small-living-room
To the right is a pretty standard small living room floorplan: the kitchen is near the entrance and the living space is roughly L-shaped, with the exterior of the home, with windows or a balcony, across the room from the entrance.

Let’s assume we are working with the basic types of living room furniture: an entry cabinet, two book cases, dining room table, reading armchair and small table, sofa, accent chair, coffee table, and low cabinet with a TV. Also assume for the sake simplicity in this furniture arranging guide that the dining room table and entry table must stay in their locations below.

Below is a fairly typical way a lot of people would organize this small living room.

However, there is a lot of room for improvement in this arrangement.

Why this living room furniture layout isn’t very good

It may be instinctive the put the couch against the wall, but that would not be ideal because then the sofa would be blocking the windows (which should never be blocked) and the light would stream in through the window during the daytime and make the TV difficult to watch.

The small gray chair is in a “vulnerable” position because the back is completely unprotected, and people will probably be very reluctant to sit there, though they probably won’t realize exactly why.

The long bookcase on the right side at least doesn’t block the window, but it does create a “dead zone” with no apparent purpose for that section of the living room.

The brown armchair designed for reading and relaxing is right next to the kitchen, which is usually the most “energetic” feeling room in a home. It will be very hard for people to get comfortable and concentrate there; instead, there should be some sort of barrier or physical distance to create a “safe” zone.

Finally, the red lamp next to the couch blocks off traffic flow on that side and forces people to enter the seating area from only one side. Walk spaces should be at least two feet wide.

Here’s a much better small living room layout.

Why this small living room furniture arrangement is much better

The couch gives people a clear view of the TV and of the windows, so that’s two pluses. The only potential negative thing about the couch’s position is that it’s in a more “exposed” location than the previous floorplan (by not having its back against the wall). However, by using a bookcase to mimic the impact of having a wall at your back, and by positioning the couch across from the kitchen and not the front door (the most exposed location in a living room), that effect is mitigated.

Additionally, the small gray chair has its back protected by the wall behind it. There is also enough space in this section of the apartment for people to move freely between the seating, coffee table and TV.

The reading nook is across the room and diagonal to the kitchen, in a protected corner with a floor lamp to help set the area apart as its own space. The back of the chair is against two walls but does not block the view of the window.

General tips for arranging furniture in small living room

When deciding on your living room furniture arrangement, you should work from biggest to smallest, finding a place for the biggest pieces first.

Try to put the TV in front (if it won’t block it) of or near the room’s natural focal point, whether that’s is the windows, fireplace or something else.

Decide the functions you need the living room to serve (office? library? workout area?) and create little self-contained sections for each activity, like the reading area in the example above.

Try to “protect” the rest of the room from the sense of vulnerability caused by the entrance to the outside. Use furniture to act like pseudo-walls and position seating carefully to maximize the sense of security in the living room.

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Top photo: Emily Snuffer

2 Responses to How to Arrange the Furniture Layout of a Small Living Room

  1. Kaytee says:

    Interesting solutions, but I’m wondering about other living spaces, such as a bedroom, and especially a bathroom. Is the assumption about keeping the entry cabinet and dining set in place b/c of a passage to one of these other rooms? Or does the sofa become the bed and the bathroom is down the hall? Just curious.

  2. Elizabeth Watson says:

    I have a small living room and I just don’t find it cozy. I have an oak entertainment/china unit on the west wall, an oak sideboard on the east wall. The grey sofa backs onto to the breakfast bar and faces north. Behind the sofa is a small library table to separate it from the kitchen area. At the north wall is a window onto the deck and I have a white love seat catty corner and a grey arm chair next to the door going to the deck. There is a lamp table between the love seat and chair and a coffee table in front of the sofa. Does anyone have suggestions on how I could make this space more inviting?

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