7 steps for creating a functional living room layout

Living room layout. Oh such an important topic! The chances are it goes something like this:

Dream: having that perfect living room where you feel comfortable, everything is easily accessible and very functional.
Reality: You keep moving things around, adding pieces of decor in the hope that they will magically transform your living room into the perfect vision you have in your head. But something is not quite right.

If this dissonance sounds familiar, then this step-by-step guide will come in handy.

(Get the guide above for you to have or just keep reading!)

The same way that every house needs a solid foundation, every living room (or any room for that matter) needs a well-thought-through layout in order to become that perfect vision. Even the best, most creative choice of colour scheme, furniture and decor will seem lacking if the layout of the room doesn’t work.

Let’s have a look together at the 7 steps you can take to create that unique setting that suits your lifestyle.

1. Analyse the available space for your new living room layout

To design a truly compatible layout, you need to have a closer look at your space first. It’s especially important when we’re talking about living rooms, as the traffic very often comes from different directions. Have a closer look at: where do you enter the room? Do you have more than one set of doors? Which parts of the room need to be fully accessible (due to windows, a fireplace etc.)?
Draw out the pathways on your plan and let them organically divide your room into areas where you can arrange some furniture.

2. Decide on the purpose

With every project it’s good to set an overall intention. Decide what your focus is going to be. How do you want to be using your living room space? Is it mostly for entertaining friends? Or maybe spending time with your family? Do you prefer to watch movies or play board games? Let your purpose and your lifestyle inform the layout that will work for you and your family.

3. Choose a focal point

Living rooms with a focal point are ever so alluring, because whoever enters those rooms knows exactly what to do and where to focus their attention. A focal point could be a fireplace, a view or a piece of art.
Make sure you let your visitors know that this is where you want them to look first (great strategy for making those places that you don’t want them to notice become magically less visible). Use colour and lighting to showcase your focal point.

Note on the focal point: a lot of people use TV as a focal point. Although that could work in some cases, it’s not very decorative and I’d advise picking a different focal point with the option of turning towards the TV when you want to. This picture shows it brilliantly. TV is easily accessible and visible, yet it doesn’t steal the attention.


4. Accommodate kids

If you have little ones, then don’t forget to accommodate their needs in your living room layout. Firstly, make sure you’ve got some space on which they can play (soft rug would be a plus). And secondly, prepare some easy storage where toys can be put away quickly at the end of the day. Big closed-off drawers at the floor level will be easy to access by kids and will hide away toys when your friends come over for drinks in the evening.

5. Plan for meaningful conversations

Is your living room a place of constant conversation over a coffee table? In that case you need seating space all around. Make sure it’s close enough to each other so that you don’t have to shout and consider turning the sofa/armchairs/ottomans around the coffee table, so that you can all face each other. This solution doubles as a place to play board games with your family.


6. Pick your style: formal or informal

When it comes to living room layout there is a simple decision you need to make, which will dictate your next layout choices. Do you want it to have a more formal, or rather informal look?
If more formal style is your choice, then consider planning a symmetrical layout: double the same lamps and seats on both sides.
If what you’re going for is a less formal feel, then don’t worry about symmetry and the space will naturally create a more casual vibe.


7. Avoid this biggest layout mistake

The biggest mistake that you can make when designing your living room’s layout is putting your furniture around the edges of the room. The middle space then seems empty and like it’s lacking purpose. Don’t be afraid to experiment and use the back of your couch as a divider of the space (like here, the end of the sofa divides the living room from a pathway where people often walk through).


But whatever you do about your living room layout, remember to adjust the space according to your lifestyle, instead of following popular trends. Focus on what works for you and you’ll be able to create that dream living room you can see in your mind.

Now, I’d love to hear your living room stories. Leave a comment and tell me: which of those 7 steps would make the biggest difference for you? Let’s talk about what you need.

And if you found this article helpful, help me spread the word and share this with your friends by clicking one of the social media buttons below. (You gain good karma and my true appreciation! :) )

I wish you all the best of luck with your living room layout and can’t wait to see your stories in the comments,

Kat xx - signature 150px

11 Responses to 7 steps for creating a functional living room layout

    • As they say, when you realise something, that’s already half the success. Now, ask yourself: where do you want the attention to go the most? I’m sure you have a favourite!

  1. My furniture is around the circumference of my great room but the two Wassily chairs are in the open creating a path to the kitchen. My focal point is the fireplace and tv.

  2. Any suggestions for a L shaped living/ dining room? I feel like the couch has to go along the long back wall that blends into the dining room.

    • I’d use the shorter side of the L for the dining room too, but with the couch it depends how wide your living room part is and where are the windows too. It could for example go against the end of your “L” or even in the middle, facing that end, but only if there is enough room to walk around on both sides. Go for comfort above all – think about how YOU use that space. Hope it helps xx

  3. We are buying sofas for our living room- the door is in one corner with a long wall (c3.5m) to the left (door is in this wall) and a shorter wall to the right as you enter. Opposite the long wall we have a fireplace flanked by two windows. Opposite the shorter wall we have a curved bay window. Does it work to put a long (maybe 4seater) sofa on the long wall, a two seater partially in the bay with a TV on the shorter wall and armchairs under with small windows flanking the fireplace?

  4. We actually had 2 reception rooms that we have broken down and made into 1 big living room. Now we have 2 chimney breasts and a large living space and are short on ideas of how to use this as a living area with sofas and a tv

    • Nayana, how did you get around this in the end? We have exactly the same issue with two fire places / chimney breasts. No built in cupboards but hubbies large tv sits in the gap between the two – making a tv focal point opposite the entrance to the room & fireplace focal point either side! (Bay window on one wall also – classic Victorian terrace)

  5. My living room is long and narrow (roughly 22 x 12.5) with 4 major doorways and 2 large windows. There is no fireplace and the view out the windows is uninspiring (an electric transformer), so I guess the TV is our focal point. This room is a spaghetti bowl with all the different walking pathways thru it. How can I arrange furniture to allow talking/visiting with family and friends, TV watching, a Christmas tree and celebration and the occasional sofa nap? I am at wits end!

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