Whether you are redoing your living room or staging it to sell, there are various design basics to consider. Many of the activities that take place in this room involve sitting so a logical starting point is to decide on the main seating unit, the sofa. The style and size of the sofa are obvious considerations. If you want more flexibility in your choices for other furnishings, it is best to keep your sofa neutral. Keep to classic shapes such as simple squared off arms and basic cushions.

FOCAL POINT
While the sofa is the logical starting point for designing the living room, it is absolutely necessary to consider a focal point for the room. A focal point is a dominant fixture in the room that gives a reference point and helps orient the whole arrangement. You may have a natural one, such as a fire place, a bay window or sliding glass doors. Or you may need to create one –the sofa with a large piece of artwork above it, a wall unit, television or large artwork could be focal points if you do not have a dominant feature in the room.

To showcase the focal point, you need to group your other elements, such as sofas, chairs, lighting and accessories around it. Since the living room is used for conversation, it is important to group your seating to accommodate comfortable conversing. Don’t push your furniture against the walls. If you have a small living room, you may only be able to allow only a few inches between the backs of furniture pieces and the walls. In a larger room, you may be able to have seating areas in the middle of the room, leaving several feet between the walls and the furniture. In a large room, you may be able to create two separate conversation areas.

CONVERSATION AREA
Besides considering the sofa in a seating area, you may also have a loveseat, and/or a couple chairs. You will want the sofas and chairs to either face each other or be adjacent. They should be close enough so that you could have a comfortable conversation without raising your voice. You will also need a coffee table in the middle of the seating area. The bigger, the better, as it acts as an anchor for the room and leaves plenty of space for people to put down their drinks or display accessories. There should be enough space between the coffee table and the seating so that people could pass through. You may also need to have a side table between two chairs so that everyone would have access to a table to set their drinks down within arm’s length. The table height for side tables should be approximately the same height as the sofa/chair arms that are next to them. If that is not possible, lower is better.

BALANCE
Balance is also very important when arranging furniture. You should not have all the heavy furniture on one side of the room. For example, if you have a large wall unit on one wall, you should have another large piece of furniture on the other side of the room.

LIGHTING, ARTWORK AND ACCESSORIES
Besides the basic furniture, you will want to have lighting, artwork and accessories to warm up the space. For your lighting requirements, it is best to have a mix of overhead, ambient and task lighting. Use a mix of overhead lighting, table lamps, floor lamps, and scones. Artwork is important, however, it should not fill every wall space. It should be hung at eye level or lower and not be too far above the furniture. A large piece should be placed above the sofa approximately 2/3 the size of the sofa. Accessories add interest to a room. It is best that you have a few larger items, versus many small pieces. Also you can add throw pillows as great decorative accents to your sofas and chairs, but don’t use so many that you need to remove the pillows to sit down.

Area rugs can define the conversation area. The furniture should be sitting on top of the rug and ideally there should be approximately 10” to 20” of bare floor between the edges of the area rug and the walls of the room.

If you need additional assistance in designing your living space, do not hesitate to contact us.

Mary Billish
www.stagingworkswonders.com
630.991.7123