Moving into a house, especially when upgrading from a cramped apartment, is an exciting prospect. More space to display collections of art, furniture, and decor, and with luck a yard where a garden could be cultivated and fresh flowers trimmed. The prospect can turn daunting, however, upon the realization that more space means merely more decisions about what to place where hence numerous possibilities for design missteps. All is not lost though; below are a few simple rules for arranging furniture that, when followed, will make the process straightforward and stress-free.
Just Enough (or maybe even too little)
When deciding what pieces will go in which room, naturally you’ll have to think critically, in advance, about its function. Start with the bare minimum the space will require to serve its purpose. The dining room will need a dining table and chairs, and a chandelier or several pendants overhead. If the area is large and feels empty with just these essentials, consider adding a sideboard, hutch, or even chest of drawers along one wall for much-needed storage and as a place to add ambient lighting. Apply the same approach to each space, starting with a bed and nightstands in the bedrooms, and communal seating in the living area adding until they’re functional. Then stop. You may be surprised how much you enjoy the clean, minimal aesthetic, and of course, more pieces can always be added later.
With a larger home, come larger spaces. The sideboard that seemed ample in your last apartment might appear hopelessly small in a good size living room. Try to find pieces of a scale appropriate to the size of the space-a long case suitable for a long room, for instance. Remember to think regarding three dimensions as well; if the ceilings are high look for tall shelving units or floor lamps that will draw attention to the feature. On the whole, in larger spaces, it’s better to have fewer over-scaled pieces than numerous smaller ones.
Points of Interest
Not every room will have one or needs it, but finding a focal point to reference as you go about the arrangement process is most helpful. It could be an architectural feature such as a fireplace mantle or a bay window, or a piece de resistance such as a large painting or sectional sofa. Whatever it is, establish this point first, using it as a guide in the arrangement process. If there is a large window in the room with a favorable view, say, orient the seating accordingly and make sure not to obstruct the view with items such as floor lamps, pendants, or high backed chairs
If you happen to have a modern open floor plan house, you’ll want to define spaces within the larger space. A table and chairs with a pendant or chandelier overhead spells a dining area, and a group of seating over a rug connotes a conversation zone. A couch facing away from the rest of the room creates a living area and an easy chair with a side table and floor lamp a ‘reading nook.’ Open floor plans are great because they allow plenty of flexibility, but they can easily drift into awkward, confused arrangements. Creating well-defined zones for various purposes will help to avoid any such scenario.
Staging furniture in a home, you’ll inevitably have a wide variety of sizes among the pieces to be arranged. The goal should be balanced. If a large couch anchors one end of a room, balance it with two sturdy, easy chairs, accessorizing them with ottomans or side tables and a floor lamp. Color and pattern are traits to consider as well. If one piece has bold, intricate upholstery, the others in the space should reference at least one or two of its colors and be of a more subtle pattern.
Consider The Walls
Consider the walls of your gathering spaces (parlor, living room). If one has plenty of windows, great! But a long unbroken expanse of a bare wall can be a bit of an eyesore, or at the very least dull. A well-chosen wallpaper design could do the trick, as long as it references one or two colors present in the decor. But this is also a wonderful opportunity to display your art and vintage print collection. Just be sure the sizes of the pieces are in keeping with the furniture they’re above if any. A good rule of thumb is that frames should be at least ⅔ the length of a furniture item. Otherwise several should be grouped to achieve the same proportion.
Finally, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the grand task of arranging a home. Take it one space at a time, choose pieces you like, and don’t forget; nothing about your arrangement is permanent. Once you move in, keep experimenting, move pieces around and play with the layouts. You’ll sharpen your design skills and keep the look fresh in the process.