Room Arrangement Tips For Beginners

Lauren NowackiOctober 03, 2019

An empty room is like a blank page – full of possibility and just waiting for you to fill it up. And just like staring at a blank page, staring at an empty room can be both exciting and daunting. Starting a new project is often the hardest part. But, if you’re reading this article, congratulations! You’ve started. Now let’s get that room arranged.

Whether you’re just moving in or looking to rearrange your current living space, these tips will help you successfully fill your empty room in a way that’s more organized and intentional.

How To Arrange Your Room: Basic Guidelines

The way you arrange a room will depend on the type of room, its size and how you’re going to use it. But no matter what room you’re arranging, there are a few basic guidelines to follow.

Leave Room To Move

A room has no use if you can’t get into it or move around it. Leave at least 3 feet of space for major traffic areas, such as the space in front of entranceways, between furniture pieces and between the furniture and walls.

Provide Accessibility

When arranging your room, you’ll want to make sure your furniture isn’t cutting off access to energy sources, storage and high traffic areas. If some cabinets or doors swing open into the room, make sure you provide enough space to be able to open them and walk comfortably around the area with the doors open. Pay attention to the location of electrical outlets since you’ll need to place lighting, entertainment centers and reading areas near them. There’s nothing worse than visible electrical cords running through a room, which ruins a design aesthetic and creates a trip hazard.

When placing side tables and coffee tables, remember their purpose. Most of the time it’s to set something down to grab later on, like a glass of water, plate of food, remote control or book. For convenience sake, you’ll want them to be within an arm’s reach, about 12 to 18 inches from your seat at most.

Consider Guests

At some point, you’ll most likely have visitors in your home, so make sure your room is arranged in a way that’s inviting, inclusive and comfortable for your guests. That means providing extra seating, positioning furniture to include everyone and having a place to set or store their belongings. We’ll provide examples of how to accommodate guests in each room later in this post.

Create Balance

Without balance, a room can feel uneven, unstable or just plain confusing. It can even go as far as making inhabitants feel uncomfortable, anxious or dizzy. Not only that, but a room’s imbalance can make it appear messy and poorly designed. Creating balance in a room is reliant on the way you arrange the room. Use pieces that vary in depth, width and height to create a balance that allows pieces to stand out. That way, your room won’t be full of heavy furniture or bulky pieces.

Choose A Focal Point

The focal point should be one of the first things people notice when they walk into the room because everything else is arranged to draw the eye to it. The focal point could be anything you want to highlight in the room, including a fireplace, architectural piece, window with a view, art piece or even your TV.

Arrange Your Room In Six Steps

Take your room arrangement one step at a time and in the right order to save time, money and your sanity.

Step 1: Figure Out The Room’s Purpose

The first step in arranging a room is answering the question: What will you use the room for? This one is easy, but it’s often overlooked. Some rooms are easier than others. For example, the kitchen will be used for meal preparation and dishwashing. But what about the dining room? Sure, it will be used for dining – that’s right in the name. But will it also be used for hosting dinner parties, holiday feasts, game nights and other events? What about the living room? Will it be used mostly for watching TV or will it be a room made for lively conversations and debates?

Choosing the room’s purpose will help you figure out what type of furniture you need to put in the room and how much space you need. It’ll also help you choose the focal point. For example, if the purpose of the room is to watch TV, the television may be the focal point. If you’re going to use the room as a place for dialogue, you may choose a focal point that’s a conversation starter, like an art piece or unique architectural feature.

Step 2: Take Measurements

Knowing how much space you’re working with will tell you what you can and can’t fit in the room. Before planning what furniture will go where, take the following measurements:

·     Room dimensions (length and width)

·     Room features, like windows and fireplaces

·     How far any doors swing out

·     Your furniture

·     Doorways (to make sure each furniture piece will fit through)

Step 3: Take Inventory

Make a list of all the furniture and decorative items you have that will be going in that room. List their measurements, too. Don’t buy any new pieces yet – you’ll want to know what exactly you need and what size. It’d be a shame to purchase something you love and not have a place for it.

Step 4: Sketch The Layout

Before you move everything in, have a plan in place. By sketching the room’s layout, you’ll be able to give everything a place, determine if it all fits and decide if you need to get rid of items or add more in. The sketch will help you visualize the basic layout, too, and you’ll be able to decide if you like it or need to go back to the drawing board, literally. This can save you time and frustration by keeping you from moving everything in only to realize you hate the arrangement or don’t have room for everything.

To get the best visual representation of spacing, use grid paper. Make each block 1 foot. For example, if the room is 14 feet by 20 feet, the room outline you draw should be 14 squares on two sides and 20 squares on the other two sides. If you want 3 feet of space between the wall and sofa, mark a perimeter that is 3 squares wide. And if the sofa is 8 feet by 3 feet, draw it 8 squares long and 3 squares wide, wherever you wish to put the couch. Do this with all the furniture you wish to place in the room and with the space you wish to put between pieces.

Here’s an example using the measurements above with additional furniture added in:

Step 5: Add Or Remove Pieces

If some of your items don’t fit in the room, you’ll need to figure out what to remove from the room. This may cause you to have to move other furniture around to achieve the right balance and could result in a few layout drafts before you get it right. If you have empty spaces, consider the room’s purpose, take a look at the measurements, figure out what can go there and then go furniture shopping.

Step 6: Move It All In

With your plan in place and the arrangement blueprint to your liking, you’ll be ready to move everything into the room. Before you bring it all in, take some steps to protect the floors, doorways and yourself:

·     Use furniture sliders under the legs of sofas and chairs to keep the floors from getting scratched or damaged.

·     Protect bulky furniture, glass pieces or items with fragile edges by wrapping them in moving blankets.

·     Remove drawers or tape them shut so they don’t fall out during the move.

·     Remove the molding on your doorway to provide a little more space and prevent potential damage.

·     Use lifting straps and dollies and consider wearing a harness when lifting heavy items.

When moving each piece into your home, start with the bottom layer: the area rug. You’ll want to put that in first so you can move it around with no obstruction until you get the perfect position. Next, move in the biggest pieces of furniture. It’ll be a lot easier to move those around without smaller pieces getting in the way. After moving in your large pieces of furniture, check the position and measurements on your blueprint to make sure you’re staying the course. You’ll also want to take a step back and examine the arrangement to make sure it’s to your liking. You’ll want to do this throughout the arranging so you can make adjustments along the way. Walk around the room to ensure there’s enough space to move around and that nothing is blocking the flow of traffic. Once the main pieces are in the correct place, you can now move in your smaller items. Continue taking a step back to look at the room as it comes together and make modifications as you go until everything is moved in and positioned to your liking.

Living Room Arrangement Tips

The living room is usually the largest room in the house. Generally, it’s used as the gathering place for relaxing and socializing. People typically use this room to watch TV, read, spend time with family or entertain. Depending on what you use your living room for, the main pieces of furniture for this type of room are:

·     Area rugs

·     Couches and Chairs

·     Coffee tables

·     End tables

·     Entertainment centers

In a living room, make sure enough seating is provided so guests have a place to sit. You want enough furniture to accommodate a few guests, but not so much that it feels awkward, overwhelming or bare when you’re sitting in the room by yourself. When positioning the seating, make sure it feels inclusive. Keep the pieces close enough so no one has to shout during a conversation. If the room is especially spacious, consider creating more than one conversation area.

When using an area rug with your furniture, choose the size based on how the furniture will rest on it. You either want your furniture to rest fully on the rug or not at all. If not at all (with the exception of the coffee table), you’ll want to position it so there’s 12 to 18 inches of exposed floor along its perimeter.

When decorating with a coffee table, remember balance and accessibility are key. To achieve the right balance, coffee tables should be no less than half and no more than two-thirds the size of the sofa. They should also be within 4 inches of the height of the sofa’s seating cushions.

Bedroom Arrangement Tips

Most bedrooms will consist of a bed, dresser and a nightstand or two. You’ll want to start with finding the best place for your bed first since that’s the most important piece of furniture for the room’s main purpose. While it’s a matter of preference, here are a few tips for positioning your bed:

·     Place the bed opposite the door with the foot of the bed closer to the door than the head of the bed.

·     Position the bed so you can easily walk around it and get in and out from both sides.

·     Avoid cold, uncomfortable drafts by keeping your bed away from windows in the winter.

·     Position your bed with enough room to open bedroom and closet doors.

With the bed in place, you’ll know where to put the nightstands as they typically go on the side of the bed to have an accessible place for alarm clocks, cell phones and bedside lighting. If you watch TV in bed, place the television and whatever it rests on across from the bed. Place tall dressers in the corner and wide dressers under a window or piece of art. If you have a small bedroom, consider putting the dresser in the closet or opt for under-the-bed storage.

In a guest bedroom, provide enough space to fit your guest’s luggage and a piece of furniture or closet space to store their belongings if they’re staying a while. If you need to room to be functional when guests aren’t staying over, consider a daybed, pullout couch or murphy bed that folds into the wall or closet.

Dining Room Arrangement Tips

When it comes to your dining room table, keep these things in mind: The size of your room, the number of people you plan to serve and how you entertain. If your room is large, opt for a long, rectangular table. For smaller dining rooms, opt for a square or round table. Remember that many tables are built to expand to seat more people when needed. If your entertainment style is small (think intimate dinner parties, for example), opt for a small, round table with soft edges. If you host game nights, you may opt for a square table. If you entertain family and friends during the holidays, a long table that everyone can sit around may be the better option.

Position your table with enough space that people can walk between the wall and backs of the chairs, even when people are sitting in them. You don’t want guests squeezing by. If you have a hanging light fixture, center the table below it.

If space allows, place a sideboard table or buffet table along a wall near the dining room table. These pieces can hold extra plates, silverware and other supplies while also serving as a bar, dessert table or buffet.

Kitchen Arrangement Tips

If you aren’t doing a remodel, much of how you arrange your kitchen will already be laid out for you. That’s because certain appliances will need certain utility hookups. For example, your dishwasher will need to be near a water source, your stove may need to be hooked up to the gas line and your fridge may need to run on a dedicated circuit. If you can arrange your appliances or other furniture in the kitchen, keep the main purpose of the kitchen – preparing a meal – in mind. You’ll want to create a flow that allows you to move to the major appliances – kitchen, sink and stove – with ease. Depending on the layout of your kitchen, the placement of the appliances should create what’s called a work triangle. Or, for straight kitchen layouts, a work line, since all appliances are positioned against one wall. Once that’s established, place other furnishings in a way that won’t disrupt that triangle or line.

The Benefits Of A Well-Arranged Room

A well-arranged room is clutter-free, easier to navigate and set up for optimal functionality. When you arrange your room, you’re able to display your personal style in a cohesive, purposeful way. Because of this, you may feel more relaxed and comfortable in your home.

When selling your home , a well-arranged room can help you properly show off the room, make the space look bigger and provide a visually appealing experience that makes the home memorable. It will also give potential buyers an idea of how they can use the room and help them picture themselves using it, too.

Lauren Nowacki

Lauren is a Content Editor specializing in personal finance and the mortgage industry. Her writing focuses on reporting the best places to live in the U.S. based on certain interests and lifestyles. She has a B.A. in Communications from Alma College and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.