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The 5 Go-To/No-Fail Living Room Layout Configuration Options To Make The Most Out Of Your Space

Have you ever had a tough time trying to figure out the right seating layout for your living room? ME TOO. Remember this post? You just want it to make sense AND look good. Now, every living room is basically its own little snowflake, unique and likely stocked with architectural features that make you question if anyone involved in the home building process thinks about furniture placement. Not trying to throw shade buuuuttttt… So today we have our 5 go-to seating furniture configurations to hopefully be the Advil for your layout headache. Now since living rooms aren’t all shaped the same, you may need to slightly modify these to make them work best for your space. But don’t worry because we are going to talk through them all.

As I was compiling these layouts based on rooms we have actually designed, this one was one of the most popular. It offers lots of seating options, is perfect for a living room with one main focal point (yes, like a fireplace or where you want to put your tv), and really fills out a room but not in a super crowded way (unless you have a small living room).


  • If you have a smaller living room, you can take away one, two, or all three of the accent chairs (maybe add a small ottoman or two for more seats).
  • If it looks too crowded or is unnecessary, you don’t need to have a side table for each seat and/or each side of the sofa.
  • The “lone chair” can be placed diagonally as shown in the graphic or placed directly across from the two chairs.


  • Make sure that all of your accent chairs don’t match. We almost always have the two that are side-by-side match but the third, on the other side, be different.
  • Mix up materials in both fabrics and table finishes.
  • Mix up table shapes. It’s going to look “one-note” if say all of your tables are circles.

Let’s now look at some examples:

photo by david tsay for styled: secrets for arranging rooms, from tabletops to bookshelves

This living room belongs to the founder of Schoolhouse Electric, Brian Faherty, and was styled for Em’s first book. Notice how Brian chose a traditional leather chesterfield sofa, with two midcentury modern style matching chairs in a classic patterned fabric, then to mix up the seating even more he chose a beautiful MCM lounge chair and ottoman. None of the seating matches but they all work together and are perfectly complemented by that simple industrial coffee table. Notice also how he only has one side table. I think it would have felt crowded otherwise. So then with a few other furniture pieces along the perimeter, this layout is comfortable, visually interesting, and perfectly fills in the space.

Here was Brady’s first iteration of his living room layout. Same idea as Brian’s but flipped. Brady also added a side table between the set of leather chairs.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: brady’s living room reveal

Here you now can see that the layout is focused around his awesome fireplace:) Also instead of a larger lounge chair, he choose a fun-shaped accent chair in a lighter toned leather without any kind of ottoman or table. Since his living room was smaller he didn’t need it for the room to feel full.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: ginny’s living room reveal

EHD alum, Ginny, also decided this was the best layout for maximum seating and focusing on her fireplace.

Ginny also had to deal with the fact that her front door opened into her living room. Because of that, the two matching chairs are slightly further from the sofa (not touching the rug), giving the illusion of a separate seating area and entry. A very slight modification that makes a big difference for the flow of the room.

Now for Option Two! So maybe you don’t love that first layout or maybe you have more than one focal point. This is a great option for you then. Having two chairs directly across from your sofa is a great way to prioritize conversation while still making sure your TV can also be a priority.


  • Chairs can be split up to be across from each other (so a simpler version of Option One)
  • You can decrease your number of side tables.
  • You can replace the chairs with a bench (but that might not be as comfortable to sit on:))
  • The sofa could be a sectional as seen in Em’s old living room.


  • If you want to be able to see what is behind the chairs, make sure they have a low profile. You don’t want to block the TV if no one is sitting in them!
photo by tessa neustadt | from: mel’s living room reveal

Another EHD Design Team Alum, Mel, perfectly achieved this layout in her old living room. Her view was clearly a priority for her so she chose to have her sofa facing that direction so she could enjoy it. Then to have her living room still feel cozy yet airy, she placed those two beautiful light leather chairs directly across for when she had a few guests over. Notice how the wall with the credenza is another focal point and this layout also invites it in.

When Sara helped her parents refresh their living room this was also the perfect layout given the two points of entry and the fireplace. It feels open yet cozy. They also didn’t have to worry about a tv for this space so using the taller wingback chairs was an awesome design choice that gave the room more visual levels.

While this isn’t a pass-through room, this is a great layout if you have one. Actually, this is a great example!

If you have a large living room with one designated focal point, this could be a great option for you. It gives you a ton of seating and is perfect for facilitating conversations. I think we could all use more of that!


  • If you don’t have space for the accent chairs get’em outta there!
  • Add or take away side tables as needed.


  • Unless you have a strong vision and want to break the rules, pick matching sofas and then matching accent chairs. If you are desperate to mix things up a little but don’t know where to start, choose the same sofa (or chair) and just pick a different color in the same fabric. Like two of the same velvet sofa in two different colors.
photo by tessa neustadt | from: griffith park living room reveal

This is best shown in the Griffith Park Living Room. The focal point is clearly the fireplace (ornate and traditional), the sofas (simple and modern) are matching as well as the chairs (modern and vintage). Can you just imagine all the fun game (and maybe wine) nights that have been held in this room?? Also, that organic coffee table is incredible and brings so much movement and contrasts the traditional style of the home perfectly.

design by annie segal and marieke ochtman of asom home | styled by pop up home | photo by corey gibbons | from: tour this house flip in the hills (by emily’s friend of asom home)

So these boucle beauts are more loveseat sized but you still get the idea. The difference with this layout is that the chairs are next to the fireplace and are on a diagonal. Looks very cool and fun.

You knew I wouldn’t leave you without talking about a sectional layout:) This is another Em Henderson go-to. It’s great for a large living room with a focal point like a fireplace. Let’s just jump right in:


  • Doesn’t matter which side the chaise is on.
  • Both chairs can be placed at a diagonal.
  • Take away a chair if you don’t have the space.
  • Add or take away side tables as needed.


  • Personally, I think it’s more visually interesting for the chairs to be different but as you will see below matching look great too.

Ahhh. The stunning Glendale house. Em has always said she didn’t finally nail the layout and color palette of this room until this version (the one she styled to sell it). But the brown leather chair is spaced just far enough from the sectional’s chaise to not crowd it but isn’t so far that it feels all by itself. Then the opposite chair helps to bring in the other side of the room. Big fan.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house reveal: our light-filled neutral textural living room

At the mountain house, Em did more of the “pair of chairs” look across from the sectional but choose mix-matched chairs for a unique, eclectic look. Those organic side tables and coffee table also help to really fill out the space.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the ultimate family-friendly media room + wet bar

The media room from the Portland Project, has this layout but used matching accent chairs and they look great.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the ultimate family-friendly media room + wet bar

Also because they are close to the wall, it was the perfect opportunity to use high-back chairs. No need to worry about blocking any views:)

Last but not least we have “the small living room” layout. I kinda covered this in Option One but I wanted to give you some visual examples.


  • You can take away the chair or replace it with a small ottoman.
  • You can take away a side table.


Don’t be afraid of standard-sized furniture in a small space. Sometimes “small space” specific furniture can make a room look even smaller. Of course, be sure to measure to make sure the pieces will fit and not overcrowd. It’s a balance:)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: jess’ long awaited (small space) living room reveal

Here’s my old little baby living room. I didn’t choose the smallest size sofa offered and was able to fit two side tables and that fun little accent chair. To be honest, the chair wasn’t sat in very much because of its size BUT it added a ton of personality and was useful for the couple of “parties” I did throw.

Ryann’s living room is also on the smaller side but she was able to get that wonderful vintage wingback chair in there without it feeling crowded. Instead, it helps to define the living space from the dining area.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house reveal: how we designed our super kid-friendly family room

Emily’s mountain house family room is definitely a more “standard” size but this layout is still great! The key is to make sure the proportions of the furniture are correct. This sofa is big and deep, that incredible chair is larger with a good sized ottoman, and the coffee table is also a great size. Scale is always the hardest in any furniture layout design. You don’t want to overcrowd but you don’t want things to look bitsy. When it’s right is when it looks really well designed:)

Here’s one more because it’s pretty and I wanted to add it in! It feels really approachable and relatable. Hope it gives you even more confidence to go for it!

So there are our five living room seating layout configurations. There are definitely more but hopefully, these are universal enough to get you the living room you want.

Love you, mean it.

Oh and here they are all together if you want to have them pinned in one place:)

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Zeke Ruelas | From: Ginny’s Living Room Reveal


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38 thoughts on “The 5 Go-To/No-Fail Living Room Layout Configuration Options To Make The Most Out Of Your Space

  1. I have 4 open doorways, a closet door, a window, and a fireplace in my small house’s living room. It makes it rather hard to layout. Especially since the TV (only one in the house) is on one of the walls that’s got two of the doors, but not on the wall with the fireplace, door, and closet. Its difficult to say the least, Right now the sofa is perpendicular to the fireplace (in front of closet door which is next to fire place) and floating in front of the window. There is a chair next to it that is angled. There is another small chair floating on the other side of the fireplace, but it can’t be too far out since the bedroom doorway and entryway doorway both dumps right there. I’ve always wanted to do something different, but my current sofa is a bit too “meaty” to float off the wall in front of the back room doorway and face the fireplace.

    1. My living room is very similar to yours. Two walls have a huge arch so it’s semi-open and limits where I can put furniture. There’s a big bay windows, and a fireplace. Whatever I do furniture must float. But the room isn’t that big and the only wall is parallel to the entrance and a bay window so putting a sofa on it is super awkward. In bigger rooms there aren’t as many compromises because there will always be room to walk around the furniture. In smaller rooms something will always stay in the way. So furniture will either block a large window (I hate that) or will partially block the fireplace (I hate that too). Blocking the arched entryway to the dining room with a sofa or lots of smaller pieces doesn’t look nice and limits the flow and how easily one moves from room to room. But something has to be somewhat blocked or float.

  2. My small, narrow living room includes the front door, a small coat closet, open stairs to the second floor, a large window on the largest wall, another small window, two additional doorways (one extra large) to the kitchen and dining room, and built in bookcases surrounding a little bump-out that houses the woodstove. It’s also the only hang-out room in the house (no additional family room or study). I ended up going with option 5, but with a chaise sectional. And then an additional bench on the wall opposite the front door to create a little “entryway” section. It’s not perfect, and feels a bit crowded, but I think the layout works okay and it’s functional.

  3. Are loveseats a thing of the past? Instead of two chairs for option 1, does it look dated to use a love seat? And if so, do you do something that constraints the couch?

    1. I like a sofa and a love seat or a second sofa instead of chairs, as long as they aren’t a ‘set’, as in matchy-matchy.

    2. Not dated at all! And it gives a great opportunity to mismatch.
      Also loved the idea of two opposite love seats at option 3.

  4. My living room is the ONLY room in my house that is waaaay hard to design!
    A fireplace with a window each side on one wall.
    Two walls with double swing doors (from the entry into the loving room and from thd ivjng toom to the dining room)
    The last wall is the ONLY actual wall!
    My coffee table is a chunky rectangle and I’m on the search for a round or oval one, but the big enough ones cost too much. Onwards I go, trawling FB Marketplace, Buy Nothing and Gumtree…… 🏃‍♀️

    1. Rusty a lot of people have similar issues with layout. I know I do. It’s not that we don’t know good layouts it’s that it’s hard to achieve in a relatively small living room that has multiple architectural features (big windows, fireplaces arched doorways or french doors, etc. We love those and aren’t typically in favor of blocking them or covering up)
      With regards to your coffee table issue, I suggest nesting side tables, or multiple side tables that can be nested, moved and placed where you need them and when you them as opposed to blocking the middle of your room with a heavier piece. If you are open to it, it might give you more air and room to move.

      1. Thanx Lane.🙂
        Part of my issue is that I have a re-upholstered 1930 sofa snd 2 chairs, so any MCM-i spired coffee rable isn’t possible. I need something sort of industrial OR old, but with simple lines.
        My house is @ 100 yrs, with dark-stained (original) woodwork in the formal areas.🥴

        1. Hi Rusty,
          I have a reupholstered 1950s Gondola sofa in my 1915 farmhouse with wood floors. The living room plaster is done in a way that makes the room feel a bit fancy. I have very vintage Muslim eating tray as my coffee table. The metal helps…plus our Muslim friend was delighted to see it and felt more at home at our house when visiting.

  5. It’s wild to me that all the layouts are for floating, not using a wall — I know that’s what looks or feels best, but it’s literally never been how I’ve been able to arrange a living room. 🤦🏼‍♀️ (I actually bought a slender but low console table on Etsy that at least allows for a little float, plus gives you a spot to put your drink down and charge your phone). But I’d love a Proper Float!

    1. Hey Virginia,
      My room is tricky, as I explained above, plus it’s small, but I still float my soda a bit away from tge wall….ut actually looks like a bigger room that way! Go figure!

      1. I agree Rusty, and great that you have done too! When I see furniture pressed up against a wall, it looks stiff (like the sofa or chairs are at attention!) and like police line up to me. I think that furniture that a person sits on should float at least a few inched away from the wall, it just looks more relaxed to me. Your solution with a slender console between the wall and the back of the sofa is ideal, you get the breathing room and a place for a drink, books etc.! 🙂

    2. Ginny, Ryann and Jess’ rooms above all have furniture including sofas against walls? I don’t think they look stiff or crowded and having a smaller house myself these are the examples I tend to refer to the most for inspiration.

  6. This is so helpful, thank you! We have an open kitchen/dining/living. I’ve noticed when guests come over, they always flock to the bar stools at the counter and never sit on the sofa or living room furniture unless I really shepherd them over. I can’t figure out why that is! We have a chaise sectional with 1 chair configuration. Are they not wanting to mess up the throw pillows? (2 on each side of the couch). Is it more casual to just hang at the counter? Any thoughts?

    1. I’ve found that sometimes guests feel awkward using sofas with chaises. It’s a bit problematic because if you sit on the chaise section you’re reclining while everyone else is sitting up (so only very close friends who feel 100% comfortable would take that option), and if you sit on just the footstool bit you have no back support, so you’re either too comfortable or not comfortable enough. I’m considering turning my chaise into a regular sofa section + footstool for that reason.

  7. In our last two houses the layout that worked for us is two couches in an L-shape with a square coffee table in the gap where they meet, coffee table in the middle, two accent chairs + side table across from the L. We’re just not sectional people – we both like to lay on the couch and use the arm as a “pillow” so it’s what works best for us and we love it!

  8. Great resource Jess! I love the beautiful examples you provided too, thanks! 🙂
    I am always re-arranging furniture (in my mind) when I see awkward layouts – not on EHD though!

  9. Thanks for this! May I again request a studio apartment Budget Room and/or layout guide? Rent prices have skyrocketed, and my husband and I just had to move from our two-bedroom into a little studio and would adore some help! Thank you, team EHD!

      1. Oh, I’m well-versed. 🙂 In 2018, Team EHD did a Studio Apartment Budget Room that was stellar. I’m really just looking for an update!

  10. These are great layouts and it is so helpful to have photos of actual rooms that illustrate your points. Can I throw another monkey wrench in — how does one incorporate a baby grand piano into layouts? I know — not exactly a “problem” but still, it makes furniture arranging more difficult.

  11. If anyone here would like to help me! My house is 1810 and has two focal points, possibly 3.
    One end has the original hearth swing arm stone fireplace
    Opposite end is a wall I was planning a tv
    Then you have a foundation wall with no windows (where I thought I could put a couch)
    The last wall is a beautiful stone wall with floor to ceiling windows looking to the yard.
    The width of the room is narrow: 151” (including the walkway)… real width to not block the walkway is 110”
    The length of the room is long 243”

    Any help? I’m thinking of sofa against the foundation wall (even though furniture along walls are discouraged)
    Two swivel chairs in the middle of the room so you can look at tv or turn them to look at fireplace.

    It’s sooo hard would love help! 🙂

    1. I think your plan sounds good.
      The swivel chairs would make it work and provide flexibility.

  12. Hi…HELP!! My living room is small and square-ish shaped, the entry door (directly into the living room), the fireplace and one window are all on the same wall. Across from all of this is a wall with the archway into the kitchen. The other two walls are just a bit shorter; one of these walls has a window but the other one (directly across) is just a solid wall which is where I have my piano. This wall’s corner is with the entry door/fireplace/ window wall. I have a sofa, chaise lounge, and a barrel chair. Also, a 52″ screen t.v. I think putting the t.v. next to the fireplace, in front of the window (sort of, more like in the corner at an angle), is what I’ll do since there is no other place for it, but that’s as far as I can go… I have no vision! If anyone understands my description and has any ideas, I am ALL EARS! PLEASE!

  13. These layouts are very helpful! In my living room, the front door is directly across from the fireplace which makes furniture layout challenging. On one side of the room is a large opening into the dining room. On the fireplace wall, adjacent to the only uninterrupted wall in the room is a cased opening into the hallway. There are windows on either side of the front door. Which layout option would work best?

  14. My new living room and my sectional are not getting along. I think it might be the coffee table’s fault.

  15. Love this article! You write like an old lady, been there done that, but your young ! This is the best advice that an old lady is enjoying . I’ve had many homes and the L.Room arrangements are the most difficult. All the shots and drawings really help ! Big thanks .
    My latest challenge is one wall fire place,the other 16 feet of wall to ceiling two story windows with Mt views. Lots of people so I need min of 8 seating.

  16. I have a livingroom that is odd and none of these configurations will work. I have stairs to the basement so, that is a rail and a walkway to the kitchen and dining room. So the door to kitch/dine is the second wall. It has the fireplce next to the opening to the kitch/dine. Then the third part of that wall is cubby. Third wall door to the other beds and bath. So, walkway infrt of the fireplace. Wall four, three floor to ceiling windows. Still deciding how it will be set-up.

  17. I want to know what approximate dimensions of said small, standard, large living rooms that the article references. I know if I scrounged, I might find the recommended spacings for pieces of furniture in relation to others, walls, walks, but I just want to understand the operational definitions so I can better interpret these layouts and the amazing pix that accompany.
    Thank you!

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