How to Plan Furniture Placement in a Room
Furniture serves several purposes in a home. Most of it will be functional on some level — a sofa to sit on, a bed to sleep in, a cabinet to store things in — but some pieces may be more about their form. As with every other aspect of design, furniture contributes to the whole scheme. Where you place it in a room will impact on the overall symmetry, balance, juxtaposition and sense of scale. We’ve all walked into a room that feels simply perfect. Everything is in its rightful place. But what is it that makes a room layout work?
Let’s take a look.
Where to begin
Most people naturally want to position the largest items in a room first and work out from there. This can certainly result in a functional arrangement, but you will gain more impact if you begin with your star pieces.
Where will your great grandfather’s beautiful desk go? Or that vintage star parquet cabinet? What about the pair of antique chairs upholstered in textured velvet? Consider where they are best placed for maximum impact. Can you get a glimpse of them from nearby rooms or windows?
Using the grid
The grid should always be at the centre of your furniture placement. Position key pieces to reinforce the horizontal and vertical planes. Tall cabinets and high-backed chairs will emphasise height (the vertical). Extra-long dining tables, sofas, cabinets and coffee tables will add width (the horizontal).
As part of your initial design plan, you will have divided your space into zones for the different activities that happen in a room. Your furniture will play a large part in marking and creating those zones. In an open plan living, dining, kitchen area, for example, the position of furniture can subtly mark out invisible boundaries. Allow enough space between pieces to create flow within and between each zone.
You absolutely must plan your furniture layout using a scaled plan to achieve the best results. It’s easy to stifle your imagination with visions of how things used to be laid out. Empty both the room and your mind and begin with a new canvas. Cut out scaled representations of your furniture and play with them on the plan. It will really help you to visualise space and how things fit together.
A spatial plan will help you to establish if your inventory of furniture will fit into the room and contribute to the scheme. As you look at the plan, think about all the activities that you do in the room and how you will live your life around the furniture. If there’s that one awkward piece that only fits in a certain spot, why not send it off to auction? Replace it with something that fits in terms of dimensions, function and style.
If you struggle to picture a room in 3D when working with a 2D plan, consider having elevations drawn up. They will help you to judge the proportions of different furniture in relation to each other as well as the room. You can also use them to plan your lighting scheme. Elevations are costly but they will save you the price of making mistakes.
It may sound like an obvious statement, but make sure that each piece of furniture will fit into the room. Guestimates result in disaster. Dimensions aren’t only about placing the object in the room. Can you fit it through the front door, take it round that tight bend in the hallway or get it up the stairs? If you’re making physical alterations to a space, will that have an impact?
Look and feel
The perfect room contains an eclectic mix of furniture from a variety of sources and they will all be strategically placed. High-street staples are juxtaposed against iconic design pieces; flea-market bargains against treasured heirlooms. Like your wardrobe, a room in your home should tell the story of who you are. Each piece of furniture has its own place and its own role to play.
Always refrain from buying all your furniture from one favourite store or designer. Your home will become a sterile showroom. It’s the mix of inexpensive, vintage and investment pieces that make a home feel real.
When putting pieces together, consider their individual character. We tend to think of furniture as either masculine or feminine, introvert or extrovert. Are the lines minimalist and structural or shapely and alluring? Is the form bold and dramatic or understated and subtle? Study every piece. What mood does it bring to the room?
The big picture
There are a lot of elements to think about when it comes to furniture placement. Zoning, the grid, spatial planning and mood are all critical considerations that should be explored in relation to each other. They are pieces of the same jigsaw puzzle, working together to create balance and harmony.