Tools to Help Plan a New Living Room Layout and Furniture Arrangement
We’re planning to get new furniture in our living room this year and make this a more cozy and usable space. But figuring out the right mix of all new furniture requires some planning and creative thinking and so we thought we’d share the tools that are helping us work out what kind of furniture we need, how many pieces, and what size as we determine a new room layout.
We bought our existing couches over 10 years ago and they are literally starting to shed and break down. The cushions don't stay in place anymore and it's time to get rid of these.
Shortly after moving in, we added some media cabinets and shelves to transition the focal point of the room to the fireplace wall. The old owners had their media furniture (and home audio wiring) anchored on the wall opposite the windows, so we are hiding that with our big couch and I wanted to be able to see outside more than in so we shifted things as much as possible using our existing furniture.
As we’re settling in, and our home style is evolving, I’m excited to think about this room as a clean slate, but it’s kind of a daunting task, so I want to get it right. I want to start moving away from the farmhouse feel and do something a little more modern traditional to fit the bones of this house, but bring us into the current day.
How to Plan a Room Layout and Furniture Arrangement
Here’s a quick roundup of how we're planning the space with tips you can use for furnishing your own room.
Prioritize What You Want in the Room
First and foremost, we want to have more seating to allow more people to sit down and chat. We host a lot of family often and the current arrangement only really lets 4-5 people comfortably sit. I'd like to double that.
We want the fire place to continue to be a focal point. I eventually want to convert this to a stone look, but in the meantime if we’re buying furniture, I want to baby step our way to keeping the focus there.
We don’t do a lot of group TV watching in this room but do want a TV here. It’s usually just on in the morning when the kids are done getting ready for school. Or if the house is miraculously empty and I get to catch up on some Netflix binges while doing laundry or something. Doesn’t need to be the focus though, just visible.
Keep as much of the view out the windows as possible and make sure there is seating that does face outside.
Measure and Draw Out the Room
This is where I always start with any room layout... with old school paper and pencil! I'm a visual learner so I need to see it. Using a tape measure, literally measure out the walls and any miscellaneous room components like windows, doors, fireplaces, etc.
Once you have the measurements, draw the room to scale with a ruler. Pending the size of your room and paper, find the scale that works for you, but I find a centimeter per foot is usually is a good place to start to get on a standard sheet of 8.5x11 paper. Graph paper would work great too. Once you're happy with the drawing, go over it with a sharpie.
Create Scaled Paper Furniture Pieces
Here's where it gets fun. As I browsed for possible furniture or inspiration online, then measured and cut out little pieces of paper that represented the footprint of the furniture that I liked in the same scale of the room drawing. At one point I was thinking we'd try a sectional in here, but after playing around with a couple layouts and sizes, doing this helped me decide the sectional wasn't going to be right for the traffic flow of the space. And it didn't help me accomplish as many of my priorities. I decided for best flow and arrangement, we'd go with two couches, two chairs, a new large coffee table and maybe a couple floating stools for a little extra sit space.
Pro tip: label your furniture pieces the name of the store and the product name so you don't forget what you're looking at if you're doing a lot of browsing!
Take Advantage of Online Room Planner Tools
I've used this paper method a lot over the years - rearranging existing spaces, and even figuring out the initial room plans before we moved in so the movers would put the furniture down in the right place the first time. But while it's quick and simple and a good way to get started, eventually I like to convert my plans to electronic ones. I've done this many ways, sometimes just using Photoshop or Publisher, but while searching for furniture I stumbled on the West Elm/Pottery Barn Design Crew free design services and they had a free online Room Planner tool... and it was a game changer. After plugging in room measurements, you can search their inventory and see their products in your space - mixing and matching brands even. And play with colors and fabric options too! It generates a layout along with a shopping list which is helpful to take in store.
My first layout with Pottery Barn pieces:
My layout with West Elm pieces:
Go Sit On Some Furniture and Talk to the Experts!
While I generally start my shopping online, for an entire new living room I wanted to make sure we were going to like what we chose for at least another 10 years so I wanted to be able to sit on it... literally. Abbey and I hit every local furniture store in the metro and sat on anything that looked like what I found online. When I visited West Elm, with my layout and shopping list, I changed out the couches on the plan with some that I was able to sit on and liked.
I talked with a designer there who I've been working with over email to finalize color choices. While I wanted light and neutral, I also want them to hold up to traffic and life with kids and spills. She liked the couch color I picked but suggested another color chair that was a little darker.
I've since pulled in some other little tables and thought a rug would help anchor this space a bit more too. I'm in the final stages of deciding what I want for sure from West Elm and what I might try to find elsewhere, but am planning to make decisions soon! Not sure how many weeks everything will take to get in, but once it's all in, of course we'll let you know!
Do you have your own favorite ways to plan out a room layout? Would love to hear from you if so!