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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Successful room makeovers: getting the best furniture layout

Updated: Jun 11

marble side table and grey chair

Today’s post is a quick whiz around room layouts and optimal furniture placement and how to get them right, or put them right if something isn’t currently working for you.

I’ve set up a little corner of my blog where I will save all the room makeover info. That will include before and afters, all the room makeover blog posts and a mini-series (Of which this is the first one) looking at the key principles of a successful room makeover that can be applied to any and all projects.

Getting the best furniture layout

Choosing the best room layout is an important step in the room makeover process. It means looking at the practical side of things because, let's face it, we are dealing with real life here and not styling an image for Instagram -you know the daft pics I mean where random things have been dragged into shot to look pretty but you'd clearly trip over them in real life - and don't get me started with those staircase pics with all manner of items 'styled' on the stairs - hello trip hazard! : ) If it's not practical, it won't work and you'll have to start from scratch again soon.

Before you get into the details of planning a room scheme, you need to take a step back and look at the space as a whole and also how it fits into the rest of the house.

If you don't properly assess the room's needs, it doesn't matter how pretty it looks or how perfectly the shelves are styled; it won't work for you overall and you won't be happy.

My advice for getting the best furniture layout is to produce a brief for each project and here's how…

presentation slide from Claire Douglas Styling's online course

Use the questions and thinking points in the slide to help to decide on the room's requirements and then write as much down as you can, really thinking about how you want the space to feel and work. The info you produce becomes your brief that you can refer back to during the next stage.

PS: I mean ACTUALLY write them down as this helps you process it all. The questions are a snapshot of a slide taken from one of the presentations in the home styling sections of my online course, which you can buy separately as a mini-course for under a tenner.

Once you’ve documented the answers to the above about the room you are making over, you’ll hopefully be thinking much more clearly about what it is you hope to achieve and the steps you need to take. You’ll be focused on how you want to use the room and who needs to use it, which will dictate how much and what type of furniture you need to include.

Top tips for setting the best layout for a room

Sometimes, it's helpful to step back at this point, especially if this is a room you've lived in for a while.

  • Rather than lugging furniture around or being tempted to stick to the usual set-up. Measure the space and the furniture you have and sketch out a plan - cut out the larger pieces of furniture to scale and move them around your plan, trying different options. Once you are happy, then try the real thing.

  • Place the largest piece of furniture first and work around it with the remaining pieces, thinking about how they would be used.

  • Convenience is key. In a bedroom, position bedside tables on each side of the bed in easy reach for essential items and ideally, position a lamp or light within reach too.

  • Don't place furniture too close to doors; allow for the full swing of the door to open.

  • Ensure you can get behind a sofa that is positioned in front of a window to allow you to pull the curtains or blinds.

  • In a living room where you plan to host guests for coffee and conversation, place sofas and armchairs facing each other and not too far apart. Consider where people will place mugs or glasses and allow for occasional tables if you don’t have room for permanent side tables.

  • In a TV room or snug, position each seat facing the television and don’t put the TV too high on the wall.

  • Pulling furniture away from the walls helps air circulation (& prevents condensation and mould) on external walls but also helps the room layout feel considered (I know it's tempting to push everything against the wall to reveal a large expanse of floor, thinking it will make the room feel bigger but it's not the best way to go.) Interior designers call this ‘floating’ the furniture and it does work.

  • Aim to create a focal point in the room, this will depend entirely on what you plan to do in the room, in a living room or snug, the focal point should be the TV, in a garden room the view might be the star of the show.

Let me know if any of these tips were helpful and I'd love to see some of your room makeovers. I've just written a piece about small front porch ideas on a budget if you are looking for porch inspo!

neutral sofa in cream coloured room

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