Home & Family

Breaking Traditions in Furniture Placement

Arranging furniture in a room can be a bit like fitting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Great success is met when all the separate elements work together. Though some basic rules need to apply, such as not blocking windows and maintaining a safe path for foot traffic, it’s also okay to break some traditions by mixing things up a bit. Here are three decorating traditions that are totally fine to break:

1) Repurpose rooms. Homes built in the past often featured formal and informal spaces, such as a stately dining room, cozy kitchen, elegant living room, and comfy den. These areas are generally separated by walls and feature distinct ambiances. The formal areas were frequently reserved for special occasions, such as Sunday dinners or when company came for a visit. Nowadays, most people want to “live in” and use all parts of the home daily. This movement is reflected in modern-day renovations where homeowners remove walls to create an open concept, all-purpose living space. Tradition can still be broken for those who don’t have the budget to take down walls by converting infrequently used rooms into useable space – with furniture being the key! By swapping out the dining room table for a desk set and bookshelf, one can easily transform a rarely used formal eating area into a functioning office space. In another example, swapping the stiff living room sofa with a few cushy chairs can turn a stuffy living room into a comfortable reading area to create more usable space in the home. 

2) Consider focal points. Tradition tells us that couches and other furniture pieces should be pushed up against the wall. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best layout for the room. To make the best decision on where furniture should go, decide how you want to use the space. For example, is it for television watching or is it for entertaining friends? One must also consider the room’s focal point or main feature to be highlighted, whether it be a widescreen television, a brick fireplace, or spectacular ocean or mountain views. Awkward room shapes and special features may also come into play regarding furniture placement. For example, a wide room entrance, irregular ceiling shape, or French door placement must be considered in the plan. The traditional method of lining furniture up against the wall isn’t necessarily best, as it not only detracts from the room’s purpose, focal point, and special features, but it may also create a huge void in the center of the room, reminiscent of a dance floor. Know that it’s okay to use a sofa in non-traditional ways to divide or define spaces. In a large multipurpose room, a set of sofas can even be placed back-to-back and accented with other pieces to create two distinct seating areas. For instance, this exciting layout would allow one grouping to face the fireplace and the other area to take advantage of the outdoor view. 

3) Break symmetry. Traditionally, furniture is sold in sets, such as a sofa with a matching love seat or a table with six coordinating chairs. While some pairing is fine, matching lends to a formal appeal. But beware because too much coordination can sometimes provide an old-fashioned ambiance. Instead, many room designers seek to achieve what is called “asymmetrical balance.” This technique is particularly helpful in blending odd features into the room, such as an off-centered fireplace. By combining some unexpected elements, such as dramatic artwork or a dark accent wall, this style can rid the room of rigidness. Rather than have a standard set of end tables on each side of a bed, place floating shelves at different varying heights instead, or balance a big sofa with several chairs that carry the same visual weight. Know that everything doesn’t have to match. It’s okay to add unexpected elements into a room to make it more visually appealing and play with design and furniture placement to add interest.

Breaking the tight constraints of tradition in furniture choices and arrangements can breathe new life into your space by making it updated and more appealing. Making sense of your space and getting your space to work for you are among the great benefits of repurposing rooms, emphasizing focal points, and focusing on creating a unique balance. To do so, it may be necessary to step out of your comfort zone, break the mold, and embrace new freedom of design. 


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