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13 Living Room Layout Mistakes You Definitely Need To Avoid!

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON July 1, 2023

& FILED IN Home Decor & DIY, Living Room 

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When it comes to decorating and designing your living room, the layout is crucial. Poorly designed placement can make the room feel cramped, cluttered, and uninviting. Let’s look at the most common living room layout mistakes you should avoid – so you get a room that looks great and functions right for you, for years to come.

Yellow Sofa and cushions on a white background

Common Living Room Layout Mistakes

#1 – Lack of a Focal Point

Every living room needs a centre of attention that draws the eye and anchors the space. Without one, the room can feel disjointed and uninviting.

Your focal point could be anything really – but common things are a fireplace, a piece of artwork, or a fantastic view from a window.

TIP: A main focal point that doesn’t work well is your TV – unless this is the TV / cinema room and the main focus should be the tech…

Once you’ve identified your focal point, arrange your furniture around it to create a cohesive, inviting space.

Think about how each seat will view the focal point, and make sure that it’s front and centre in the room.

#2 – More Than One Focal Point

Something to be really careful with is having more than one focus in the room – especially when these are on opposite walls.

If you create too many things to ‘focus’ on, then you won’t be able to relax as easily because your eyes won’t have anything to naturally rest on.

A common mistake with this in mind is to have your TV on the opposite wall to the fireplace.

Ideally you would have the TV either above the fireplace or next to it – that way everything can be placed to focus on that area alone.

#3 – Not Creating Zones

Even in the smallest of living rooms it can be advantageous to create different areas for different needs. Especially as our living rooms tend to be used for multiple purposes.

Think about what you need your living room for – and create zones for each one of these.

For example – do you exercise at home? Maybe you need a little bit of clear space to do this easily. Or maybe you tend to lie down in the evening and watch TV – do you have a clear view of the TV from a lying down position?

One very important zone is a conversation zone – where you can easily sit and talk to people.

It’s no good having lots of seats if you all have to twist or move them when you want to chat to your friends…

TIP: Use rugs to define different areas of the room. For example, you could use a rug to create a seating area or a reading nook. This can help to break up a large room and make it feel more cosy.

#4 – Not Enough Seats

A family of four need 4 seats at a minimum in a living room – because at some point you will all want to be in the room together.

If you usually have people over to entertain – then think about how many you usually have at one time.

It doesn’t have to be full seating for each person – but you need the ability for everyone to have a seat that needs it.

Think about using a firm footstool or a bench etc… if you don’t want full sofas and armchairs for everyone.

#5 – Pushing Furniture Against Walls

Many people assume that pushing furniture against the walls will make the room feel more open, but this can actually have the opposite effect.

When furniture is pushed against the walls, it can make the room feel cold and uninviting as everything feels quite far away and not blended together well.

Instead, try floating your furniture in groups around the room to create more intimate, welcoming spaces – or just pull it away from the wall slightly to give the sense of more space and allow each item to breathe a little.

#6 – Ignoring Traffic Flow

When arranging your furniture, it’s essential to consider the flow of traffic through the room.

Avoid placing furniture in high-traffic areas, such as doorways or walkways, as this can make the room feel cramped and cluttered. Instead, leave plenty of space for people to move around freely.

Make sure there is easy access to everything in the room – including any storage (can doors open easily?), any entrances/exits (don’t block a route), and any other items that you need to get to.

Also think carefully about whether you need to walk past someone sitting somewhere regularly – as this can become frustrating for the person sitting down.

#7 – Creating a Confusing Layout

A confusing layout can make it difficult to navigate the room and can make the space feel disjointed.

For example – a chair on it’s own without anything anchoring it to the space. A chair on its own works well in front of a bookcase (for reading), or in front of a window (for relaxing and looking out) – but if it’s just placed in an empty space with no real need to be there, it will create confusion.

Avoid creating a layout that’s too complicated or that doesn’t make sense. Instead, aim for a simple, intuitive layout that’s easy to navigate.

You can do this by making sure each area in the room has a definite function (reading, relaxing, chatting, watching TV etc…).

#8 – Ignoring The Natural Light

Make sure any natural light can get into the room as easily as possible, as this will really transform the space.

Don’t layout furniture so it blocks the light – watch the path of light throughout the day as this can alter where things may or may not work.

#9 – Not Enough Artificial Light

Living rooms work well with layers of lighting, to create mood throughout the day and evening.

Use a mixture of lamps and make sure that any zones in your living room are lit independently if you will be possibly using them by themselves (for example, you may want a lamp by a reading chair, or a lamp to light up a dark corner).

TIP: Make sure the lamps don’t sit where the bright light will be annoying when sitting/lying down. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to move to get the light out of your eyes, or squint to see!

#10 – Choosing the Wrong Furniture Size

Choosing furniture that’s too big or too small for your space can throw off the entire layout.

Make sure to measure your space carefully and choose furniture that’s appropriately sized.

If you have an awkwardly shaped room, consider using modular furniture that can be arranged in different configurations. This can help you to make the most of the space and create a layout that works for you.

Yellow Sofa and cushions on a white background

#11 – Filling the Room with Too Much Furniture

Overcrowding your living room with too much furniture can make the space feel cluttered and overwhelming.

Instead, choose a few key pieces that are both functional and beautiful. Remember, less is often more when it comes to creating an inviting living room.

If you’re working with a small space, consider using furniture that’s multi-functional, such as a coffee table with hidden storage.

#12 – Not Considering Function

When you sit in a living room you tend to have things in your hands like a drink, a magazine etc…

Can each seat in the space reach a surface to put these things down easily?

If not – this can become increasingly annoying, and possibly lead to spilling a few drinks on the carpet etc…

Think about using a tray on an ottoman/footstool, having a nest of tables that can be pulled out when needed, or using a table that slots into the sofa neatly.

#13 – Forgetting About storage

In addition to arranging your furniture for comfort and style, it’s also important to consider storage.

Make sure you have plenty of storage options, such as bookshelves, cabinets, and ottomans with hidden storage compartments (always handy!).

This will help keep your living room clutter-free and organised.

The Main Thing To Remember When Placing Items In Your Living Room

If I can leave you with one tip that will make the most difference to your living room layout, its this:

Make sure every seat in the room works for it’s intended use.

By that I mean that everyone sitting in the space should have the following:

  • A good view of the main focal point.
  • The ability to see the TV if needed. Ideally in a way that won’t be interrupted by others walking around the room.
  • Easy ways to have a conversation with at least one other person sitting in the room.
  • A place to put a drink / magazine / their feet etc…

Always check things from every angle as well. That way you won’t be compromised in any part of the space – for example, you don’t want to have to look at the back of a sofa in a long room – you would want to put a console table against it and have something nicer to view…

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different layouts until you find one that works for you.

It may take a bit of trial and error, but with a bit of patience and creativity, you can create a living room that is both functional and stylish.

Yellow Sofa and cushions on a white background and 13 living room layout mistakes written over

By avoiding these common living room layout mistakes, you can create a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Remember to keep the size and shape of your room in mind when selecting furniture, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different layouts until you find one that works for you.

With this article in mind, you can steer clear of making any mistakes that will make your living room less than great – and make sure you create a living room that’s both functional and stylish.

You’ll then have a really relaxing and welcoming space for you and your guests to enjoy for years to come.

Perfect!

This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on OrganiseMyHouse.com (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...