Living Rooms 101. Furniture layouts.

Understanding your living room’s primary function is integral to getting the most out of your living room furniture. Is it a gathering spot for family? A place for relaxation and TV watching? Or, perhaps a showcase for personal artifacts, art and your spectacular style? Pinpointing the function is your guiding light for all other furnishing and layout decisions.

This blog is an adaptation of our podcast. If you’d prefer to listen or watch, click the links below.


This can’t be summed up neatly into a blog, though I wish it could. Consider everything that’s going on in the room, as well as any sightlines. Select pieces that complement each other in style and colour to achieve a cohesive look. Don’t shy away from mixing textures and materials for a layered approach.

Whatever you do, don’t select a matching set. You don’t want someone to come to your home and say, “Oh, I saw this display at Leon’s!” Don’t do that. You want this to feel curated as if it took you years and 100 stores to select these pieces, even if it didn’t. I suggest starting with something you love and working from there. Then, select coordinating pieces two at a time.

Select pieces that reflect your style but also offer comfort and functionality. Consider durable fabrics and materials that can withstand daily use. If you have a young family or pets, wipeable and washable are must-haves!


As we mentioned in the dining areas blog, the scale of your living room furniture starts from the size of the room and then the clearances to allow circulation. You need to be able to walk freely around your pieces. We don’t want stubbed toes or spilled scotch glasses.

The main entry point to your living room should be about 30 inches, but 24 inches will do in a tighter space. To make the opening feel more open, use low-backed furniture. Don’t place pieces like a wingback chair at the entry point in a small space. The higher the furniture, the smaller the opening will feel.

Maintain 18 inches between coffee tables and sofas, but 12 inches can be done in a tighter space that you might not venture into very often. Because the coffee table is low, you only need enough space to scooch in and have a comfortable reach to place a beverage.

After subtracting these clearances from the size of your room, you’ll have a good idea of the maximum size of sofa, loveseat, or accent chair you should select.

Large living room with a black leather sectional with a chaise covered by a white faux fur blanket. Along the far wall is a low built-in shelving unit with a light inset fireplace. To the right are a pair of two highback chairs. Grounding the whole room is a large monochrome area rug with swirls.


Your walls don’t need help staying up straight. If they do, please call us. There’s something deeply wrong with the structure of your home. You might be shaking your head at the screen, “But Krista, my room is small. If I pulled furniture away from the walls, I’d have no room to walk.” And to that, I say, that’s a sign that the size and scale of your furniture are wrong for the size of your room. It might be too large for your space.

Pulling furniture away from the walls creates the feeling of more space, even in cramped quarters. Your living room furniture should be brought in to allow smaller conversation areas throughout your room. Think of your furniture as mirroring the people who will use the space.

When you free yourself from the idea of securing every piece of furniture to a wall, you’ll open your mind to a world of layout possibilities.


Arrange seating in a circular or semi-circular pattern to encourage interaction. Ensure everyone has a spot to set down a drink or a book, making the space comfortable and functional.


Great rooms, for example, need some definition. When you’ve got a kitchen, dining area, and living room in one space, you need a way to define them.

In the example below, we’ve used a set of chairs. They’re not bulky. Clean, thin legs allow the eye to travel through them, but the living room still feels like a defined space from the kitchen and kitchen nook. We’ve also used swivel chairs in the same way to allow them to be part of the kitchen conversation or the living room. Positioned correctly, they can facilitate interaction with multiple zones on your main floor.

Lighting - Black Colour Ties the Scheme. A luxury main floor with dark light shades and metal. Light grey kitchen. Spiral staircase. Modern living room.


Tables are not just functional; they can also define zones within your living room. The back of a sofa can define a space, but it’s not typically the most attractive part of it. Add a console table for additional storage, a place to set drinks and food, or a way to add more layered lighting.

Calgary has not stopped growing since its inception, and we have many mid-century homes with foyers that drop you right into the living room. Adding a console table and a well-sized area rug between the door and the living area can define that space and give the feeling of a formal foyer without adding to the footprint of your home.

Living room furniture after photo. Two yellow accent chairs have been moved to separate the dining space from the living space and allow the light tiled fireplace to become the focal point of the room. The chrome lamp was moved and additional softer lamps enlighten this previously dark room. A sofa table doubles as an entry table for keys and a place to put drinks when watching tv.


Area rugs are essential in living rooms and family rooms. They ground the space and make everything feel cohesive.

Selecting an area rug can be incredibly technical. They can range from cheap and cheerful to requiring a trust fund or a second mortgage to purchase. We won’t be able to discuss the ins and outs of area rugs, but we’re considering bringing a rug expert to the podcast. Stay tuned!

Area Rug Quick tips:

  • Your area rug should be squarely under the front legs of your furniture or all four legs.
  • If you can find a rug the right size, it’s best that it stretches to between 12 and 18 inches from the edge of the wall.
  • Area rugs can be placed over wall-to-wall carpet if you need to define a space or aren’t ready to rip up the carpet just yet.
Modern furniture in a classic castle-like living room. The natural stone fireplace is a contrast to the bright modern green accent chairs, the curved light boucle and modern light fixture. A large green and grey rug grounds the space.

Everything About The TV

Ergonomics of TV Viewing

You probably think about ergonomics for your office quite often. You know you shouldn’t look up or down at your monitor to avoid putting too much strain on your neck. But how often do you think about ergonomics for your living room? I’m guessing it’s not often, if ever.

If most of your TV viewing is done from a distance, having your TV mounted on the wall makes perfect sense. However, if most of your viewing is done from the sofa nestled right up close to a TV, that TV shouldn’t be mounted high on a wall.

Your gaze should be directed ever so slightly downward, so be sure to mount the bottom of your TV at the level of your sofa cushion. If there’s no other option than to mount your TV above a fireplace or higher on a wall, plenty of brackets pull downwards when you’re ready to binge the PGA tour. 

Placing a TV & Fireplace on the Same Wall

This is a common space-saving solution that Calgary builders have latched onto for the past 30 years. Often, the TV is mounted above the fireplace. It works, but it’s not very ergonomic.

We prefer to place a fireplace in the sitting room and keep the TV in the media room. However, if your sitting room and media room are one and the same, a more ergonomic solution would be to place the fireplace and TV side-by-side.

Should Seating Always Face the TV or Fireplace?

While the focal point of a living area is often a TV or a Fireplace, your seating does not have to be placed squarely in front of them theatre-style. Seating can be perpendicular to the focal point or not face it at all. For example, a cozy reading nook by the fireplace doesn’t have to face the fireplace directly to enjoy its warmth and light. You’ll hear this repeatedly: Create conversation areas!

Disguise Your TV as Art

Can I be honest? TVs aren’t beautiful. Truth be told, I think they’re a bit of a black hole that sucks the soul out of a styled living room.

You don’t have to agree, but if you do, I have a suggestion for you! Consider purchasing a TV with an artisanal frame or an after-market frame. Disguise your TV as a stunning art piece that can be interchanged when you’re not using it for its primary function.

Fireplace after. Wood grain textured tile with light cabinetry.


As always, there’s so much to consider with living rooms. I hope this helped you get started on your living room furniture journey. Perhaps a few of these golden nuggets were the thing to urge you on. That’s our hope, anyway. When you’re ready for some assistance with your furnishing selections, let’s talk!