How to Choose Living Room Furniture

Two Methods:Making PlansPicking Pieces

Whether living on your own or with a family, your living room is an important space. This room is where your family spends time together, and it is the room most of your guests will spend the majority of their time in. Choosing furniture that creates a pleasant, welcoming appearance while holding up against the wear and tear of everyday life is the key in getting this space to work for your needs.

Method 1
Making Plans

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    Take measurements. Use a tape measure, yardstick, or meter stick to measure the length and width of your room. Also account for the dimensions of any alcoves or other recessed spaces in the room.
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    Create a floor plan. You can use formal grid paper, but you can also sketch it out on notebook paper or plain printer paper. Determine how much space you can spare for furniture and sketch out a few different ways that furniture can fit into the room. You should also factor in at least one yard (1 meter) of free space in between pieces of furniture. Anything smaller than that will make you feel as though you have to squeeze in between your furniture as you walk.
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    Check your doorways. Measure how wide your doorways are to prevent potential delivery mishaps. You do not want to purchase a piece of furniture only to discover that you cannot get it into your house.
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    Stage your living room. After determining how much space you can spare for furniture and where you want potential pieces to go, mark those spaces on the floor to get a better visual. Use painter's tape or spread out sheets of newspaper.
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    Think about how the room will be used. If your living room will act as a daily family hangout, you will need sturdy, stain-resistant furniture, especially if your kids are still young. On the other hand, if your living room will only entertain the occasional guest, you can opt for more fragile pieces made with delicate fabrics.
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    Note the room's natural architecture. Some rooms contain built-in design elements that may help you determine the type of furniture that will look best inside the room. For instance, if you have a rustic fireplace, cabin d├ęcor may be a better option than stark modern furniture. Modern furniture may be the best option for a living room of an apartment with a view overlooking the city, however.

Method 2
Picking Pieces

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    Start with the basics. Most living rooms contain a sofa, armchair, side table, and coffee table. Look for these basic elements before adding extra pieces such as ottomans and additional tables.
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    Buy investment pieces. Look for solid furniture with sturdy wood frames and sinuous steel springs. High-quality pieces may cost a little more, but they tend to hold up better and last longer.
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    Look for high-quality, stain-resistant fabrics. Luxurious, high-quality materials will keep you feeling more comfortable and tend to last longer than cheaper fabrics. Stain-resistant fabrics are especially useful if you have young children, but they might still be a good idea even if you only plan on using the space for guests since spills and stains can happen to anyone.
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    Look for cushions made of wrapped foam. Foam is comfortable and durable. Some cushions may be filled with down, but down usually breaks and wears quickly.
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    Test the strength of the frame. Lift one leg of the piece about six inches (15 centimeters) off the floor. If the adjacent leg has not risen as well, the frame is too flexible and too flimsy.
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    Coordinate your pieces. Each piece of furniture in your living room should complement the others. Otherwise, your room will look chaotic and thrown together. If you have an interior design theme, such as modern or traditional, stick with pieces that fit with your theme.
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    Know your themes. There are a number of ways to divide up interior design themes, but the main ones often include modern, contemporary, traditional, casual, and Old World.
    • Modern and contemporary furniture has sleek, clean lines and usually makes use of white, beige, or other neutral colors. Glass, metal, and shiny black lacquer are used more often than traditional woods.
    • Traditional furniture is elegant. It tends to look a little more formal and may include details like rolled arms and skirted bottoms. Colors range from ivory to rich hues of red and other colors.
    • Casual furniture is friendly and cozy. Many pieces make use of plaid, small prints, and other patterns.
    • Old World furniture combines styles from French, Spanish, and Italian designs. Rustic, antique pieces are especially appropriate, and you should look for deep, earthy colors.
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    Opt for a loveseat instead of a sofa if you have a smaller space. Loveseats typically provide seating for two individuals. If you have a small family or only intend to use the space for entertaining an occasional guest, a loveseat could save you space while providing you with as much as you need.
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    Fill the room in with additional pieces as space allows. Chests, flat-top ottomans, and extra tables or seating can add a lot to a large living room, but too many of these pieces will crowd out a smaller space.


  • Do not allow your accessories to overrun the space. A few conversation pieces, such as an interesting painting or a glass-front armoire to show off a collection of glass bells or teacups, can personalize your living room. Too many of these pieces can make the room seem too busy, though, and less inviting as a result.
  • Avoid mistakes by getting samples. Ask for fabric swatches and paint cards to determine how well certain pieces and colors coordinate with one another. This may cost additional time and money, but the effort will be well worth it and will help prevent you from making the costly mistake of blindly purchasing poorly-matched furniture.
  • Measure multiple times. It is absolutely necessary that you know the exact, precise measurements of your space, as well as the ideal dimensions of potential furniture. Otherwise, you may end up purchasing pieces that do not actually fit inside your living room.
  • Pick paint colors, flooring, and finishing details that coordinate with your choice of furniture. For example, stick with neutral white walls if you opt for modern furniture, or lay an ornate Oriental rug on your floor if you have a more traditional or Old World set-up.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • yardstick
  • Grid paper
  • Scratch pad
  • Pencil
  • Painter's tape
  • Newspaper
  • Couch
  • Loveseat
  • Armchairs
  • End tables
  • Coffee table
  • Ottoman

Article Info

Categories: Furniture and Cabinets