Dear Gail: We’ve just moved into a new home and we’re stumped on how to arrange the furniture in our living and family rooms. My husband just wants me to put everything where it was in our old house, but I’d like a new look and mix things up. Where do I start? — Monet
Dear Monet: I definitely agree with you — new home, new look — especially if you can use what you currently have. To make it easier for you, I’m going to break it down into six steps.
1) Completely empty both rooms. I know this is a lot of work, but essential in getting a new look. Just like an artist, you need to start with a blank canvas and not see your things where they were before.
Place your lamps, artwork and accessories in another room so they can be out of the way. Group like items together and artwork by size. Don’t put them in the same groupings you had before.
2) Imagine how you want to use each room. I’ll assume you’re going to watch TV in the family room, but I have placed the TV in a living room. It was a larger room and my client wanted to host big football parties.
Ignore the labels placed on the rooms. By knowing how you’re going to use the room will dictate how much seating you’ll need as well as which pieces. I believe every room should be used instead of being a showcase, except of course if you have a massive house and more rooms than you know what to do with.
When growing up, my girlfriend’s mother actually had their living room roped off; no kidding, it was only used on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course we did sneak in one day and felt like royalty.
2) What is the focal point in the room? The TV is obvious so you’ll place your largest piece of furniture across from it. This is where I would start with changing things out, switch the sofas in the rooms. Other focal points are fireplaces, windows with a view, architectural features or a stunning piece of furniture.
Also look at the lines in your room. This is easiest to do by looking down at the floor and baseboards. Do you have any angled walls, floor tiles set on a diagonal, or does your carpet and tile meet on a diagonal?
Always work with the angles in the room versus against them. Don’t be afraid to place your furniture on an angle. It’s what will give your room a new look and more interesting than before.
3) Place the next upholstery pieces. If you have a sofa and loveseat, place them on a right angle to each other. If you have occasional chairs, switch these up. Chairs also can be placed on a right angle, one on each side, or across from the sofa.
Chairs should be no more than 8 feet from the primary piece. Otherwise they’re considered a separate seating area.
Try to avoid pushing all the furniture against the wall. If possible angle the arrangement in the room.
4) Now, break up your coffee and side table sets. Place the opposite coffee table with the sofa. Then mix the side tables around. Remember everything doesn’t have to be a set. It’s more interesting if you mix and match them.
5) Your artwork placement can really change out your room. Don’t just look at the art you had in the living and family room, but all the art in your house. Recently a client moved and I broke the wall gallery I did at their last house into three new ones.
If you had single pieces of the walls, look to see if you can do a grouping of pieces. It doesn’t have to be large, even three pieces grouped together will give you a whole new look.
6) Accessories are the final touches and can bring a room to life. Pull out your favorite pieces and place the others in secondary rooms. Now treat yourself to a couple new pieces.
This is a wonderful way to introduce a new accent color. Look at your art for inspiration and pick one you’ve never used before.
Now, Monet, step back and enjoy your new rooms. You’ll be surprised and amazed how different they’ll look and you may not even remember how they looked before.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to: GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.