Living room layout ideas: How to arrange your space no matter the shape or size (2024)

Living room layouts can be very tricky. Your space should ideally balance plenty of comfortable seating with walkways to move around, it should be conducive to entertaining as well as a relaxed evening in front of the TV, and in an open-plan space, it needs to be arranged into zones.

All of the above can throw up some design dilemmas if a living room is particularly small, if it's long and narrow, or if it has awkward elements like bay windows or alcoves.

Here we look at living room layout ideas for rooms large and small, with design notes to help you execute the look in your own home.

Small living room

A living room can be so tiny as to totally dictate your furniture arrangement. There is only one feasible spot for the sofa here, but it is the scheme around it that has been so cleverly executed.

A slim coffee table allows plenty of room to walk around, the recesses either side of the fireplace have been used for a mix of storage and display (more on dealing with alcoves below), the sofa has been bookended with side tables, and plants will always breathe a bit of life into cramped rooms.

Design notes

  • Most pieces of furniture can double as storage – consider ottoman sofas, side tables with drawers and even upholstered stools and benches with hidden space inside.
  • In small spaces, consider using paint with a slight sheen on any woodwork, window and door frames to capture and reflect natural light.
  • If structural work is feasible, consider replacing doors with open archways.

A sociable setting

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Cosenza Sofa, Monza Coffee Table, Aldbury Armchair, Marino Armchair and Amalfi Sideboard, all Ercol

It is natural in a living room to face your furniture towards the TV, but for those who entertain in equal measure, you can create a more sociable layout by turning everything inwards.

Designate the centre of your space – it doesn't have to be the centre of your entire room, just a focal point around which you can comfortably fit your furniture – place a coffee table in the middle and arrange your sofa and armchairs around it.

A nice touch is to add an upholstered stool, they're often overlooked as a viable seating option, but are totally acceptable to accommodate large groups. And ensure there are side tables or surfaces within reach of every seat to perch a cup of coffee or a wine glass.

Design notes

  • Your focal point doesn't have to be a coffee table. Something upholstered can double up as a footrest in a pinch.
  • Use a rug to delineate your space and create a zone within which conversation takes place.
  • You don't have to abandon the television altogether. Mount it on the wall opposite your largest – or comfiest – sofa.

What to do with alcoves

Alcoves are a little awkward to use in a living room – in a bedroom they provide natural storage, in a kitchen they are great for holding breakfast bars – but there can sometimes be a bit of push and pull as to their purpose in a living room.

A lot of the time they become home to built in storage or simply a bit more floor space to manoeuvre around.

The most practical usage we've come across is a little WFH station, provided there are plug sockets nearby and enough space for a small desk or floating shelf. Bookcases are useful too, but consider a mix of cupboards and open shelving to balance display and storage.

Design notes

  • Use the full length of the wall right up to the ceiling, it won't look odd in a recess.
  • If you have two alcoves either side of a fireplace or an otherwise protruding wall, create a different purpose for each – matching shelves can sometimes look too formal.

How to tackle a bay window

Bay windows do tend to throw up the odd design dilemma because of their awkward shape. There are two common layout solutions that we often see: one is to ignore your bay window completely and pop a sofa in front of it, and the other is to bookend the bay window with two seating areas leaving the view open and the space unused. Both are a good start but can be improved upon.

If you choose to place a sofa in front of your window, take full advantage of the hidden space behind. You can usually fit a whole trunk or sideboard behind which will do away with living room clutter and act as a surface for decoration or task lighting. This is also a great spot to store a toy box for kids or pets.

If you would like your bay window to take centre stage, try positioning a single accent chair and side table just at its borders to keep your view intact but make better use of the space.

Design notes

  • Don't be afraid to put the back of a sofa against a bay window, and use the hidden space behind for storage.
  • Two accent chairs in a bay window create a really wonderful conversation spot.

Open-plan living room

An anathema to most city dwellers, there is such thing as a living room that is too big. It's great news for all that storage and your L-shaped sofa can be as large as you please, but there is a risk that your space will be cold and cavernous.

Instead of creating unnaturally large gaps between your furniture to fill the space, think more towards zoning.

The temptation when dividing up a space is to buy sideboards or even physical dividers, but in a living room, your sofa is the best option. Use large rugs to delineate the living area and place your furniture either directly or partially on top – arranging furniture around a rug rather than on top of it usually looks jarring. Or use paint to divide the space in a cost-effective way.

Design notes

  • Your sofa can be a room divider, and in fact it's usually the best and most affordable option.
  • Zoning is everything – use rugs and paint to aide in your efforts .

Long and narrow living room

A common living room layout in terraced houses, this can actually be one of the trickiest to navigate. A natural instinct may be to create two rows of seating on opposite walls, but this can often feel like you're sitting in a train carriage or a doctor's office.

It is usually a better idea to focus your seating in an L-shape, either with a corner sofa, or a standard two/three-seater with an accompanying armchair. Instead of your train carriage seating, use some storage like a sideboard on one side.

To make your narrow living room feel a little larger, try low-slung furniture – anything tall and bulky can feel imposing.

Design notes

  • Resist the urge to make two rows of seating on opposite walls.
  • As counterintuitive as it may seem, a generous L-shaped sofa is sometimes the best option in narrow spaces.

Wide living rooms

Whether your living room is long or wide is really just a matter of perspective, and at a stretch, dependent on where your windows sit.

It's quite common to put your sofa against the longest wall in a living room, but in this instance it is discouraged – the analogy of the train carriage is relevant here too – and instead, seating is faced inwards around a central point. This provides a modest walkway around your furniture, rather than through the centre of the room as shown in our narrow living rooms above.

Design notes

  • Don't automatically put a sofa against the longest wall in your living room, sometimes a different approach is necessary.
  • Try long-slung furniture here too – it's a fairly foolproof way to make a living room feel larger without having to compromise on the footprint of your pieces.

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Living room layout ideas: How to arrange your space no matter the shape or size (2024)


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