Where should a couch go in a living room with a fireplace? For cozy luxury

3 questions to ask yourself to create a space that is balanced, cozy, and not cramped

fireplace hero with three images
(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside / Yoshihiro Makino, Courtesy of Assembledge)

Getting toasty by the fireplace is one of the best parts of hibernation season, and to have a fireplace in the living room is a blessing. However, there is a chance you do not feel that way if you are still unsure as to where the couch should go in a living room with a fireplace...

To keep the room feeling cozy, not cramped, open, and inviting, you want to position furniture and seating in a way that will let the most beautiful of fireplace ideas come into their own. Take our word for it, your options are not limited, and a room that feels convivial and ready both for entertaining and hunkering down is well within reach.

Where should you put your couch in a living room with a fireplace?

Knowing where to place a sofa for good Feng Shui can feel like enough of a predicament, whether you are working with lots of room or limited square footage. Add a fireplace into the equation and some might be overwhelmed. Interior designer, Soledad Alzaga notes: 'The placement of a couch in a living room with a fireplace depends on the size and shape of the room and where the fireplace is located.' 

Here are three design questions you can ask yourself when making living room fireplace ideas work for you, and your couch:

Soledad Alzaga
Soledad Alzaga

San Francisco-based Interior designer Soledad Alzaga has worked on designs projects in San Francisco, Sonoma, Atherton, New York, Martha's Vineyard, Los Angeles, Mexico and Argentina.

1. Is the focal point right?

Fireplace ideas for living rooms

Photography/Paul Raeside

(Image credit: Future)

A fireplace will act as a natural focal point in a living room, but it is not always so simple when pairing it with large pieces of furniture, like a sofa. In a particularly large space, you want to encourage the eye towards it even more, which can be done with the couch and other living room seating placement. 

'In a large living room, place your couch parallel and facing the fireplace for a clear view. If you have additional seating, like matching chairs, you can arrange them symmetrically with the couch centered on the fireplace,' suggests Alzaga.

'Don’t forget that a major mistake is putting a wrong emphasis on the “focal point” of the room,' says Artem Kropovinsky, interior design expert and founder of award-winning studio, Arsight. 'If the fireplace is central, then arrange the couch to face it directly and make the room more comfortable.'

Putting the focus on balance is key, especially in a smaller space David Thompson, AIA Principal and Founder of Assembledge+ tells H&G: 'The key to placing a sofa in a snug space with a fireplace is having a keen eye for visual balance. Whether your sofa faces the fireplace or cozies up to its side, it needs other pieces to complement it. Pairing it with a couple of chic chairs or an eye-catching floor lamp will help to subtly guide attention toward the heart of the room, the fireplace.'

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and the founder of Arsight, a global award-winning design firm with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial interior design. With a cohesive team of professionals, Arsight specializes in tackling complex projects, including new constructions, complete residential renovations, restaurants, and retail stores. Their designs embrace authenticity and originality, utilizing natural materials and handcrafted elements for a unique and cohesive aesthetic.

 David Thompson, AIA Principal and Founder of Assembledge+
David Thompson

Since its inception, Assembledge+ has steadfastly pursued an architectural vision rooted in a dedication to collaborative efforts and craftsmanship. Founded and spearheaded by David Thompson, AIA, the name Assembledge+ was purposefully chosen to encapsulate the firm’s zeal for “assembling” the often-intricate components of the design process.

The creation of lasting environments, developed with a sense of responsibility, stands as a defining aspect of the firm’s design ethos. This is achieved through the implementation of sustainable strategies, the crafting of adaptable sequences of highly functional enclosed and open spaces, and the dissolution of boundaries between interior and exterior realms.

2. Can you see the mantel and enjoy the hearth?

Tiled fireplace hearth in modern living room with cream couch opposite and more seating for balance

(Image credit: Yoshihiro Makino, Courtesy of Assembledge)

It is the heart of the home for a reason, as well as being cozy, a fireplace is a sight to be enjoyed. To ensure that all mantel styling or hearth decorating efforts are well received, they must not be hidden. This will influence not just where you place the couch, but also how large you make your seating arrangement. 

'One key area of consideration is the arrangement of the couch in relation to the fireplace, a focal point that often serves as the heart of the room. The size of both the couch and the fireplace should be carefully considered to achieve a harmonious balance in the room,' says Design Director Niko Rasides.

'If you have a large, grand fireplace, it's essential to complement it with a substantial couch to avoid the visual imbalance that can result from pairing a petite sofa with an imposing hearth,' 

'If your fireplace has a mantelpiece, take it into account when placing the couch. Ensure that the mantel is visible and not obscured, as it is often an area for displaying decor items that contribute to the overall aesthetic.'

Nicholas Anthony
Niko Rasides

Niko Rasides is the design director of Nicholas Anthony, a family-run business founded in the UK in 1963, specializing in the design and installation of high-end, ultra-contemporary as well as classic and traditional kitchens, bathrooms and home interiors.

3. Could it be on a corner angle?

living room with blue accents

(Image credit: Future / Richard Powers)

For visual balance and harmony, see if you may be able to approach your space a little differently. 

'If the fireplace is located in a corner, or off-centered in the room, you can place the couch at an angle in the opposite corner or create an L-shaped seating arrangement. This way you can maximize the space and create a cozy seating area around the fireplace,' says Alzaga.

Unique home styling often comes down to emphasizing the quirks of a home, in the most marvelous of ways. It could simply be that you would prefer a sectional in the living room too.

'The symmetry or asymmetry of the room can influence how you position your couch in relation to the fireplace. In symmetrical spaces, a central placement of the couch directly facing the fireplace often works well. In contrast, asymmetrical rooms may benefit from a more dynamic arrangement, such as placing the couch at an angle to the fireplace or incorporating additional seating options for a balanced look. While aesthetics are essential, don't forget about the functionality of the room. Ensure that the placement of the couch allows for convenient access to the fireplace, especially if it's in use during colder months.'

Keep some boundaries in place, of course, using an angle, if anything, should clear walkways, not block them, and though this should not arise in this particular scenario, you should never put your sofa in front of a window either. Thompson adds how this can help keep a sense of openness in even snug rooms: 

'Steer clear of placing large furniture pieces in front of light-filled windows which help to expand the room’s feel. Should the layout necessitate this placement, opt for low-backed furniture and position it slightly away from the windows to maintain outward views.'


Where should a couch go in a small living room with a fireplace?

So long as the space looks balanced, a sofa could go directly opposite, or at a corner angle facing towards a fireplace. Depending on how little room you have, see how additional seating can enhance it as a focal point.  

To elevate a small living space further, choose your sofa design with care and select surrounding colors that will complement your fireplace. 'Elevate the fireplace as a focal point in the room by adding texture. Using fired clay tiles, thin brick, or a Venetian plaster finish on the face of the fireplace can draw focus and add charm,' suggests Thompson.

'Embrace a neutral palette for upholstery finishes. Think creamy hues, deep charcoals, or classic navy blues. These colors help freshen up a space, especially in smaller areas where intricate patterns might overpower the room’s aesthetic.'

Kropovinsky notes that you want to keep a fair amount of distance between the sofa and the fireplace: 'To compensate for this balance, combine a light-colored couch with the grand fireplace. In smaller rooms, a couch should be pushed a little away so that it is not close and the room does not feel too small.'

How big should your couch be in a room with a fireplace?

As expected, go for a large couch when you have a beautiful big fireplace in the room: 'Consider a big couch for harmony in rooms powered by a strong fireplace,' says Kropovinsky. 

'Go for a slimmer and sleeker couch with a little fireplace.' Otherwise, you risk a power imbalance and a space that feels out of proportion.

'Ensure that the couch design blends nicely with the style of the fireplace-classic couches are in synch with traditional fireplaces, and sleek, minimal designs mesh easily with contemporary fireplaces.'

Where shouldn't you put a couch in a living room?

Above all else, the living room must be functional: 'Placing a couch directly in the way of the entrance to the living room or creating a cramped walkway around the furniture can lead to a sense of discomfort,' Rasides warns us.

Always keep a little clearance around seating arrangements and never place soft furnishings close to a fireplace (especially if open) for safety. 

'Functionality comes first, make sure that there is room for free movement around the couch as well as the fireplace,' adds Kropovinsky.

Keep visual balance, safety, and function in mind when choosing the best location for your sofa in a living room with a fireplace.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including house tours, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and during a year abroad studying linguistics and history of art in Bologna, Italy she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille is always creating and spends her downtime painting, taking photos, traveling, and writing short stories.