Whether you’re living in your very first apartment, or moving into an actual house (whoa), deciding on the layout of your furniture is exhausting. But arranging a room right the first time can prevent you from buying stuff you don’t need, not mention enable you to keep the place tidy.
So follow these rules for staging a room like a pro.
Start with constraints
There will be some limitations for the layout of your room, so begin there to avoid frustrating roadblocks later. For example, where is the cable jack or electrical outlet in your living room? Better place the entertainment stand there. Is there only one wall in the bedroom long enough to accommodate your king-size? Situate the headboard along it. Do you lack a dining room? Experiment with whether your table will fit in the kitchen.
Take note of the placement of windows, and the physical dimensions of the room and arrange bigger pieces at the start. Then work around them. Although these constraints may seem annoying, at least they give you a starting point to work with.
Sofas and chairs rarely belong against walls. Float seating nearer the center of the room, leaving space to walk behind or between the furniture. Try to situate furniture in the living room so the seating forms a full circle to bring a sense of cohesion to the space.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unrealistically picturing you hosting parties more often than you veg out in front of the TV. But keep in mind the sofa can still face the TV for lazy Sundays, while surrounding seating can wait in a nearby circle for Friday night parties.
Lower the art
Although this is more common with men, new decorators tend to hang artwork too high. The center of a painting, photograph, or other wall hanging should be at about eye level of the average height person, so about 70-75 inches.
Hanging art lower will maintain the focal point of the room at eye level, and make a space feel more cohesive, not to mention make your ceilings seem higher.
Anchor rooms with a rug
In bigger rooms, it can be tempting to fill the space to the brim with furniture and knick knacks. Resist the urge! You’ll end up with a space that’s cluttered and less functional. Instead, pare it down to what you truly need, then anchor it with a colorful rug. I’m obsessed with FLOR tiles. The build-your-own rug tiles are washable, durable, and customizable for any space.
A rug will add visual interest, tie the room together, and cover any unsightly scratches or damage on your floor. The right rug is like a gorgeous waist-cinching belt — it will draw the eye to all the right places.
When deciding on the placement of a rug, remember, you don’t have to plop everything down in the middle of it. In the living room, anchor the front legs of a chair or sofa on the edge of the rug, while shifting the coffee table or ottoman off center. Situate the sofa about six inches away from the edge of the rug.
Catalogs and showrooms would have you believe you should live among artfully decorated nightstands and end tables. But in reality, why would I keep a stack of books topped with a hand-pinched clay pot on my nighstand? I wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t either.
Keep the following surfaces clear: coffee table, living room end tables, kitchen island, dining room table, entertainment/TV stand and nightstands. These surfaces are reserved for essentials — think a reading lamp, remote control, and clock.
I know, I know, the tray with the tiny vase of baby’s breath and stack of novels looked so pretty perched atop the ottoman in the West Elm catalog! But those staged rooms aren’t for living in. Constantly shifting and straightening the decorative trinkets on your working surfaces WILL eventually drive you crazy.
Instead, arrange books and prized artifacts on pretty shelves. They’ll be displayed safely out of harm’s way — after all, you wouldn’t want an errant spill ruining your perfectly worn copy of Slaughterhouse Five, would you?
Stow your stuff
On to the stuff you actually use — stow it away. Storage doesn’t have to be modular and plastic, but you’ll need a few places around the room where you can stuff your stuff. I love baskets, and use them under the TV for DVDs, on closet shelves for gloves and scarves, or inside cabinets for errant junk. I even have a tall cylindrical basket in the corner of my living room where I keep a throw blanket.
For smaller items, I like using document boxes or pretty containers with lids. Container Store stocks a plethora of options.
But remember, just because you can toss all your junk in a pretty box, doesn’t mean you should keep it on your dining room table. Purge your stuff, and purge it often.
What are your best tips for arranging a room? Any pitfalls to avoid? Leave them in the comments!