One of the cheapest and easiest ways to totally transform the energy in a room is to simply move the furniture. Here’s the thing: Far more important than the style and color of your couch and how much you paid for it, how you arrange your furniture is absolutely key to the feel and function of a space. And nowhere is that more important than a living room or family room.
I’ve seen sofas placed like barricades, blocking easy entry (and energy flow) into a room. I’ve seen them backed up against windows so as to prohibit the easy operation of blinds and shades. I’ve seen furniture arrangements so confused, you’d need a GPS to figure out the traffic flow in the room. In all of these situations, the rooms ended up being barely used by the homes’ inhabitants—the furniture placement literally blocked relationships and family togetherness, and did nothing to enhance social gatherings.
But there is one phenomenon that I’ve found more common than all the others. I call it the “Pushing All the Furniture Against the Wall” syndrome.
This happens when people position every sofa and chair in a room around its perimeter, backed up to a wall, or stuck in a corner, leaving a big open space in the middle. I’ve seen the syndrome exhibited in homes large and small, and when I ask people why they have chosen to arrange the furniture this way, I inevitably get the same answer: “It makes the room look bigger.”
I recall one jumbo size suburban house I was asked to consult on. You couldn’t have made the home’s vast double-height living room look small even if you tried, yet all of the furniture was lined up against a wall or set in the corners. It looked like you’d have to shout to have a conversation and would need a pair of binoculars to watch TV. It was no surprise to me when the homeowner disclosed that her family tended not to hang out in the room. But when I suggested we move the furniture, she protested: “But won’t that make the room look smaller?”
Here’s what I say: There is no absolute value in a room looking bigger. The more important thing to consider is: What do you want that space to serve in your life? What are some things you and your family want to do in that room and how do you want to feel when you’re in it?
If you practice ballroom dancing in your living room on a daily basis, or your kid uses the room to train for gymnastics competitions, then, by all means, push that furniture up against the wall and leave that open space in the middle. For you, it serves a function.
But for most of us, that is not the case. Our living rooms and family rooms are primarily places to relax, read, entertain, watch television, and connect with a partner and/or our kids. So, want to enhance your family and social life? Pull that lonely furniture away from those walls and think about arranging it in a convivial “U” shape that promotes conversation and eye contact. Or bring two armchairs out of the corners (where they bock the flow of energy in the room) and set them side by side to face the couch directly, with a coffee table in between (like the lovely room pictured in the photo above). Just remember that a good distance for easy conversing is no more than about 8 ft.
If it is possible to do so, a good Feng Shui rule of thumb is to place your sofa so that its occupants can see the main entrance into the room.
Of course, pulling the furniture away from the walls means moving side tables and lamps as well, which might mean moving them away from wall outlets. To avoid cords trailing across the room, consider having in-floor electrical outlets installed exactly where you need them.
Remember to plan for traffic flow. Decide on the points where people will exit and enter a room, and how they’ll circulate, and leave about 3 feet of clearance for them to move through those spaces.
And what if your living room is also the location of your TV? That’s a subject for a whole other blog post. But I will say this: Unless it’s specifically a media room, orienting all of the furniture around a giant flat-screen TV can have a way of making TV-watching the dominant activity in a room, energetically blocking its potential for other kinds of activities. If that’s not what you want, consider your options carefully.
Finally, there is a ton of great information and ideas on furniture arranging on the web, including a slideshow with tips from Better Homes & Gardens here, one from Traditional Home magazine here, and another on the Apartment Therapy site, here.
So get moving!
Eils Lotozo is a Feng Shui expert, writer, and speaker who loves to help and inspire people to create homes that reflect who they are and support the life they want to live. Read more about Eils.
Article/Image Source: Furniture Arranging with Feng Shui