Finding furniture to suit your tastes and house designs

furnitureStripped of all its furnishings, an empty room can be intimidating or inspiring. For our expert, it is definitely the latter. In the work as an editor for top home decor magazines and as the principal of design firm, the person has learned a thing or two about the optimal placement of sofas, tables, beds and accessories that fill our homes.

Find focal point
There are no hard-and-fast rules in furniture arranging, but if there is a focal point in the room like a fireplace, for instance, or a window with a beautiful view and try to place your furniture around it to draw the eye in that direction.

Keep clear path
You always want to be invited into a room visually, without any obstructions in your path. Be mindful of the number of items you are placing in a room. Use only what you need for comfort, storage and utility, and find new homes for extraneous pieces.

Avoid perimeter
Lining furniture along the perimeter of a room creates a very stagnant look. That being said, we don’t all have the luxury or space to float all our furniture in the center of the room. If a large piece like a couch makes most sense against the wall, float a few smaller pieces like two comfortable armchairs — in front of it to balance the look.

Encourage conversation
No matter what size your living room is, you should always consider seating that lets you share the space with a friend. Positioning a couch and two chairs near a focal point, or even two love seats or two chaises facing each other, is a lovely way to start.

Consider dining dynamics
As a general rule, the dining table and chairs occupy the middle of a room. If there is a chandelier overhead, be sure it does not obstruct views across the table. A sideboard, hutch, console or even a chest of drawers along a wall of the room can add much-needed storage for linens and flatware, and also provide a surface for additional ambient lighting.

Think about function
To determine what pieces you will need in the kitchen, think about how you use the space. If you love to cook and entertain, an island or movable workstation is a sensible investment. Seating is vital as well. Choose a table and chairs if you have the room, or find comfortable stools that can tuck under a counter when not in use. If space allows, you are highly recommend a couch in the kitchen!

Keep it simple
It is always nice to wake up to a view outside your windows, so if you have something lovely to look at, place your bed to take advantage of it. Next, consider all the practical things you need in the bedroom: bedside tables and lighting, a dresser or armoire to store clothing, and a chair or bench. Although it is not necessary for the furniture finishes to match, you do like the look of soft neutral wall colors, matching lamps on side tables and linens in natural fibers. Save pops of color for decorative pillows or throws; even the art can add a little zing to the space, but keep it simple. You do also like to have a rug near the bed for warmth and softness underfoot.

Measure mindfully
Take accurate measurements of your room and the doorways and entrances before you start shopping for furniture. To get an idea of what will fit in the space that you have, you can tape it out with masking tape on the floor of an empty room using the dimensions of each prospective piece. Allow plenty of room for walking about, pulling out a chair, and accommodating whatever elements you need in order to function in the space.

Clear clutter
Clutter distracts from the beauty of a room. When guests walk in, all they will see is a pile of papers on the counter, toys on the floor, or laundry in the corner instead of that amazing sofa or incredible table you worked so hard for. If you want to display collections or family photos, keep them stabled in one place, such as a bookcase, hall table, or dedicated family photo wall, so they look neat and unified.