickly eat up valuable space in a room. When buying upholstered chairs for a room like this, think about having a couple that swivel. Chairs that face a sofa, can easily be swiveled in the opposite direction to watch a TV on an opposite wall.
Summer’s sofa is three feet four inches deep by eight feet four inches long. I think she could have gotten a comfortable sofa three-foot deep by seven feet long and would have been able to seat the same amount of people on it. That smaller sized sofa would fit more comfortably in the space, and possibly make laying out furniture a bit easier.
Before buying any kind of furniture, be it living room, dining room, bedroom, etc. ask the furniture store for the dimensions of the furniture ( depth, length and height) that you are thinking of purchasing. Go home and take newspapers and tape them together to make templates the size of the furniture you are possibly getting. Lay those templates on the floor in the space where you think the furniture will go. In one second you will know if the piece(s) you are thinking about buying is/are just right for the space or too big.
So there you have it, eight possible ways of arranging furniture in a 16 foot by 20 foot space. I hope this post was inspiring.
If you are having a problem with laying out your furniture as Summer did, type me a note in the comments. Measure your room like Summer did and make a list of the furniture you have with its dimensions. I’m not promising anything, but your inquiry could be turned into an upcoming blog post.
Don’t forget to look at the companion posts that follow, as there could be something of interest that could be helpful.
Companion Posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden Home.com…..
Arranging Living Room Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, Like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
Arranging furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
Arranging furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room 2-5-2014,
Arranging furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room 9-29-2012,
When buying Living Room furniture, FORGET the LOVESEAT, buy two Wing, Club or Occasional Chairs instead 10-13-2012,
Arranging furniture in a 15 foot wide by 25 foot long Bedroom 1-24-2016,
Floating (Arranging) furniture in a 20 foot long by 20 foot wide Living Room 1-29-2017,
The Right way to hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011,
The Right height of Table Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011,
Matching the Right shape End table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014,
The answer to…”Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa?” 10-4-2012,
Interior Decorating with ACCENT Lamps 12-5-2012,
Interior Decorating with TABLE Lamps 12-12-2012,
IInterior Decorating with BUFFET lamps 12-19-2012,
Arranging your Decorative Accessories (knickknacks and Collectables) 6-7-2011,
A Bridge unites Tablescapes and Wall Decor 6-10-2011,
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over your Fireplace 6-23-2011,
It’s Easy to Make a Grouping of Pictures 6-29-2011,
Making an Interesting Arrangement of Pictures 7-8-2011,
It’s Easy to hang Pictures up on the wall 7-17-2011,
Hanging Pictures around a Room 8-3-2011,
Hanging Pictures over a Sofa 9-12-2011,
Step-by-Step instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015,
Hanging a collection of Plates/Dishes up on the wall 1-19-2013
Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabrics, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012,
Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and fabric 3-20-2012,
Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012,
Interior Decorating is ALL about Equal Balance 2-27-2011,
Pick (Use) four colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
It’s Easy to Decorate a Room with a Tall/High Ceiling 2-3-2013,
When Decorating a Beige room think Tones, Texture and Sculptural interest 3-16-2011,
Paint a room a Dark color, then add Light accents 3-27-2011,
Color Theory…When Interior Decorating a room, Remember Wood is a color too 3-9-2013,
How to pick the Perfect Gray Paint..A Popular Color Choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
How to pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug/Carpet 2-21-2016.
Thank you for the post. I’ll definitely try these and see which works best. It’s a new house for us so furniture has been difficult. I’ll for sure need to add a few pieces you have suggested. Thank you.
Hi there Summer, working on the post, I thought, even if one little bit of the placement of the furniture worked for you or someone else, the post would be a success. Looking at how quickly the post has attracted readers and how comments have been posted, I’m hoping it will be something that inspires many people.
Very nice, Fred! 3 and 8 appeal to me. This room reminds me of a problem room I have. Like this one, my room has a fireplace, Windows and doorways… I will measure and see what you can do.
I hope you have had a few days of springlike weather here and there as we have had. Even just those couple of days gave me a feeling of hope and happiness that better days are coming.
Hi there P.W. here in up-state New York, there have been a few warm days and rain which melted away a lot of the snow. Looking out at the back lawn, and again seeing grass made me think of the renewal of Spring. I haven’t heard the weather man say it yet, but I think we are at or a bit past the bottom of Winter, which means that it will not get much colder, but slowly go back in the direction of Spring. I think the days are getting a bit longer for light, so that is always encouraging.
P.W get measuring and listing you things for sizes, your dilemma could be something that inspires many. I never know what size room plan is of interest to many and could go viral, some of my posts like Arranging Living Room furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same Room and Arranging furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room have each been looked at and read hundreds of thousands of times.
I LOVE this post Fred. Absolutely love it. Trying to figure out a furniture layout for large rooms is so tricky. I have a living room/dining/kitchen room that’s 8m x 5m and it has 5 sets of external french doors (3 on one wall, 2 on another)…your post (like so many of your fantastic posts) is so helpful. Keep up the great work!
Hi there Kim, don’t know what 8m x5m turns into when converted into feet, but I think the bigger a room is the more options a person has for laying out furniture.
This was so educational — as are all of your posts! Thank you. It is so helpful to see you explain and draw out the possibilities.
Hi there Elle, thanks for your comment, it’s all about inspiring my readers.
Fred, I love your furniture arrangements. I have a problematic living room nearly the same size but it is impossible to arrange furniture in. I have a baby grand piano and we use the room as a living room/ family room. Do you have any ideas for decorating with a baby grand piano in a small room. Thank you for your beautiful insights on your site.
Hi there Ann, the “elephant” in the living room is the piano. I think that when you have a large piece of furniture like that, and have a smallish space, your room decorating is all about assembling a collection of really comfortable club chairs and possibly some footstools and completely forgetting the sofa. With a collection of chairs, some matched and some different you can group them to face each other for conversation, and then when needed they can be turned to face a TV. Chairs that swivel would also be welcome in a room like yours.
If you did have a sofa and you had a room like the one in the illustration, I would position the piano bench right up in front of the fireplace opening and have the piano at that side of the room, with its end hopefully not blocking the door that goes outside. I would then put the sofa on the long wall in the room and take it from there.
Wow Fred, so glad I stumbled across your website. I am so visual and your sketches are wonderfully helpful. I do think I have Summer beat as I have a living room with….5 or 6 entry points (depending on what counts as an entry point) plus a fireplace and TV on different walls. I have been wanting to buy new furniture for my living room ever since I bought my house almost two years ago, but I have no idea how to arrange my space. I have drawn it and redrawn it, scoured the internet for ideas, and even hired an interior designer to come see it and still I do not have a good plan. I would love your suggestions. If you are interested in tackling I will try to draw out an overhead view with measurements for you.
Hi there Mary, I have someone else to do first, but will be in touch with you. Look for a note from me, in the near future.
I love your ideas. I have an open floor plan living room (one “side” is the dining, opposite side is the kitchen), with lots and lots of windows that has a fireplace (with TV above it) *and* a baby grand piano (because there is literally no wall space where an upright wouldn’t have blocked a window or doorway). Even just gleaning tips from your sketches has been amazing and I have lots of ideas percolating for how to rearrange it. – Thanks!
Hi there Mom, look at the companion posts that follow my articles, there you will find more things that I’ve written about that might inspire you. Also look on the right side of my site, look for the word Categories, look at the different titles of topics that I’ve written about. Click on the different titles and all of the posts that I’ve written on the subject will be there for you to read. Thanks for your comment.
I love your blog! I came across it by chance, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s really educational and inspiring! Thank you!
I just moved, and I’m finding my new living room quite problematic. It has such a weird shape that I’m baffled as to what to do with it. It’s -kind of- L-shaped, there is one large window, a large open entrance, a narrow door that leads to a balcony, and to top it off, there’s a fireplace in a weird angle.
Is it just me?
I’m definitely going to try and apply your ideas here. Wish me luck! …and if you find it interesting enough and want to give me a hand, that would be awesome! 🙂
Hi there Sol, I have a person in line before you (I will be starting to look at her project after March 26th and then have to figure out how to address her problematic living room, make the drawings of possible layouts of furniture for her place and write the article), but after I’m done with her project, I will get in touch with you, and try to turn your problem into a blog post. Not promising anything, but maybe it will be a fun project. At this point that is the best I can offer.
Hi there Sol, tried sending you a note using the information that you wrote when you made an inquiry in the comments, but yahoo says you don’t have an account. If you can leave another note here, with a different email, I will see it on my WordPress dashboard and I will be in touch with you about working on your room layout. Thanks ;-}
Hi Fred! It’s great to hear from you!
That’s odd, I’ve been receiving emails with news and updates from your blog. I’ve been following your blog ever since (and learning a lot! XD).
I’m leaving this message with a different email. I hope it works.
Gah. I’m having a similar issue. I only have 3 points of entry (none on the left wall), but a 2 entries on the right wall which makes what’s left of that wall small and awkward. I’ve been having such a frustrating time trying to figure out what to do with it.
Several years ago your post on accent lamps helped me so much. Thank you for your simple straightforward information!
I thought this post would help me, but I have a greater dilemma. In my family room there are 3 points of entry and sliding glass doors. On top of that, there is an angled wall with a tv and built-in console and adjacent to that is a fireplace. Worse than that, there is floating angled wall across the room from the fireplace, which separates the family room and kitchen. I am buying all new furniture and need layout help!!
If you have a post that addresses these issues, please let me know. Thanks!!
Hi there Kelly, it is really hard to give information in on an oddly shaped room that I can’t see. Look at my post titled Arranging Furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room, being that that article covers oddly placed fireplaces, there might be something in it that will help you. Good luck with your project.
This is so very helpful! We are looking for the best way to arrange the furniture in our living room that is similar in size to this one and has 4 points of entry, with a fireplace. I would LOVE for you to help me with this as you did above. Are you still open to doing these?? Please say yes.
Hi there Stephanie. sorry to say No. I’ve been away from my blog for two years now, and WordPress changed up their format. I don’t even think I would be able to post anything new again. In the past it was soo easy, now it looks really hard to do.
I could use some help laying out furniture in an open concept combined kitchen and living room 13′ wide by 28′ long with a corner fireplace. Three points of entry.
I read this article and loved how thorough you were. Your details and advice are much appreciated, hope you are doing well.
A fan in Sayville, NY