Furniture Placement

Often when visiting a friends house, walking past a neighbor’s, or glancing through a magazine, I see homes with poorly placed furniture. I try not to be critical but I always wonder why they don’t reorganize to utilize the space. A common issue I’ve noticed is furniture blocking doors, windows, entryways, stairs, etc.

A neighbor of mine has two couches, set on an angle so one blocks access to all but a foot of their sliding glass patio door. Yes, they can still get in and out through the patio door, but it’s a tight squeeze and looks unappealing. It’s also very unnecessary for a household of two (personal opinion).

Instead of squeezing in furniture that doesn’t fit, accommodate extra guests with small armchairs. For my neighbors’, a chair could fit easily on either side of the sliding glass doors. The chairs would only accommodate two guests as compared to the couch holding three people, but the increase in space and accessibility would be so worth it. Also consider the idea that even if they kept their current seating for six, what if seven people were present? Or eight? They’d still have a seating shortage. Make up for the shortage with comfortable ottomans (make sure they can handle being sat on), poufs, or even dining chairs. If you’re having a party, not everyone will be sitting at the same time anyway!

If the only reasonable spot to place your couch (you probably want it to face your fireplace or tv) is in a place that would block a door, window, stairway, entryway, etc. try to place it about 6 feet in front. The gap will allow you to walk behind it to access the space, and it will look less cluttered since it will not overlap. If you choose to place the couch in a diagonal across a corner, pull it out far enough to create a walking path behind it, and fill in the corner with a plant, floor lamp, etc. so the space doesn’t go to waste.

Another common issue is furniture or beds in front of windows. Windows are intended to open up a room by adding light and fresh air. They can’t do their job if they are being blocked.

When it comes to beds, it’s okay to put them in front of a window as long as the frame of the window is entirely above the bed, when all pillows are in place. If the bed blocks part of the window, it looks sloppy and inaccessible. Beds are one of the few pieces of furniture that can work in front of a window since it won’t be a problem to climb on top to let in some fresh air.

Dressers, small tables, and bookcases should also follow the rule of fitting entirely under the frame of the window, including any items placed on top. The difference in placing this kind of furniture in front of a window is that you can’t generally (safely and comfortably) climb on top to open the window. Make sure the depth of the furniture allows you easy access to the window. Even if you do not plan to open the window, the room flows best when it looks open and accessible.

If you have stairs, it’s nice to utilize the space along the side of the stairway. Furniture should not rise above the bottom of the framing on the stair tread. If the furniture overlaps you will be able to see the back of it when you are standing on the stairs.

Never block entryways. You should be able to enter or exit a room without squeezing around furniture. Make sure the furniture does not overlap the molding. If a room has a wide entryway, it is okay to place a decorative piece on either end of the threshold as long as by doing so the entryway does not become hard to maneuver (for example: a six foot wide entryway could handle a one foot wide decorative piece on each side, leaving a four foot wide walking path, which is more than adequate).

Overlapping with furniture always makes a home look sloppy, cluttered and inaccessible. If you already have too much furniture in a room, and don’t want to get rid of the piece, try repurposing it for a different room, or redoing it to make it fit properly.

Walk through each room of your home and see how easily you can maneuver around furniture and whether or not you can access your windows. You may be able to switch the placement of a tall and short piece of furniture to fit properly, or slide a piece farther out to get around it. It can be a lot of fun to reorganize a room and and you may just love the new set up!

Design For The Future

Why it’s important to design for the home you want, not the place you live:

When you live in an apartment (especially if you recently moved in), it can be hard to resist the urge to decorate it. As much as you want to make your place feel home-y, you need to be careful that your money and hard work won’t go to waste when you move. Here are a few things you want to think carefully about before buying:

1. Furniture- when buying furniture for a temporary home (even if temporary might be a couple years), do not buy too much. Even if you wish to buy a home with a huge living room, you don’t necessarily have the space for a big sectional right now, and cramming it in will make your current living space unappealing. If you currently have a large room, keep in mind that your dream home might have a smaller room, or just a different set up. Also be careful not to choose a color or style that goes specifically with your current place. If you stick to solid colors, simple patterns, and less decorative styles, it will be more likely to go with your next place.
2. Blinds- if at all possible, do not buy blinds for an apartment unless you are getting a great deal. Your next place will most likely have different sized windows, and you’ll end up having to buy new ones. Curtains are a better idea because you can use one size to fit a variety of different sized windows.
3. Artwork/Wall Art- find something you like that will go well with the style you have planned for your permanent home. Maybe your apartment happened to have blue walls when you moved in, and blue makes you think of the ocean. Unless you’ve actually wanted a nautical themed living room, do not buy a painting of a harbor to hang in the room. When you move into your permanent place you’ll end up giving away that painting.
4. Lighting- if your apartment does not have overhead lighting (the kitchen usually will though), you’ll need lamps. Do not invest a lot in floor lamps! Your permanent home may have overhead lighting or else you can have it installed. Find an affordable and simple-style lamp that can be used in any room.
5. Rugs- do not buy large area rugs. Your next place will probably need a different sized rug. You can make up for the lack of an area rug by purchasing two or more of the same print of smaller rugs. If your permanent home only needs one of these rugs (half of the area rug you would have had in your temporary place), you can use the other rug in a different spot, such as an entryway. Once again, pick a pattern and color that you’d like for your permanent home.
6. Large Organizers- if you need a closet tower, pick one that can be used out of the closet in case your permanent home has a well designed closet that doesn’t require it. You can also use a small bookcase, shelving unit or bins to keep your stuff organized, and use these in various places later in your permanent home. Metal shelves or baker’s racks can later be used for storage in the garage, basement or laundry room.