How to arrange furniture with a bay window

Updated July 19, 2017

Bay windows add depth and extra light into any room of the home, but can be a challenging design element for the novice. Some classic design tips for bay windows without a ledge or sill can help. Several ideas can be utilised even if a sill is present. Use what you currently own, then add pieces as needed.

Pull together furnishings you already own. Auxiliary pieces and accessories can be purchased if necessary. Gather small side chairs, upholstered club chairs, an ottoman, small side tables and a cocktail table. If the space is large enough, a small game table and chairs can be used.

Form groupings of furnishings depending on what you have on hand. Place two side or arm chairs in the bay with a side table in between. One or two upholstered club chairs with high or low backs can be used in the same way. Use one large upholstered chair with an ottoman, along with a side table if the bay isn't too large. Furnishings should fill the bay, but not over- or underwhelm it. An upholstered chaise longue with two arms can be a lovely addition. Place a cocktail table in front of it. Colourful throw pillows add zest and extra comfort to any seating arrangement.

Fit curved sectional seating neatly into the bay. A round-back sofa will also do the trick. Place a cocktail table in front, or side tables on each end.

Choose a round or oblong game style table with four chairs, if space is available. The entire grouping's length should be shorter than the length of the bay, side to side. Set the table far enough away from the wall to be able pull the chair out on that side. If there isn't enough room to keep all four chairs around the table, move the table into the bay, place three chairs around the table and set the fourth chair aside in another part of the house. In this case, a game table on casters is advisable for convenience.

Build in banquette seating with cushions. Place a round or oblong dining or game table in front of it. If space is tight, add a cocktail table instead. Make sure the seat height coordinates with the height of the table. For most people, a comfortable seat height is 17 inches. Custom built-ins can accommodate any seat height for the taller or shorter person.

Add lighting to the area. Place table or standing lamps within range of the seated occupants. Standing lamps throw the best light for reading when placed behind and to the side of the chair. Track, can or pendant lighting can be installed in the ceiling above.

Things You'll Need

  • Furnishings as required
  • Side chairs
  • Curved sofa
  • Sectional
  • Cocktail table
  • Side tables
  • Club chairs
  • Ottoman
  • Game or dining table set
  • Throw pillows
  • Lighting
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About the Author

LN Shapely is a published columnist, musician and broadcast commentator. Her work has appeared in regional and national magazines, newspapers and on the Web. She holds a degree in architectural and interior design from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.