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Entries in basic furniture groupings (10)


The Sit Com Living Room

Hi Christine!

I'm so glad I found you again! I came across your blog a few months ago and *thought* bookmarked it.... Then I couldn't find you again after searching and searching. I did another search tonight and here you are! =))

Anyways...was wondering if you could help me with my living room. It's a big room (32'x26') and I'm stuck on how it should be set up. I'm going shopping for a new living room set in a few weeks but don't know what to buy for pieces. The couch there now is a sectional but the "turn" piece has been taken out. We've tried the room so many different ways but nothing feels right. I hope some "new eyes" can give me more ideas and a better layout.

Would love some input from you!

Thank you!

Hi Jen,
You really have a large room! That's fantastic. When I first saw it it reminded my of a sitcom set. What do you think? With the location of the front door-- the stair banister--

Everybody Loves Raymond...

The King of Queens...

The Cosby Show

All in The Family...
Anyway- sit coms are not necessarily known for their great interior design- so I am not suggesting you follow any of theirs. With a room that size- I would create a nice large sitting area to begin with. Look at the second photo. You can walk from your front door- right through the family room. Create a more intimate seating area. I would arrange your furniture similar to the photo below- with two sofas- parallel- and then two chairs. Behind the sofa that faces the door- put a nice console table that will create more of an entry space. Put a lamp or two on it- some photos. That kind of thing. Create an entry. I would keep your set up of having a table also. Your table has bar stools that tuck under it. That is perfect for the room that is short on space. You need to use more of your space. Get a larger table- real chairs. Larger furniture will have a better scale for the room- and the whole thing will feel better. While we are the subject of scale- your wall decor is small small small. I counted 34 small things on your walls- and that did not count the small items on top of your furniture. You need some larger pieces. Remember to have variety in wall decor subject, size, and numbers.
Thanks for writing in!


The Long Narrow Room

I have been googling and googling how to decorate a narrow living room. Finally, I came to your site! I am so "stuck" in my living room. It is a long narrow space. What I would really like is a space for watching TV and a space with a chaise to read, take a nap, or to just enjoy the natural sunlight (I would like the reading space by the French doors, only one door opens). The colors are set, so I cannot change the wall color or carpet (it is an apartment). I have no idea how to set furniture, and divide the space into two areas. The only furniture to stay is my leather black couch and the 46" TV. We also like the color red. As you can see in the attached pictures, the area is open to the kitchen. I hope you can guide me on how to arrange furniture and where should I place the TV and art work.
Thank you,
Dear Martha,

I wanted to start by giving some general information to anyone that has a long narrow room.

  1. Divide the space into two areas. Don't try to have it be one seating area. Unless you are working with a dining room and have a very long table- this is never a good idea.
  2. Whenever you have a long - solid, windowless, doorless wall like the one above- you need a case piece. Generally speaking- I would say go large- the larger the wall- the larger the case piece. This can be an entertainment unit, a bookcase, an etegere, something that breaks up the large wall, and helps to define the two separate areas. Trying to decorate that long wall with two sets of wall decor is rarely going to look good without a case piece.
  3. Help to define the two spaces further with the use of an area rug.

Now- I wanted to say a word about your chaise. I will start by saying that I am not a big fan of the single furniture piece. One piece of furniture, floating out there by itself is a hard thing to pull off. A chaise, of course, is not a conversational piece- it is a sit by yourself piece of furniture. Find a good table that goes nicely with your chaise to help ground it, and make it feel more like a furniture grouping. My opinion is that only when a piece of furniture is also a piece of art, can it sit by itself- otherwise- you need at least two pieces of furniture. Sometimes it is easier to pull off a chair and ottoman than a chaise. That is something to consider. I adore the Eames lounge... sigh... Notice the picture at the top of the post. This room seems to be even narrower than yours- but is a great example to look at. The desk is on an angle. In your room- this will be your chaise. In this room the sofa is against the wall. I think that your room is deep enough to not have your walkway right through your seating area. - like I showed in the floorplan. This would be ideal- but would depend on the size of your furniture. Notice how I made it a long seating area with the use of the two chairs? That helps it to fill the space nicely. Keeping your TV on the wall where you currently have it- is asking for a very awkward space.

Thanks for writing in- you have a tricky set up here. Let me know if you have further questions. Also check out this post on another long and narrow room.



Samantha's Furniture Arranging

Hi Christine,

I have been searching the web trying to find something or someone to help me with the layout of my living room. I just renovated the entire house and put in a nana door in the living room. So the living room opens up to a covered outside porch. It is a sunken living room and you walk down a couple of stairs from the dining room into the living room. There is no fireplace or tv so I think the focal point is the nana door. But I can't figure out whether I should have two couches or a sectional. I need some help. Hopefully you can give me some insight.

I've attached a picture of the living room.


Hi Samantha,

The main idea for furniture arranging around your focal point is simply that the main furniture piece- most commonly the sofa- faces - or with a set of two, frames- the focal point. You will, of course, consider how many people you want to seat in determining what arrangement to use- I will give you a couple of ideas.

This arrangement is really what you have now- with one exception- instead of high back chairs- these are quite low- allowing the family to take advantage of the view (focal point). Your current furniture also seems to be too small a scale- so I am suggesting lower- but larger.

Two sofas parallel to one another is one of my favorite arrangements. Don't you dare put them against the walls- bring them into the room if you go this direction. (I am sure you wouldn't actually do that- I said that for the benefit of any reader who would consider such an atrocity.) This is also a good setting to use a daybed- (backless sofa)- like the one above. It is not where you'd want to watch a movie- but notice how it really gets out of the way of the view. They come in some really fabulous styles- and I like how they are more unexpected, as they are used less frequently than more traditional furniture.

When I am working with large walls, like you have on the left- I like to use large wall pieces- like the one above. It is a nice alternative to just having wall decor hanging on such a large space.
A couple of other things:
  1. A large rug. Get one large enough to ground your seating area.
  2. Just because you just spent a lot of money on your window don't get some crazy idea to not use drapery panels. You still need them. They will mostly stack off- don't worry about the few inches of window that are covered. It is one of the elements that will soften the room (you have a lot of hard surfaces)- and make the room feel more finished.
  3. I would paint your ceiling a sharper contrast than your walls to accentuate it more. Darker or lighter- of course you won't select paint colors until after your furniture pieces and drapery panels are selected.


Maryann's Family Room

Hi Christine,
Wow! Thanks for what you do. I really could use some advice for my family room. Starting with the basics: paint color, window treatments and furniture layout, etc. The upholstered furniture and carpet are very worn and need to be replaced. I tend to choose classic simple pieces. I gravitate towards greens, browns, purples, red and dark wood. I’d like to have the fireplace stand out. I’m also stuck with what to do on the left wall.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Hi Maryann,

The first step I would take is to decide what furniture layout you want. For this, draw a "to scale" floorplan of your room, and try out a couple of different options.

Currently you have a sofa and two chairs; perhaps you have room for four chairs.

Try chairs of different sizes. I figure out exactly what size would look best on paper- and then go find that size of chair. This helps you to not have chairs that are too small or too large for the room. I also keep in mind if this is a "lounge chair" or a decorative chair. For lounge chairs I like to have at least 36 inches of depth with a tight back, and 38 inches with a pillow back (generally speaking).

Maybe you would like the two sofa look instead...

This goes for deciding your quantity and size of tables as well. You can check yourself with some blue masking tape on the floor to make sure that you have given yourself sufficient walk spaces.

Maybe you have room for two sofas and two chairs. Ask yourself how many people you want to seat in the room- and then see if it will work.

Then you need to start somewhere- perhaps you will find a chair and fall in love with it... maybe it will be a fabric for your drapes... you need an inspiration piece to chart your color pallet and path. I wouldn't try to fit both red and purple in the room. (chair from Horchow)

After you have a fabric to work with- it will be more clear to find others that coordinate. This is a drapery fabric from Beacon Hill. Have your panels- four on the large wall of windows- and the two on the wall with the TV- all hang at the same taller height. Layer your window treatments with woven woods or a solid color Roman shade. I would pull out the dark neutral khaki shade for a carpet color- or better yet- continue with your stone floors and put in an area rug. (is that Jerusalem Gold limestone?) The rug at the top of the post is from

Add your sofa. Vary different textures in your selections. (sofa from Horchow)

After you have made these selections, it is time to select your wall color. If you want your fireplace to "stand out" like you mentioned- you will go with a high contrast in color. With the light colored stone- you would use a darker color on the wall. After you have fabrics- you have something to match paint samples to.

It looks to me like your sofa is pushed up against the pony wall. I would push everything closer to the TV- pulling your furniture into the room. What to do with the left wall??? It looks to me like your door and stereo components are filling what I can see- but you do need some art and wall decor in your room.

You have a beautiful home- it will look great!


D is for decorating!

Leigh's Living Room

Hi Christine,

Here are photos of the living room.

The paint color in the living room is fine, a light brownish tan and I like the faux finish on the walls. I guess with this room we need help with furniture. Like a couch and 2 chairs? Tables? Lamp style? Rugs? What goes on the mantle and on the bookshelves? There is a space for a TV, but we aren’t putting a TV in this room.

Leigh Goodwin

Dear Leigh,

Without dimensions and a complete floorplan, I cannot tell you exactly what to do for furniture in your family room, but I can tell you how to do it.

First, consider form and space.

Form and Space

Form = pieces of furniture, plants, etc
Space- the area in between furniture

Don’t line furniture against walls.

Look at the shape of the negative space.

Your room appears to be large enough to "float" your furniture, meaning, not having it against your walls. This, in most cases, is the ideal. I would keep your furniture away from your wall of windows.
  1. Get some graph paper.

  2. Draw a "to scale" plan of your room.

  3. Include windows, doorways, fireplace, etc.

Get some darker paper, and cut out some furniture. Try out a few basic groupings on your floor plan.

  • L- shape- this is what you already have- do not do one like this. But a different sectional might work- don't rule it out. Pull it away from the walls, and have the long portion sit parallel to the firelace.
  • U shape- this would be like a sofa, with a chair on either side of it.
  • Box shape- this would be a sofa, with a chair on either side, and also two ottomans in front of the fireplace.
  • Circular- an example of this would be four comfortable chairs with a round ottoman or table in the center of them.
  • Parallel- This is the best grouping for emphasizing focal point- it frames focal point. An example woud be two sofas across from one another.

Play with it, figure out what size of furniture would work best for your area- then go shopping! Be careful of size. Looking for a "Tuscan" feel especially, the furniture is sometimes over-sized. take your floorplan with you- make sure you select furniture that is a good proportion for your room.

I would find out what company did the built-ins, and have them make a couple more doors to cover up your TV whole- otherwise, it will invariably look like a TV spot without a TV in it.

Check out these posts on fireplace mantles. Your fireplace is the focal point of the room, spend some time and money on it. This iss a good place to start- select a great piece of art- like the one at the top of the post- Red Poppy Panorama, by Lombardi. This gives you a pallet to select other colors for your rug and fabrics from.

Be sure to incorporate the colors from your kitchen area, as they are open to each other- they should have a good flow.

For more ABC Wednesday, check out Mrs. Nesbitt's place:

Good luck Leigh, thanks for writing in!


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