The Ultimate Living Room Layout Guide: 10 Ideas for Arranging Your Furniture

Redesigning your living room can seem like an intimidating task – as possibly the most-used room in your home, and one of the biggest, there are a lot of elements asking to be tackled. What kind of sofa should you choose? Can you repurpose a sideboard as an entertainment unit? How can you maximise storage in a smaller room? And, once you’ve worked out all of these tricky questions, how do you style it – coastal, mid-century modern, Scandinavian?

Take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea and settle down, because we’ve got all the tips, tricks and answers for you right here. Keep reading to discover our exhaustive list of living room layout ideas, plus advice for selecting your furniture pieces, styling and more. Take what you will, leave the rest, and make sure you keep one thing in mind throughout the entire process – at the end of the day, it’s your living room, and what you say goes.

What is the room’s purpose?

Brosa Christoph 3 Seater Sofa styled in modern contemporary living room

Christoph 3 Seater Sofa | Shop living room furniture

Lounge room, living room, front room or rumpus room – regardless of what you call it, this space should be first and foremost purpose-driven. Before you start applying different design principles to your living room, it’s important to establish its purpose and make it clear, as this will affect every decision you make from here on out. Consider how many people are in your family, how large the room itself is, any quirks or immovable features, how often you entertain and whether you have any unique needs, like additional storage or to accommodate other pieces of furniture.

Now, let’s jump into some living room layout and styling tips!

1. Start with a clean slate

First up, take it back to basics and start off with an empty room as your blank canvas. The clearer you’re able to get your living room, the better – this will allow you to really see the space and all of its unique features and intricacies, and overall, to more accurately plan out where each piece of furniture will go. Once you’ve got a stripped-back room in front of you, you can use pen and paper to create a rough floor plan, or even use cut-out pictures of your furniture items and move them around to see where they’ll look best. This will allow you to take full charge of your living room layout and really own where everything goes, rather than letting your pieces fall into expected spots.

2. Don’t stick to the walls

One mistake that’s often made when designing and styling a living room is the idea that the walls are magnetised, and your furniture just HAS to sit against them. This is so far from the truth, and as soon as you break away from this mold, your design principles will benefit from it. The concept of lining your walls with furniture is quite outdated, so when you move your pieces just a couple of inches, you’ll be injecting the room with modern flair.

Brosa Rodin Modular Sofa with Chaise styled in mid-century modern living room

Rodin Modular Sofa with Chaise | Shop living room furniture

Start out with the sofa and see how it feels – chances are, you’ll be pretty thrilled by all the extra space you’ve got behind your couch to move around and live your life with ease. It also gives the space a lighter, airy look and reinvigorates the flow of the room. Moving your sofa away from the walls also means you can place other furniture items behind it, like a thin sideboard or a bookshelf. The same goes for other pieces – as long as it doesn’t hinder your use of the space, we say, go for it!

3. Design around the light

Something that’s integral to absolutely every space is light. Whether it’s artificial lighting from a lamp, or gorgeous, radiant natural light pouring in through windows and doors, you can’t function in a room without light. In the living room, you’ll likely be working with a combination of natural and artificial lighting, and it’s important to get this balance right. To make the best use of the space, consider light throughout the design process and ensure that your layout is informed by this crucial must-have for a beautiful home.

If you have a large window or glass doors with a beautiful view, take advantage of this. Use this wall as your room's focal point and centre your seating around it so you can make the most of those warm, sunny mornings or afternoons. If seating isn’t your purpose in the room (more on this in a second… ) then simply focus whatever your key elements in the space are around this light source. When it comes to artificial lighting, this is a little less integral to the layout of your room, but do make sure that there’s ample room for as many light sources as necessary, and if you have overhead or hanging lighting, that your furniture is concentrated in those bright areas.

4. Go purpose-first

Not to toot our own horns, but that purpose point we mentioned earlier? Yeah, we’re harking back to it with styling idea #4. Take a purpose-first approach to designing your living room layout and prioritise the placement of the object or group of objects you’ll use the most. Here’s what we mean.

Brosa Oslo Armchair and Oslo 2 Seater Sofa styled in new Art Deco living room

Oslo Armchair and Oslo 2 Seater Sofa | Shop living room furniture

If you spend the most time in your living room bingeing the latest and greatest show or movie, the two most important items in the space will be the sofa and the television. Start off by placing these in an optimal position and let the rest fall into line. For book readers, maybe you love having a cosy spot that features an armchair and a bookcase. Perfect! Let’s grab these two items, single them out and place them wherever fits best. Also consider things like lighting, movement, flow and accessibility.

Once you’ve found a definitive spot for your priority pieces, everything else should simply fall into place. You’ll find that the space is not only more enjoyable to use because it heroes your favourite things, but you may also notice its functionality has jumped up a notch.

5. Tailor your sofa to your needs

With your purpose very much established, it’s time to suss out perhaps the most important piece in your space – your sofa, or alternatively, your seating options. This will depend on so many factors, including some we’ve already mentioned, but space will perhaps be your biggest consideration. If you’ve got a huge room on your hands, it’ll need to look adequately full, so as your largest furniture piece, the sofa will take on this role. On the other hand, if you’re working with a very small space, you’ll need to scale back on the sofa whilst still prioritising your purpose.

For those with a large living room, first of all – lucky ducks! Now that we’ve extolled the virtues of having lots of space (sorry, studio dwellers) it’s time to consider sofa options. One way to really fill the space and create lots of seating options is by opting for a modular sofa. These curve around in an L or C shape, depending on how big they are, and leave room for the whole family (and then some) to relax and sprawl out.

Brosa Palermo 3 Seater Modular Sofa with Chaise styled in coastal living room

Palermo 3 Seater Modular Sofa with Chaise | Shop living room furniture

If you don’t have space for larger furniture pieces like a 4-seater modular sofa, consider something slimline with fewer seats. Soft textures and fabrics are your best friend in a small space, as they’ll up the cosy factor even if the couch itself isn’t huge enough to sink into. Deeper proportions and rounded styles can also add to the comfort factor. If even a 2-seater is too big for the room, you’ve also got the option of enlisting multiple armchairs and even ottomans to create a variety of seating possibilities.

6. Use unique seating configurations

With your sofa choices ready to go, it’s time to place them in the room. Although there are ‘traditional’ ways of arranging your sofa and seating options, to keep your living room fresh and chic, why not break the mold and set your own trends? There are a few ways to mix up your seating configurations:

  • Try angular arrangements: Your sofa and armchairs don’t always have to be at 90-degree angles facing the couch or fireplace. It’s the 21st century, and these old-school rules need not be perpetuated anymore! Place your seating on angles and play with the distance between the wall and the piece.
  • Pair pieces together: Grouping your seats together can create cute, functional ‘pockets’ in the room that are super conducive to entertaining or socialising. Pair two armchairs together in a cosy corner, or add an ottoman and armchair alongside a smaller sofa to encourage interaction.
  • Use space dynamically: If your needs are constantly changing, who says your space can’t change with them? Having dynamic furniture options that can be moved around and used in diverse ways means you’ll be able to go from entertaining a large group to relaxing at home with immediate family in the blink of an eye. Ottomans and armchairs can be moved around easily and won’t look out of place in other rooms.

7. Switch up your table layouts

Brosa Mia Nest of Tables styled in Scandinavian living room

Mia Nest of Tables | Shop living room furniture

Another way to maximise living room space, or simply use it differently, is through varying your table layouts. Most living rooms will have at least one surface, if not multiple – the options are endless, but can include coffee tables, sideboards, bar cabinets, bookshelves, desks and side tables.

The trick here is to not get bogged down by a piece’s inherent, primary function. Think of everything as adaptable, and use your furniture in unique ways as a result. For instance, a shelf on your bookcase that sits level with your sofa could be used to hold important items, or a bar cabinet could double up as a side table. Treat each piece in your room as multifunctional and you’re bound to have additional space to play with when you’re done styling.

Another popular surface option that suits modern and mid-century homes in particular is a small group of tables that stack together in a ‘nest’. They’re circular and of varying heights, and because they’re light, can be moved around the room with ease. Use them to hold your drink, stack books, play card games – the options are pretty much endless! Then, when you’re done with them, they can be stacked back together and stored in the corner of the room or used as one piece.

8. Always factor in storage

No matter how huge or tiny your living room is, one thing that 99% of us can’t compromise on in this integral part of our homes is storage. Even after we’ve Marie Kondo’d our lives, the junk seems to just accumulate at an out-of-control rate, demanding we find more places to put it. Such is life, and with good storage options built-in to your living room layout, this common problem will be far less intimidating.

Your first go-to here, especially if you own your home, should be shelving. Shelving makes for great storage, but also presents an incredible design opportunity with the ability to be styled however you’d like. Plus, you’ll find that in the long run, although you’re adding another piece of furniture to the room, shelving items are space-savers. Bookshelves, bookcases, cabinets, open-wall shelving and entertainment units all maximise space while providing ample storage space for every random bit and bob that’s currently lying around your home (we see you, and we salute you). Style your open shelving by playing with colour, texture and height.

Brosa Monterey Collection styled in modern Hamptons living room

Monterey Hamptons Style bookcase, nest of tables and coffee table | Shop living room furniture

If you’re still pressed for space, ensure you’ve got storage options built into your surfaces, such as drawers in coffee tables and sideboards. The more storage space that’s built into your furniture, the better, as it’ll prevent boxes and crates from cluttering up your floor and interrupting the flow of the room.

9. Think multifunctional

We’ve harped on this a fair bit, but that’s just a testament to how important it is to remember when you’re designing and styling your space, particularly if it’s on the smaller side. Pieces that have multiple uses or configurations will never go astray, as they not only give you options, but they tend to be natural space-savers. For instance, find an ottoman that also has storage in the seat – voila, it’s a place to park yourself after a long day, and it’ll hold the books you want to read when you’re winding down!

Brosa Greta Bar Cabinet styled in modern contemporary living room

Greta Bar Cabinet | Shop living room furniture

Here are a couple of multifunctional pairings or groupings to consider:

  • Coffee table / storage unit – Find a coffee table with lots of drawer space to use this as a place to store errant items.
  • Bar cabinet / sideboard – Combining these pieces will save you space, money and stress, plus it means you’ve got access to the best of both worlds! Find something that’s medium-sized and strikes a balance between bar cabinet and sideboard.
  • Ottoman / coffee table – Depending on the material, you can also use an ottoman as a coffee table! Sturdier ottomans upholstered in durable fabrics can be used to rest your drink or the TV remotes when you’re a little pressed for space.
  • Desk / table of some description – If you work from home, a desk can be a necessary yet frustrating addition to your living room. Instead of letting this bog you down, use it in multiple ways by transforming it to a usable surface of a night. It could hold your TV, act as a coffee table or serve as a side table, depending on where you place it.

10. When all else fails, consider flow

We hope you’re excited to implement some of our layout tips in your living room, but if you’re still feeling a bit uninspired, here’s a final piece of wisdom that should carry you through. Once you’ve carved out those non-negotiables (e.g. sofa, surface, lighting) then your primary concern should really just be ‘flow’. The way the room allows for movement, permits day-to-day use and how it feels to you are more imperative than you may think.

The great thing about creating a layout is that it’s not immovable – in fact, you can change it however many times you like. Move pieces around to your heart’s content and consider the flow at every juncture. Chances are, your sofa will feel ‘right’ in one spot in the room compared to another, and every item will fall into place in a similar way. Trust your instincts, keep functionality top of mind, and most of all, enjoy creating your ideal living room.

Ready to take these living room layout tips and run with them? Brosa are here to help you achieve your design dreams and create a living room you’ll love for a long time. Shop our huge range of living room furniture, including sofas, surfaces, storage and lighting, and access Australia-wide shipping. Check out with Afterpay or ZipMoney on all orders, and don’t forget to try out our virtual styling services if you need a little more reassurance. Happy styling!