How to Choose Living Room Furniture

Amber Lewis

Learn how to plan out and choose the perfect furniture for your living room with these great tips from Amber Lewis.

Some of you may have read my last article -- How to Coordinate Living Room Colors. Well, I wrote it and then realized that all you designer dorks might need help picking out the actual furniture. So, here I am again -- ya’ll can’t get rid of me yet!

Some of you may think it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 to pick out furniture for your living room, but think again. It’s not a simple task! There’s no way you can pick a piece that fits perfectly without planning the space before you purchase. A lot of people don’t know the process of an interior designer, but it’s a true science. I wish it was as simple as it looks, but holy moly it’s not. So, here starts my steps to picking furniture for your living room space...

    Measure Your Living Room

  1. This whole process doesn’t have to be boring. First, take out your tools and put on some snazzy tunes to get you in a creative mindset! All you need to do here is measure the length and width of the room and record these numbers in your notebook. Reminder to note where doors and windows are positioned so you don’t place furniture in front of these areas in the next step.

  2. Next, take a piece of your graphing paper and plot the space out. Since you probably don’t have an architectural ruler handy, just do one box per one foot of space. Now you should have a small version of the room drafted on the graph paper. Don’t forget to plot doors and windows in scale as well. It's also important to note which way each door opens. Now, take this plan and make a few copies of it.

  3. Plot Out Your Furniture

  4. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert drafter or designer here, I promise. On multiple layouts, start planning out your space. First, search around for a couch to purchase, and based on its dimensions, see how it fits in your space. Then choose your coffee table, side tables, and side chairs that fit into the space as well. Draft each piece onto the floor plan and see how each works in the space provided.

  5. Make sure you have at least 16 inches of clearance between the coffee table and the furniture surrounding it. Also, three feet around the living area for clearance is preferable so the space doesn’t feel crowded.

  6. Tip

    Another option for this step would be making little cut-outs of your furniture pieces and using only one floor plan to plot them out. Just move the cut-outs around to arrange different furniture layouts and take a picture of each. Then revisit them in the end and pick your favorite.

  7. Then, when all is planned out, take your painter's tape and tape down the layout in the living space. This will be the true test to see if everything works.

  8. Think About Your Options

  9. It’s simple to pick one line of furniture that fits together, but in the end, it won’t look very interesting. Think about putting different pieces together. If your sofa leans mid-century with skinny dowel legs, opt for a chunkier coffee table rather than a minimalist one. You don’t want all your pieces to seem like they’re floating in space or too chunky. I think that West Elm has great case goods options, whether it's a coffee table or a great side table.

  10. Also, when deciding on furniture, you should never skimp of the pieces that you will use most often. I can’t stress enough that comfortable, well-constructed sofas are worth the splurge! If you buy a cheap sofa, you’ll just have to buy another one in a couple years time. It’s best to splurge on a sofa from a trustworthy vendor. When it comes to sofas, you cannot go wrong with a good 'ole Restoration Hardware -- they have everything you need.

  11. Keep in mind, if the sofa is for a family room that you’ll be using for lounging, you’ll definitely want a deeper depth -- around 41 inches -- instead of the standard 36 to 38 inches. I especially like this one, if you're looking for more depth.

  12. Another great source to find living room furniture is One Kings Lane. I just recently fell in love with these leather chairs that are currently on sale... Hint hint.

  13. If you're just not loving what's available, don't forget about vintage pieces. I've found so many gems on 1stdibs. So, cash that huge paycheck you got and spend it on these!

  14. Splurge

  15. This step is easy. You’ve planned out your space, you’ve picked out the furniture that works, and now it’s time to buy! Keep in mind, it’s worth it to treat yourself when it comes to your home. This is you’re chance to make your house a home, so go for it!