Space Planning 101: The Living Room

Oh the dilemma of arranging your living room. You want it to look like it was ripped from the pages of a magazine but you don’t want guests to feel like they can’t touch anything. You want it to not completely center around that rectangle on the wall but let’s get real – someone in your house probably doesn’t care and “JUST WANTS TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE TV”.

It’s fine. We have a few tricks up our sleeves. Let’s take a look at a few ways to meet all of the various demands and arrange your living room for both style and function. (Restrictions due to walls and windows may apply. We can help.)

Space Plan Ideas:

Formal Living Room Layout Option - Catherine French Design

Ok, so let’s say your style leans a bit more traditional. A formal living arrangement will place emphasis on symmetry. It also typically has a focal point grounding it, which in this case could either be a fireplace, or simply your TV console. This arrangement will benefit from two sofas running parallel to one another along the length of your room. On one end, your focal point – on the other, two arm chairs to complete the look.  Conversational Living Room Layout Option - Catherine French Design

Maybe you want to take the focus off of the television and have your living room encourage conversation among family and guests. A simple way of doing this is to angle a pair of arm chairs across from the sofa. This way, you have a sight line to the TV from your sofa, but carrying on conversation is still the main goal. Bonus tip: the arm chairs should be swivel chairs. Then, guests can turn to the TV, too. See? We like making everyone happy. Small Space Living Room Layout Option - Catherine French Design

Small spaces are tough but can be so fun to problem solve. One way of dealing with a small living room is to bring in an L-shaped sectional. This will maximize your seating space while providing a great flow. Position a single arm chair by the TV console (as in the Conversational Arrangement) and center the room with a small, round coffee table that can be accessed by everyone.

Family Gathering Living Room Layout Option - Catherine French Design

A family gathering arrangement lets the kids and the kids at heart run wild. Do away with the coffee table (even if only for game night) and leave the central space open with a nice area rug. Outline the activity with a couple of sofas, arm chairs, and plenty of side tables and you’ll have the perfect hang out spot.  Multi Use Living Room Layout Option - Catherine French Design

The great thing about this layout is that it makes its intentions clear – this living room will be a place for watching television, working, and sitting down for tea with a friend – and each of these activities gets their own space. Here’s how you do it:

1. Focus your TV watching in one area with a sofa and small coffee table.

2. Create a small library feel with a desk and executive chair tucked into the corner.

3. Position a little reading nook or conversational area off to the side with two chairs and a small table under a window.

Small Space Living Room Example - Catherine French Design

So, there you are. Just a few ways of working out the kinks in one of your home’s most lived-in rooms. Whether you want your space to feel formal or relaxed, following a few simple rules will get you going in the right direction. Got a living room conundrum? We’d love to help! Send us an email to and let’s see what layout works the best for you.

Featured and example images were styled by the Team at Catherine French Design, LLC and photographs were taken by J. Sinclair Photography

Catherine French Design is a team of interior design consultants based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have provided residential and commercial services in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, Wake Forest, and beyond.