When you move to a new home, it may take a while to get a feel for the space, to know how to make a room both comfortable and functional. Be ready to rearrange, get rid of pieces that don’t fit and perhaps purchase new items that might work a little better.

Assess the Space

  • Clear the space.If possible, remove everything from the room before you start planning; boxes, scattered furniture and any other objects will only hinder a true view of the area within which you’ll be working.
  • Determine how the space will be used.It’s important to think about how it will be used, rather than how you’d like it to be used. Remember, the room should be functional as well as ascetically pleasing. If you’re arranging the living room, for instance, will the area be used as a family room and a place where you’ll entertain guests? If so, perhaps consider how the room can be divided or if furniture can serve dual purposes.
  • Dual purpose rooms.For rooms that will serve more than one purpose, furniture, rugs, bookshelves and room dividers can be used to separate areas. The back of a couch along with a sofa table can make a great room divider as it creates a strong separation without blocking the room’s flow.
  • Look at traffic patterns and focal points.Where are the doors, windows and awkward areas? What will be the focal point? If you have a fireplace or a large picture window, you have a natural focal point from which to center the room.

If you don’t have a natural focal point, create your own using dramatic drapes, large-scale artwork or a substantial piece of furniture; something that grounds the space around which all other pieces will be arranged.

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Use Furniture Placement Tools

  • Create paper replicas.If you’re ambitious or have a difficult space to work with, I suggest creating your own paper replicas of the furniture pieces that you want in the room. You can do this with plain brown paper that you can purchase at office supply stores. You’ll need measurements of each piece of furniture, which you can then trace onto the paper and cut out. Label each cut-out, clear the space, then start arranging.

While this method takes a little more time and energy, it allows you to gain a true sense of the space: how big or small it is; which pieces fit, which don’t; where the traffic patterns are; and how conversation will flow/how functional the room will be.

  • Free online tools.There are several great free online tools that will help you arrange furniture within the new space. Not only will these tools allow you to restructure the space to mimic your own, they also include essential elements such as doors and windows. I highly recommend these tools not only to arrange your space, but also to try out new pieces of furniture or objects, such as mirrors, tables and lights. This is a great way to enhance a room before you even begin to unpack.

Tips for Creating a Balanced Room

  • Balance heavy furniture pieces with other large objects or groupings of smaller items.
  • Don’t place all furniture against walls; use the middle of the space to create depth and interest and to create functional areas, such as conversation spaces or work spaces.
  • Look at the height of furniture pieces and try to create multi-levels within the space. If you have a shorter piece and need to add height, hang a larger print on the wall above, elongating the space and allowing the eye to travel up; this will make the room feel taller.
  • Use color and patterns to your advantage. Eye-popping colors can make a room come alive; just remember to not overuse one particular color or pattern and to spread each throughout the space. Throw pillows, curtains, picture frames and decorative art can all add punches of color and distinctive patterns into a neutral base.
  • Just as you added color to a room, a variety of textures also add depth and interest. Pillows, rugs, drapes, and throws; mixing materials will also create interest: marble, wood, and metal can provide grounding to a space while glass, breezy fabrics and wicker create a breezy feel to the room.
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Before You Arrange a Room

  • Remember traffic flow; most traffic areas require two feet of space.
  • Arrange furniture first before hanging pictures or mirrors.
  • Arrange major pieces of furniture first, then smaller items such as end tables, chairs and plant stands.
  • Leave enough room for doors and drawers to be opened.
  • Think about lighting and how light will work in the room; lights are easy to move, however, this should be done before hanging mirrors and pictures.
  • If placing a TV in a room, remember the distance required between the screen and the viewer; for instance, most sofas or beds should be at least eight feet away from a standard television screen.

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