Our selection of the very best living room layout ideas include traditional and modern layouts to suit every home's size and style – and we have included a ton of added-value design advice, too.
So whether your living room design is open-plan, family-focused, a shared home office space or on the small side, there is a layout to suit your lounge.
Living room layout ideas
Practicality is key for living room ideas, and the layout you select should not only be able to accommodate your lifestyle, but enhance it. These expert living room design tips should meet your needs – and make the most of your existing space.
1. Go for an entirely bespoke living room layout
If you’re lucky enough to be building a modern living room from scratch, you’ll have significant flexibility in terms of the living room layout and design – but it is also possible to transform an existing interior. A floor-to-ceiling bank of shelving, housing beautiful books, curios and artwork, lends a contemporary look and can be successfully paired with a living room fireplace – perhaps oversized to anchor the space.
2. Keep walls free in a small living room layout
Give an awkward or small living room space to breathe by moving furniture away from the walls.
Pulling your living room furniture away from the walls, even by just a couple of inches, creates breathing space that will make your room appear more spacious. Be sure to select living room seating that is in proportion to the size of your space – oversized sofas and chairs can make a small room feel too narrow.
3. Cozy up in a large room
Bring your living room seating closer together in a large or open-plan living room to make the room feel more intimate. If your living space is generous enough, create multiple seating areas rather than just the one to help divide up the room.
'Plan seating in groups to ensure conversation flows,' says interior designer Nina Campbell. This living room layout is great for intimate conversation, informal entertaining and compact spaces.
4. Direct the flow of traffic
In an open-plan living space, pull the sofa away from the wall – and use its back to create a hallway or walkway – so traffic is directed behind a seating area rather than through it. Alternatively, use the area behind a sofa to add extra storage such as a shelving unit or bookcase, either up against the wall, or butted up to the back of the sofa.
5. Plan your living room layout around a key feature
Design your layout around a focal point or key design feature. If your living room has no natural focal point – create one. A pair of statement chairs – or, a one-of-a-kind sofa – will do the trick. Pull out one color from the furniture fabric – and, use as the wall paint, curtain fabric or artwork – for a unified feel.
6. Play with scale
Using scale in interior design will introduce unparalleled drama to a scheme.
Playing with your living room proportions has the power to make a large space feel cozy and intimate, but upscaling can also make a small room feel a whole lot bigger than it really is, and of course a super-sized feature will add instant impact.
Upscaling can be done simply – with a piece of furniture, as show here – or it can be created with a more complicated approach, with wallpaper or tiles.
7. Make a long living room layout look wider
If you have a long living room, then you’ll be more than aware of the tricky task of making it look wider than it actually is, while desperately trying to turn that awkward living room layout into something sophisticated.
To negate a confined look, try to avoid arranging all your furniture on one side of the narrow wall. By alternating furniture groupings – or by utilizing the middle of the rectangular layout better – it will effectively force the traffic flow to take on an 'S' shape – and stop the area looking too straight, much like an entrance.
8. Enhance a sense of space in an open-plan living room
An open-plan living room offers versatility for the way we live today, and are great for family homes, so figuring out how to design a living room is vital. After all, 'the main motivation for creating an open-plan living space is to be more sociable,’ says Robert Burnett of Holloways of Ludlow.
Open-plan schemes often have a number of activities that take place within them, so it’s firstly it is important to identify an area for each one.
Use a sofa to mark out the boundary of a seating area in a multi-purpose space. L-shaped designs are a great tool to create a more intimate zone within a larger area, especially if it is one that also incorporates a kitchen or home office.
9. Provide a walk-through space
In an open-plan living room with a kitchen, dining area or home office, you'll want to work with your interior designer to achieve a logical flow through the space.
Zoning an open-plan space room into distinct areas is a popular technique that can help maintain order in a family living room. Aim to establish similar materials, shapes and colors across the entire space to visually unite the room.
A route to the garden that passes in front of the TV or dining space will quickly prove unpopular, as will any layout that interferes with someone who is working from home.
‘An L-shaped sofa, island unit or long table can be a real saviour in an open-plan design, as it aids traffic flow and provides the perfect link between the kitchen and living areas,’ adds Andrew Hayes of Smallbone of Devizes.
10. Supersize an apartment living room
Though it can be challenging to find the right apartment living room ideas for studios and flats, there are several benefits to compact living. One of the main advantages is the convenient accessibility of everything that’s needed.
If your apartment has a great view, arrange furniture to show enhance it. This might mean that you ditch the classic living room layout for a more unconventional or modern arrangement, but it will be worth the compromise. Choose furniture that works well with a small layout – armless sofas and chairs, for example, won't interrupt the sight lines. Plus, opt for built-in small living room storage ideas or fitted shelving and cabinets wherever you can.
How do I design a living room layout?
To avoid any costly living room design mistakes, the first step is to think carefully about how you move within the space.
The key to a successful living room is to be exceptionally well organized. In a compact space, utilise dual-purpose furniture that not only looks and feels luxurious, but provides ample storage inside.
Open up the space as much as possible to allow for comfortable circulation. Every centimetre of a living room has to be cleverly utilized, so that it doesn’t look cluttered, yet provides a functional layout with optimized storage.
'It’s always effective to use a palette of light colors, but in different materials and textures,' says interior designer Irina Townsend, Keir Townsend.
'A common misperception is that the less furniture you have in the space, the bigger it will look. But in fact, multiple zones and features create a perception of different 'areas' within one room. It’s all about finding the right furniture size, the right color palette, and the right lighting.'
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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