Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tinkering with our living room layout

Ah, our living room. Someday, I hope, I will be satisfied with it. For now, it continues to feel not quite right. If you've been reading a while, you know that the elephant in the room is our modern black sectional. There's nothing wrong with it in general, but it's just not the look I want in this room. Here's the way the living room looked the last time you saw it:

A well-respected local interior designer recommended the sofa for us, as well as the room layout, which pins the sofa against the wall. It works, but the chairs by the window always felt a little far away from the sofa. (The chairs are also too small, but that's another story.)

The Mr. has agreed that if I sell our current sofa for a reasonable price, I can look for a replacement. I worry that Craigslist buyers aren't looking for sofas in the price range I want to sell, so that is one concern. It doesn't hurt to try, though! But ... before I can sell, I need to have an idea of what I would replace it with. We spend the majority of our time in this room, and so we can't go without a sofa for too long!

In a room with a fireplace focal point (like ours), I've always liked two identical sofas flanking the fireplace. It might work in our room, but since two sofas is an investment, I would need to be sure the layout would work for us before I could take the plunge. So how could I test it out? I separated the two parts of our sectional and placed them across from each other in the room.

In new layout #1, I placed the chairs across from the fireplace, perpendicular to the sofas.

Layout #1 was very boxy and the only way to enter the room was in the small opening on either side of the chairs. I wondered if I could do better.

For layout #2, I split the chairs apart a bit, placing them on the diagonal at the end of each sofa. That left a walking space between the two chairs.

The two sides of the room aren't exactly symmetric because the sofa piece on the left is shorter than the piece on the right. It's a little distracting, but keep in mind that this layout is just a test to see what might work for us in the future. I don't plan on keeping our sectional pulled apart like this forever.

So far I like the flow and I like that the sofa is pulled off the wall on the right side of the room. I'm going to bring down a sofa table to put behind it, but haven't gotten that far yet.

If you're an eagle-eye, you might have noticed a white leather bench in front of the fireplace in layout #2. I got the bench as a gift from The Mr., and haven't decided on its final resting place. It was purchased for our bedroom, but there are a few different ways we could use it in the living room, too.

I also tried a third layout, which was floating the sofa directly across from the fireplace. It was too wide to provide a good walkway into the room, and it cut off the room too much. In this room, it might work with a loveseat, but not a full-size sofa. (I actually tried this layout first, but didn't take photos, and I wasn't about to move all that heavy furniture around again just to snap a photo of a layout I didn't like anyway!)

Now I need your opinion on the living room layout. I know photos aren't the same as being in the room, but do you have any thoughts or suggestions? I'm open to ideas!


P.S. Please don't mind the horrible photos and the junk around the perimeter of the room! I was just snapping quickly during the rearranging.


  1. I prefer the second layout, at least there is enough space to walk into the sofa area.
    I would buy your sectional sofa if you were close by, I would love one for my TV room.

    1. It's a great sofa, and I'm sure there are people locally who would want it ... just not sure they're willing to pay the price. We bought it through an interior designer's, but they sell the same one at Design Within Reach. We paid less than that, but DWR is not common for our area and I'm afraid most people looking for a used leather sofa won't be interested in paying that much! But I'm a pessimist, so hopefully it will go better than I expect!

  2. In the meantime, why does the sectional have to be against the wall? Why not pull it away from the wall, in about the same position as the "sofa" on the right... Then you'll have the sectional perpendicular to the fireplace, and the "L" section will be across from the fireplace. Pull the two chairs out from the windows side-by-side where the other "sofa" is.
    You still have a "U" shape seating area, but it's not symetrical, so won't seem to be so boxy.

    It would be something different until you're sure about the two sofas.
    Just a thought.

    1. I considered it, but never tried it. I'm not sure the room is wide enough, because it will force entry into the room to be farther to the left (and more narrow), but it's worth a try!

  3. I like the 2nd layout but have to agree with janmadeit! And you know me, I like my symmetry but I think if you have to work with the sofa you've got now for the time being, it could work. I like the first layout but I think the little table between the chairs would need to go to give it more breathing room...? Otherwise, how about having one sofa on the right, the chairs on the left and have a big tufted bench or daybed in the middle facing the fireplace? This way, it wouldn't be like this big 'wall' of sofa in front of you and you'd still have extra seating. And you wouldn't have to buy two sofas :) xxx

    1. Help me understand where you are picturing the tufted bench or daybed. Do you mean where I have the set of chairs in option #1? If I stick with chairs opposite the sofa, I need to make sure they are big and cozy (but not tacky big). Our current chairs I bought online, and they are much more diminuative than I expected. (Oops ... did not pay attention to the stated measurements. Learning lesson!)

  4. I like both, but the second one better. But I'm thinking about functionality. Do you actually spend time watching TV in there? Would the angled chairs be awkward for viewing? I would want a couple of comfy spots with direct viewing of the television. If you like to lie on the couch to watch TV, that would work. I would love to see a picture of jammadeit's suggestion, which I think might look good as well as putting some of the comfy sofa directly across from the TV (and the fireplace if you use that).

    1. Yes, we watch TV in there every day. The angled chairs are not awkward at all, actually, for TV viewing. In our old layout, one of us would sit on the section of the sofa that faces the TV, and put his/her legs up on the coffee table. The other would either sit on the other part of the sofa (against the wall) and turn to watch the TV, or sit in the corner, facing the TV. If we have a third person, he/she usually sits in one of the chairs, which currently aren't cozy.

      I might have to try Jane's suggestion too, although I'm doubting that the room is wide enough to pull the sectional out from the wall like that and still leave enough walking room. We shall see!

  5. Hi, I have been oogling at your living room for a while. My living room is shaped much like yours and I totally feel your pain! What are the dimensions of your living room? I have such a hard time making my living room look cozy and cute. When it's cute it's not cozy, and when it's cozy it's not cute. Right now I have NO furniture until I figure it out. haha

    1. Oh my ... so sorry it took me forever to get back to you ... this comment got buried in my inbox! My living room is 17 W x 13 D. Hopefully you've got your own room all set up by now, or at least liveable! If you haven't already seen it, check out part 2 of this post, which shows a bunch of different layouts I did with our existing furniture.


  6. You have a beautiful home! I love how you've personalized the space. You have a gorgeous house! bean bag


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