Furniture Arranging 101

Take a crash course in arranging and moving your furniture.

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Complimentary colored furniture and hardwood floor accentuate the casual comfort of this dining room and living room combination.

Arrange your furniture to its best advantage, and spare yourself the headache and the backache by following these tips:

  • Take inventory to determine what you have as well as what you want to use in your new room setting.

  • Make a graph: Using ¼-inch-scale graph paper, make a floor plan of the room. Measure all pieces of furniture exactly and make a paper template of each piece. Roll small pieces of tape and put one on the back of each template. Now you can move the templates around to find the best arrangement before you move a single piece.

  • Establish a focal point or two - a television, fireplace, a window, an aquarium - and plan to cluster the furniture around them accordingly.

  • Allow three feet for pathways in and out of a room.

  • Chairs and sofas should be no more than 8 feet apart (too much distance makes conversation difficult).

  • Separate large rooms into specific areas such as reading and entertaining areas to provide the room with a cozy feel. This effect can be created with plants, wall hangings, and furniture.

  • If you want to create a cozy conversational area, arrange two sofas so that they face each other. A colorful rug placed between the sofas helps define the area.

  • Similarly scaled pieces are more serene when used together, but a nice balance of pieces of differing height, depth and width creates a harmonious atmosphere, utilizing the differing physical qualities of height, depth and width throughout the room.

  • Before committing to fabrics, paint colors or accessories, arrange the furniture.

  • Don't place everything against the wall. Be bold. Set sofas or area rugs on angles - it’s more visually interesting.

  • Don't buy new accessories or commit to fabrics or paint colors until you've determined the arrangement of the furniture and have a clear picture of what you need.

  • To move heavy furniture by yourself if you don't have access to a furniture dolly, slip a piece of heavy fabric or Turkish towel under the legs and use it to pull the furniture.

  • Avoid "floating" pieces of furniture - pieces sitting by themselves away from a wall. If, for instance, the sofa is floating in front of the fireplace, anchor it by placing a console table behind it. Leave the table free of tall accessories such as flower arrangements, which would work better as fillers beside an armchair.

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