How to arrange furniture in a rectangular shaped room

If you have a rectangular shaped room and you don’t know how to arrange your furnishings, you are not alone! It’s a very common problem and actually fairly simple to fix.  I do a lot of one day Interior Redesigns and a lot of the homes have a rectangular shaped which are difficult for most to come up with a furniture arrangement that looks good, feels good and is funtional.

Here’s what you need to do.  You need to visually divide the room into two sections.  One section (the main area) should take up about 3/4 ‘s of the room, and the secondary area will take up the remaining 1/4 of the room.  For example:

Floor Plan rectangle 10-10-07 

In this example, we have a typical seating area around the TV.  If we had used the entire space for watching TV, the room would have had some “bad seats”, it wouldn’t be conversational, and it would probably feel uncomfortable.  By adding a secondary seating area (this could also be a table a chairs, a game area, a reading nook, a computer area, etc) the primary section is comfortable and functional; as well as, the secondary area.

Here are a few other things to also keep in mind where Redesigning a room.  Scale. For example: don’t big a large piece of art over a small table.  The scale is wrong.  Traffic flow.  Be sure to consider the flow of traffic through the room – where you do and don’t want traffic is key to a good floorplan. Keep the architecture or focal point of the room in mind before and during your redesign so you can enjoy afterwards.

 You can do this on your own or call in an Interior Redesigner to do it for you!

Jill Denton ~ Hometown GMAC Real Estate and Changing Spaces Interior Redesign & Staging

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20 responses to “How to arrange furniture in a rectangular shaped room

  1. Thank you for the information, if nothing else it will prove to my hubby that I was right. We have a rectangular shaped den and it is proving difficult to arrange the furniture.

    I divided it in 2sections, my hubby was not thrilled , he said the room appeared small. I think it gives the room definition and charm.

  2. I would love to help you, but without seeing it, I can only refer you to the article I wrote on arranging a rectangular room. I can only guess the the cone you talk about is a rounded wall? Obviously the focal point, so you must LOVE it, work with it. Maybe accent paint, maybe a tapestry, something that will make it a piece of art. All this is said sight unseen. Best of luck!

  3. I have a rec. room with two picture windows and two doorways. I’m having a problem arranging the furniture. I would appreciate any ideas. Thank you.

    • Hi Debbie,
      Without seeing the room, I can only guess, but first tell me the shape and approx size of the room and where the doors and windows are located. Then I will give you my best educated guess.
      Jill

  4. I have a rectangular living room. It is the first room that you come into when you enter the house. It has one set of windows about a foot from the front door. Across from the front door I have the opening into the kitchen. By that entry way into the kitchen is a fairly long wall with a bedroom door towards the end of that wall. I have a lounger, glider rocker, a lazy boy chair, fairly big corner desk, and a smaller desk. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!

    • Hi Pam,
      Without seeing it in person I cannot totally understand you layout, but I’ll try to give you some ideas.

      First of all, most rectangular shaped rooms need to be divided into two section. One section is 3/4 of the room, therefore making the other secion 1/4 of the room. The larger section would most likely be the “living area” with a fireplace or TV as a focal point. The smaller section can be set up to be a special area for something you enjoy like: a reading, games, hobbys, music, bar, work, dining, etc. Read my article on this BLOG entitled: “Arranging furniture in a rectangular shaped room” for more information.

      Based upon the furnishings you mentioned, it sound like you have too many pieces. Choose one desk, you might need to scale down to two chairs (but three might work) … and it sounds like you need a sofa or sectional … a big piece to ground the space. Make the living area conversational oriented toward the focal point of the room. Work the bigger section first, empty out the smaller section. If you need to, get some blue painters tape and tape a line across the floor at the 3/4 mark … and float some furniture on that line. Once this section is done, then work on the smaller area.

      Best of luck!
      Jill

  5. Great tip on dividing the room into 2 areas then breaking down the furniture layout from there. It’s always a challenge to decide how to best use the long shaped room when it’s being tackled as one piece. Another tip that resonates, yet it’s what most folks want to do in a hurry, “Whatever you do, don’t just line the stuff up along the walls.”
    John Taylor,
    window blinds liverpool quick tips on selecting the right shape and styling your room

  6. william maddox

    my daughter recently bought a small 3 bedtime home in orlanda, fl. the LR is 12′wide & 16 ‘ long with fireplace centered on wall (at the end of the rectangular room. No foyer. you enter the room off covered porch. door is at the rt side of room as u face it. as u enter the room, the dining room is off the LR with a stair case that extents into the room & acts as a divider to the LR & DR. should the sofa face the fireplace? with tv over fp? she also has 5’2 baby grand she wants in living room. double window on front window, side window, oppsite fp and double windows in small dR (10×10) large open kitchen with granite tops, high ceilings etc. nice amenities, just very small>!!

    • Hello William,
      I hope I can still be of some assistance to you. The fireplace in the vocal point of the room, so YES, ideally the sofa should be configured around the fireplace. It may face it or not, depending on what other furnishings there ar ein the room. A flat panel above the fireplace, makes it even more the focal point (not from a design standpoint, but from a function standpoint).

      Is she going to use the dining room? Some people don’t so in that case, a great place for the piano. Otherwise, find the second largest area in the living room and angle to compliment the room.

      I would not try to divide the spaces visually … keep it open and airy and it won’t look as small.
      Without seeing it in person, I can not be sure.
      Best of luck!

  7. Hi Jill,
    Please can you help us with arranging the tv room with furniture. Size is W360cm x L600cm.
    We already split into two section main is covered by 360cm X 400cm where is tv, two sitter couch, and 2x one sitter. 2nd part is 360cm X 200 9 where is computer desk.

    Please help

    Many thanks in advance
    Sasha

    • Sasha,
      It sounds like you have the right idea, but when you divide the room into two areas – be sure one area is about 3/4 of the space (living area) and then that leaves 1/4 for your desk. Focus on the main area, by pulling it in, it becomes more cozy, social and functional. I wish I could see pictures!
      Jill

  8. Hi Vanessa,
    Without seeing the room and your furnishings in person I can only make basic suggestions. I would also need to see the layout of windows, doors, closets, etc. If you are in my area, I can do a design consultation with you for a fee. If you are not in the East Bay (San Francisco), I would recommend you go to http://www.irisorganization.org and look for someone in your area who can help you make the right decisions.

    Since you are having such a hard time, I think a consultation would be money well spent.
    Jill

  9. Hi i have a rectangular room but there are a lot of windows on 3 out of the 4 sides, and there’s also a balcony with doors that open so it’s hard to put anything in from of it. I have a desk, closet, and 2 dressers

    • Hello … so hard to say for sure without actually seeing the room and furnishings. But my first thought is to FLOAT the furniture. Most people line the walls with furnishings. Think outside the box and float the desk for example in the room taking advantage of the view! Best of luck!

  10. Christine Woodrow

    Hi Jill,

    We moved into our house 2 years ago and still can’t figure out how layout out the room. For now we have a couch and coffee table. The problem seems to be that we don’t have a full wall. On the west long end we have French doors, the north wall has windows that are centered and cover 3/4 of the wall, the east wall has a large fireplace, and the south wall is partial (it jets out about 2 feet and then is open -about 5’10-to the dining room then wall). What do you recommend for a room that is so narrow with so many doors and windows?
    Here is the dimension of the room.
    17’8 x 11’10

    Thanks, Christine

    • Hi Christine,
      Your fireplace is your focal point, so that is important to keep in mind. I think from your descrption the fireplace and french doors are on the smaller walls faceing one another. Ideally you would float the furniture, but if I can correct, that may or may not be possible based upon your furniture. I will create a small layout and email it to you.
      Jill

  11. Hello,
    I need some help organizing our rectangular living space. I’ve visually sectioned off 1/4 of it (made it into a kids play area with a bookcase, area rug and two bean bag chairs). What I’m stuck on is how to organize the furniture in the other 3/4. Do I arrange the furniture around the bookcase with the t.v., or the fireplace? They are beside each other and the fireplace is in the center of that room. May I email you photos? I would prefer not to have my photos posted on the web.
    Thanks!
    Eliza

    • You’re doing great so far! 3/4 and 1/4 is the way to go. When it comes to the focal point, the fireplace is the built-in focal point; however, if you watch more tv then sit in front of the fire you need to take that into consideration. If the room is large enough, you can arrange the furniture in between the fireplace and tv/bookcase. If the room is a rectangle, is the fireplace in the center of the long or short wall? Is the tv on an angle or flat against the wall? Send me a photo as if I were entering the room.
      Thanks,
      Jill

  12. Hi Jill,
    Please can u help me. We’ve just moved into our new house and are having major problems and are very indecisive as how best to design it.
    I’ll try explain the room as best I can. It used to be two small living rooms but the previous owners had the wall knocked so its now one long living room. It has a large window at one end and double doors into a lovely conservatory the other end. It has a beautiful marble fireplace with a mirror hanging above that up one end . This end also has the tv and a curved sofa and a two seater under the window. This is the tv are but then down the other end is bare,.
    We were thinking of maybe putting a big wall cabinet or something down there but are not sure. Not sure what type of furniture to put there or where you’d purchase it.
    Please can you help me. Any tips or suggestions would be very grateful. Many thanks in advance.
    Sheila

    • Hi Sheila … with a rectanglular shaped room you need to divide the space basically into 2/3 and 1/3. The 2/3 section sounds like your tv area. The 2/3 for how you primarily use the room. The 1/3 is a secondary use … music area, a reading area, a game area, a play area, a dining area, an art area … whatever it is that you and your family enjoy doing.

      Sometimes, if the sofa is placed floating in the room, acting a a divider, add a sofa back table and voila … it looks and feel good.

      I have not seen your room, so these are some general ideas, I hope they work for you!
      Jill

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