There are a number of factors that go into a well decorated room with furniture being one of the key factors in that equation. Furniture needs to be methodically picked out and placed taking the room’s elements, focal point and design style in mind. Violating any of these principles using furniture incorrectly can make or break a well good design.
1. The furniture is too matchy matchy
Some homeowners go to the big box stores and buy the 3 seater sofa, the love seat AND the matching chair. To top it off, they will buy the coffee table and matching end tables that are on display with the couch set. These pieces of furniture are all very nice, but when they’re ALL the same and you’re using them ALL together, your room looks more like an ad for a big box store than your family or living room where you want it to reflect your family’s personality and lifestyle.
You need to mix it up a little. There’s nothing wrong with a big box store 3 seater couch but buy a love seat or two accent chairs in a pattern or different color of fabric as shown in our picture above.
Buying all your furniture in the same style like a love seat, a three seater couch, the matching armchair plus the recommended coffee table & side tables makes your room look like an advertisement for a big box store. This gives your room zero personality and does not reflect your style and taste. There can be some great finds in big box stores without a designer price tag, but the secret in buying items from big box stores is to buy items that look like they came from a higher end furniture store, like a white 3 seater couch for example, and purchase accent chairs and tables from boutique stores that reflect your design personality.
Related Read: The #1 Decorating Mistake Most Homeowners Make
2. Wrong type of furniture for the style of the room
The furniture needs to reflect the style of the home. For example, if you have a very contemporary home, your furniture should be along these lines. A more traditional home? The sleek white leather couch will look out of place here. It doesn’t mean you need to have grandma’s furniture in a traditional home, but there are alot of transitional options that would look nice.
In our home on the right, the style of the home is very contemporary with the light walls and potlights in the ceiling. The sofa is contemporary, however the orange leather chair, rug and the Oriental wall art do not reflect the style of the couch. This room is missing something to tie together these two different styles.
3. Too much or too little furniture for the room
Homeowners that entertain alot or have big families tend to put way too much furniture in a room for the size of the room which we see in the photo above blocking hallways and traffic patterns. It may suit their purposes of seating alot of people but the room looks stuffed full of furniture, and it actually makes the room look smaller than it actually is.
On the other hand, too little furniture makes a room look sparse and uninviting like the picture on our right. Two accent chairs or a small love seat opposite the sofa would create more of a conversation piece and fill the room. Also, the room is lacking accessories, a coffee table, and an area rug which makes the space feel cold.
Sometimes homeowners are using furniture that perhaps is a hand-me-down or was used in a different home or space and is still in good shape. But just because your furniture is in good shape means doesn’t meant that you should be using it in the room. Choosing the right furniture will help solve your seating problems and make your living or family room be warm and inviting.
4. The furniture is out of proportion for the size of the room
The height and size of the furniture must not only co-ordinate each other, it must complement the elements of the room for a cohesive look. In the picture above, the low leather couch against the tall railing sandwiched between the two high back chairs, one that looks like it belongs to a giant, gives this room an unsettled and unbalanced look. Not too mention that there are too many different design styles to the furniture and the one wing-backed chair blocking the fireplace – the focal point in the room. There is nothing that ties this room together so it feels like all the pieces belong together. Also there is too much furniture for the size of this room which makes this room feel squished and small. This room above is a good example where the homeowner needs to start over to get the furniture that would suit this room.
In our first picture below, we see two design principals being violated. Firstly the couch is definitely out of proportion for the size of the room. It is not only far too big for the size of this dining room, it absolutely dwarfs the space. The second principal that is being violated is the couch blocks the doorway and cuts off the entrance to the living room as you can see it poking out above the couch. There must be another entrance into the living room, but the better option would have been here is a bench on the far side of the dining room table to make the space feel less crowded and more inviting.
5. Furniture blocks the traffic pattern
We see another blocking violation in the picture below with the hallway.
Yes, this 7′ hallway is just that. A hallway! Yet is has the dining room table which belongs in the eat-in kitchen area, and the big leather couch BLOCKS the entrance from the hallway into the living room. Remove the table, and replacing the oversized couch with two smaller accent chairs would give this family the seating they need plus make the house flow from room to room more efficient.
You should leave a 36″ walkway in a major traffic flow area clear of any furniture for people to walk through one room to another. It is NEVER a good idea to block traffic flow. Different furniture and furniture layouts are better options than blocking traffic flow!
Breaking any of the above principles as it applies to your furniture, will leave your room feeling off balanced and unsettled. Putting these principles into shape will give you a relaxing and cohesive space where you, your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.
I help busy homeowners, just like you, to style their house to make it a stunning retreat, where they can live and enjoy their home. I help homeowners, make money beyond their wildest expectations from the sale of their house by guiding them when they’re getting their house ready to sell.
Hi! I’m Debi Collinson. Home Stylist. Stager. Color Consultant. Real Estate Investor. It all started back in 2006, at the request of a realtor, where I nervously staged my very first home. But the sellers liked their newly styled home so much that they turned down an offer for full asking price. I went back to design school and the rest is history.
In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently living in my 8th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time!