How to arrange furniture in small living & dining rooms

Updated November 21, 2016

Any small room can be difficult to decorate. Standard furniture arrangements can make a small room feel crowded and cramped. Living rooms and dining rooms pose a significant challenge, as they typically have large pieces of furniture, such as overstuffed sofas and big tables. But small living and dining rooms can still be stylish and comfortable, provided that the furniture is chosen and arranged in a way that maximises the available square footage.

Pare down the furnishings you have in a room. Large furniture ensembles may look impressive in a catalogue, but they clutter up a tiny area. Excess pieces can be sold to generate additional income, donated to a charity or stored for future use.

Measure the length and width of each room with a standard tape measure to determine the square footage. Sketch a rough draft of the floor plan on a sheet of graph paper, using the grids to establish the scale of the room. For example, a single square on the graph paper could represent a square foot of floor space.

Measure your furniture. Jot down the length and width of each piece. Use your graph-paper floor plan to try out different arrangements. Place the largest pieces first, and then arrange smaller items around them. Make the most of the given space by building upward, rather than outward. Wall units, shelves, bookcases and cabinets can maximise storage without taking up floor space.

Use smaller, more versatile pieces wherever possible. An ottoman with built-in storage can replace a standard coffee table, while a dining table can double as a desk during the daytime. Choose sleek, armless chairs and a small, circular table for the dining room. In the living room, consider using a loveseat instead of a sofa. The fewer pieces there are in the room, the more open the area becomes.

Make use of light, neutral colours whenever possible, as they will give the room a larger, brighter feel. Dark trims or splashes of contrasting colours make lovely accents and can be used to highlight favourite items or preferred pieces.

Place mirrors on the walls to create the illusion of more space. Keep other accessories to scale to avoid overwhelming the room. It is better to use a few eye-catching accessories than cabinets full of figurines, no matter how prized the collection is.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Graph paper
  • Scaled-down furniture
  • Mirrors
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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.