Arrange Your Furniture into Zones

In many homes, the living room serves more uses than any other room, so it’s important to find the best arrangement for your furnishings. One fundamental rule of interior design is to avoid putting all of your furniture against the walls. This tip isn’t only for aesthetic reasons; breaking a room into zones can improve how it serves for multiple functions.

Whether you have a large room to segment or a smaller space you’d like to optimize, there are some simple changes you can make. First, consider the main function of the room. If it’s primarily used for television-watching, orient seating towards the TV. If it’s used for socializing, create cozy seating groups. “Float” the sofa group in the middle, away from the walls. A coffee table or two end tables balance the larger pieces, and offer surfaces for placing books, drinks or lamps. A sofa table positioned against the back of the sofa offers tabletop space, storage, and function as office space or a laptop station.

Keep in mind the flow of traffic through the room. You don’t want to have to negotiate around furniture as you pass through, or obstruct the natural path near doorways. Also consider any architectural focal points the room may have. Incorporate the fireplace or picture window as the main feature of the arrangement.

Often, a family’s official dining room is only used for more formal occasions or when hosting extra guests. A casual dining table and chairs placed in the living room becomes a handy extension of the kitchen. Outside of regular mealtime, it works as a buffet on game day, extra seating on Thanksgiving, or as the go-to station for homework, projects, or board games.

If you’re incorporating a children’s play zone, organization is key. Make use of any built-in storage or add a row of cubbies for toys. Instead of a cocktail table, consider a storage ottoman. The soft surface is safer should roughhousing begin, plus the interior storage is a great place to tuck away toys and games when the room is used by the grownups. You can add a tray to the top for a stable surface to set drinks and snacks on, or remove the tray and use it as extra seating when you entertain guests.

There are many options available in home office furniture, scaled for different needs and different spaces. Whether you have lots of peripheral computer equipment or just need room for a laptop, there’s a desk for you. Take advantage of wall space and add an extra shelf or bulletin board. Set up the library beside it; a set of bookshelves can line the wall or extend into the room creating a divider. Use the kind with open shelves and place art objects on them along with books. Both sides of the room will have a pleasing view.

Another way to define a zone is with an area rug. It defines a boundary without creating an actual barrier. Alternately, a few tall potted plants or a decorative folding screen easily section off part of a room while adding beauty. To open up space, or break up a room that feels too boxy, arrange the furniture at an angle. Align the sofa and coffee table toward the doorway, creating a path to the seating.