Have a challenging living room space that needs a fix? Below are some common home scenarios and awkward living room layout ideas that work.
Every space presents its own unique design challenges, but some rooms have challenges in spades. We’ll take some of the worst offenders and use them as an opportunity to put some of our creative design principles into practice.
Let's put our heads together and solve the most common awkward living room layout problems.
Contrary to popular belief, the open-concept floor plan is alive and well, causing homeowners everywhere to ponder how to best fill the void. First task: break up these large living spaces (and their L-shaped counterparts) into smaller zones that each serve a purpose.
Evaluate your priorities. Will you be watching TV in this room, snuggling in front of the fire, or having dynamic conversations with guests?
Start arranging the pieces you want at the top of your visual hierarchy in each zone. The VIP pieces might be your TV, a piano, or a dining table; place them and begin building your furniture arrangements around them.
For instance, if your focal points are the dining area and TV, set them up first, then float your couch partway through the room, facing the TV with chairs grouped around it. The back of the couch serves as a visual division between the living area and the dining table. You now have two activity zones instead of one.
Place your furniture together in a conversational arrangement within these zones to keep your open concept from feeling cavernous. Make sure these pieces are close enough to one another that you can comfortably have a conversation. If chairs are spaced too far apart for a discussion, then chances are your guests won’t be able to hear one another.
Pulling upholstered pieces closer together also lends a cozy factor to a space that could otherwise feel cold. Even just two chairs turned to face one another at an angle can bring life to an empty corner.
If the space is large enough, indulge in larger pieces of furniture. Consider using that console behind the couch and two end tables rather than one. The world is your oyster with an open-concept living room layout!
Use rugs to define the living room design further. Large rooms require large rugs extending well beyond the furnishings' front legs. If you are turning your couch at an angle in a long rectangular room, a rug set at that angle immediately transforms the geometry of the space.
For rooms that double as two separate living areas, hang unique statement chandeliers in each to distinguish the spaces. Situate ambient and task lighting around the space with lamps and pendants to open up dark corners. You can play around with different lighting styles in Spoak’s online design tool to see how well they work together before making any purchases that would be a hassle to return.
There’s not much you can do about support columns standing right in the middle of your living room. Rather than trying to hide them with furniture, just own them. Let them serve as a divider between the living and dining areas.
If you have more than one column, consider constructing a bar or shelf system between them as a room divider. If you buy books faster than you can read them (no shame here), perhaps a waist-high bookshelf between those columns is in order. You can pull books off your coffee table and divide up awkward spaces.
With this focus on zones and grouping, it’s important to remember that your open-concept living room still needs to be a unified space. Keep flooring, woodwork, and paint consistent throughout so it won’t feel fragmented. The interior design color wheel is your friend here (and always) in helping you select the best color scheme and palette for your space.
Designing around an angled fireplace is a challenge. To group your furniture around it for cozy evenings, turn your couch at an angle to face the fireplace and create that conversational group of chairs around it.
If you’re a devoted Friday night Netflix binge-watcher, place your TV on the adjacent wall with the sofa facing it and the hearth still in view. The fireplace can still have its shining moment with a couple of chairs turned toward each other in front of it to create a separate seating area. A bench will give the same cozy effect if your space is not quite big enough for larger plush chairs.
Those weird little recessed areas in the living room are a design feature waiting to happen. If it is next to a built-in cabinet or fireplace, creating a bookcase to “fill it in” is a visual upgrade and a storage solution at once.
If your alcove is large enough and the room is small, tuck your sofa into the space. If the living room already has plenty of room for sofas and armchairs, create a separate reading nook with a chair and table.
Smaller nooks can showcase artwork with a small gallery wall or collection of prints. Throw that potted monstera you’ve been babying into the limelight in a problematic alcove. Set an ambient LED spotlight behind it to bring the dark corner to life. The possibilities are endless.
Handle a long, narrow living room in the same way you’d handle a small boxy one. Everything is about balance.
All of the rules of breaking a long room into zones still apply here, but the room’s narrow nature requires extra care to keep walkways accessible. Smaller-scale furniture or modular pieces could make this easier and keep things from feeling cramped. Opt for a sofa and matching ottoman that can be moved rather than a full sectional.
Minimize the extreme nature of the space with complementary shapes. Emphasize vertical height as a counterpoint to the narrow length of the room. You can do this with tall mirrors and high artwork or by hanging long curtains higher than your windows.
Soften a long rectangular room by adding curves. A curved sofa, circular rugs, and rounded sculptures will all take the edge off. Consider making one of your conversational furniture groupings semi-circular to offset the harsh lines of the room. A small round coffee table will facilitate a circle of chairs around the couch.
When you do need wider pieces in the space, look for slimline shelves and tables that won’t protrude too far from the wall.
Pass-through rooms often have some of the issues mentioned above, plus an abundance of doors to decorate around. Try seeing the psychological benefit of transitional space and create a place to retreat or reset between two areas.
Consider how traffic needs to move in this room. Make sure walkways stay clear as you place furnishings. Can closets be opened fully and views enjoyed from the windows? Would a tighter furniture arrangement make for more ease of movement?
Don’t line the small amount of wall space you have with furniture unless there’s no other option. Floating that sofa with a rug to ground your activity zone makes a small space feel larger. It also gives purpose to a confusing multi-purpose room.
If you must place furniture against a window, try to use low-profile pieces. The more natural light your space gets, the larger your room feels.
Rooms with odd entrances and doors may require creative furniture ideas, like a swivel chair that sits in a corner but can still turn to face the couch or TV.
Smaller-scale, modular pieces of furniture pulled closer together can create separate zones while working in a tight space. Smaller sofas or chairs can be pulled together more closely, then rolled out of the walkway after movie night.
If your living room is the equivalent of a hallway with lots of traffic, you may need an organizational console to keep it tidy and functional. A slim console table or shoe cabinet near one of the doors can be your home’s catch-all and keep the space clutter-free.
It’s time to take control of that awkward living room layout and reshape the space to fit your needs. Here’s to making that awkward living room more liveable!
Photo Credit: (Left) House Beautiful
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