Why The Final Touch Matters Most
“What’s the first thing you notice when you walk into a room?”
It’s a popular question to ask an interior designer. And more often than not, you’ll get the same answer: furniture placement. If your sofa is pushed up against the wall, keep reading. You may want to consider re-arranging your furniture.
What fills a room is usually the first thing anyone notices, professional designer or not. The difference between what a layman sees versus what a professional sees is that a pro’s eye can tell right away what is working about a space and what needs to be tweaked.
Wondering how your own stuff stacks up? We all like to think we’ve arranged our spaces well, but the truth is there are some very common mistakes designers see all the time. Have you ever been unsatisfied with the layout of a room but weren’t sure exactly why? If you can’t quite put your finger on what isn’t working in your home, see if you’re following these tried and true guidelines.
So, Where Should You Put That Sofa?
Furniture placement isn’t just the first thing people notice, it can highlight (or hide) the entire foundation of design: the focal point of your space.
There always has to be a focal point to a room.
Sometimes the focal point is obvious and built-in, like a gorgeous bay window or a striking stone fireplace. Sometimes, there isn’t a focal point until you create one. It could be a piece of art, a bookshelf, a mantle … anything that has special meaning, defines who and what the space is used for, or is just plain pretty. It doesn’t matter how a focal point is born, it just matters that the you arrange your furniture to compliment it. Once you’ve established or created your focus, use your furniture to pull people’s attention to that highlight.
Scale, Scale, Scale
Have you ever struggled to fit your grandmother’s armoire in a small bedroom or lamented that your favorite side table was dwarfed by too big a room? What about furnishing those attic spaces with virtually no wall space, or setting up a thin, long railroad apartment?
Most people have gotten stuck trying to place furniture in a room that is either too big, too small, or just oddly shaped. Any room can be well proportioned as long as scale is factored into your design.
Bigger Is Not Always Better
Stop buying oversized furniture! Do you really need a sofa that fits 12 people? If you have 10 kids, sure. But most people don’t need huge sectionals or big, bulky pieces. There are plenty of options that deliver the same comfort and function but won’t take up 75% of your living room. In fact, there’s a chance you don’t even need a sofa. Yes, we’re serious.
(And remember, the arms of furniture take up more room than you think! Watch for hidden space suckers and keep in mind how the whole piece of furniture will affect your space.)
Don’t be afraid to trade in your furniture to fit a new room. The loveseat you bought because it fit perfectly in your last house may not have a place in your new home. Sell it, donate it, or store it. Then choose new pieces that actually fit your current space. If there’s a piece you are sentimentally attached to and just can’t image getting rid of, consider repurposing it.
Good Things Come In Small (and Multi-Purpose) Packages
Stuck trying to figure out what to do with a small space? Definitely consider skipping the sofa altogether. Use small groupings instead, like two elegant chairs around a small table.
Dual purpose furniture can help create options; a storage ottoman can be used as a seat, a foot rest and the perfect place to stash essentials you don’t want to display. A drop leaf table can be opened to accommodate a big family or group of friends, then closed to open up a room.
Maybe you need to work around a room with wacky dimensions? Do you break into a cold sweat imagining movers struggling to even get your sofa through a narrow doorway or up a twisting staircase? Think Modular. Modular innovation has come a long way. Invest in a quality piece that can be assembled on the right side of the threshold. Or look to having something made; custom furniture will be sure to work with your measurements, and may be more affordable than you think.
One secret weapon we like to use whether you’ve got a larger space that allows for a few different clusters of furniture or a small space that requires flexibility for multiple uses? Two words: Swivel Chair.
Float your sofa, Wall your Bed and then Mix-Up The Rest
“I would never have thought of that!”
We hear that a lot. It seems a lot of people have gotten stuck thinking there’s one right way to set up a space. Are you guilty of going on autopilot when arranging furniture? The truth is there are only a few constants, and the rest really depends on each individual room. There’s no reason you need to set up a table directly under a light or have a huge TV you hardly watch in your living room. One trend us designers would like to see go the way of the dinosaur? Backing your sofa up against the wall.
Always float your sofa ! Why force it to live pushed to the side? Centering or flanking sofas creates a dynamic space. Just don’t position your furniture so the back faces the door. Walking into a room and seeing the back of a chair just isn’t inviting. One thing you don’t want to flank is your bed. The bed is generally the focal point of any bedroom, and it should be the first thing you see. Who doesn’t get mesmerized and invited into a space by a comfy, fluffy, pillowed bed? We’re kinda craving a nap just thinking about it.
Don’t feel you need to restrict yourself to the four original walls of your bedroom, though. Is there a view you want to wake up to each morning? Create a wall with a partition to curate your vision. Remember, you can create and customize your space exactly the way you want. Imagine waking up each day to your dream view. That alone could change your entire outlook all day long. Studies show the way you spend the first hour of your morning affects the rest of your day.
Measure Twice, Furnish Once
The right furniture and some strategic placement will make your home ridiculously fun and functional. Make sure to follow the age old advice: measure twice, cut once. Or in this case, measure twice, furnish once. Before you start choosing pieces and playing with floor plans, look at the big picture. What will the room look like when it’s filled with all your things? Instead of just imaging in 3D, picture the view from above. Sketching out an aerial view will help you see where you may need to pivot and adjust your set-up. Furniture can get pricey, so you want to know the lay out will work before you invest.
Your home should be a place you come to recoup, revitalize and refresh. A place that supports you in a way that leaves you energized, grounded and ready to conquer the world. Isn’t it worth it to invest in the place that brings out your best you?