How to arrange furniture in a rectangular living room

Updated July 19, 2017

Rectangular rooms can present a design challenge. They can look expansive and uninviting because of their length, but can also look cramped because of their width. Arranging furniture within rectangular rooms can make or break the functionality and visual appeal of the space. Drawing a floor plan, dividing up the living space, creating a focal point, placing large furniture against the longest walls, and creating traffic lanes can turn your rectangular room into a welcoming and comfortable living area.

Draw a floor plan of the room and arrange the furniture on paper before moving anything. It is most helpful if you are able to get accurate measurements to make sure everything will fit. Include windows, doors, heaters and outlets in your floor plan to avoid positioning problems.

Break up your rectangular space into two sections: a larger space that is about three-fourths of the room, and a smaller space that is about one-fourth of the room. Some people choose to use a room divider, wall partition or bookcase to designate two separate uses for the space, such as an area for entertaining and an office space. Jill Denton, a real estate agent who specialises in interior redesigns and staging, suggests using a separate area for secondary seating, a table and chairs, a game area or a reading nook.

Create a focal point in the room by placing a dramatic piece of art above a large piece of furniture, or by arranging furniture around a fireplace or window. This creates a visually inviting space and gives function to the room.

Place large furniture against the longest wall so that it doesn't create a visual barrier or cut of traffic flow. Big items such as couches, bookshelves, and credenzas can look out-of-place if they are not placed against a wall. By putting this furniture against the longest two walls of the room, you are using the space more effectively.

Create traffic lines by visualising where people will walk and arranging furniture around these pathways. Having to walk around a poorly placed piece of furniture day after day can be a nuisance, so consider the natural flow of traffic in your room when you are arranging.


The more detail you are able to add to your floor plan, the less work you will have for yourself when you are arranging furniture.

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About the Author

Julia Klaus has been a writer and copy editor for three years. She has edited books including "Top Dollar Plumber" by Sid Southerland and is contributer to eHow. Klaus has experience writing web copy and training manuals and has a Bachelor of Arts in English as well as a Master of Arts in teaching from the University of Portland.