Seating Arrangements in a Space – How to Make the Most of it!


Have you ever considered the way your furniture is arranged in a space? Perhaps you have a weird-shaped living room that feels impossible to “get right”. Space planning is one of the fundamentals of interior design and one of the first aspects of any project.

How furniture is arranged in a space influences how that area is used and also perceived by others. It has the ability to create a harmonious and inviting environment for everyone! Arranging furniture – and seating areas specifically – plays a vital role in the functionality of the space.

In this article, we will explore the seating arrangements in a space and discuss the non-negotiables we use in each of our interior design projects. Through this we will share our top tips and design considerations so you can maximize your space through the seating arrangements.

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Living Rooms

A common question we get asked is, “How do you arrange living room furniture to encourage conversation?” Variations of this include planning furniture for open-plan spaces where there needs to be a connection between multiple areas.

We almost always recommend using an area rug to anchor any seating arrangement. This actually goes for any room type – living, family, and even dining rooms.

To encourage conversation, focus on using sofas and chairs that face each other. Sectional sofas don’t encourage conversation and are best placed for family rooms where the use of the space is different. Two sofas facing each other with accent chairs adjacently in the middle will encourage conversation.

For open plan spaces, you could use standard sofas on the outer edges, and accent chairs or a chaise in between the two open areas. This will allow gaps in between the furniture to help create a natural flow between the two spaces, while also helping them feel connected.

Dining Rooms

Dining rooms are typically set up to encourage conversation and social interaction because all the seating is placed around a central table. But there are some design considerations you can put in place to encourage people to linger at the dining table after dinner.

Upholstered dining chairs are great for encouraging people to linger as they provide support and comfort. If people are uncomfortable in their seats, they will be eager to move at the first opportunity. Consider having drinks nearby for serving right after dining (we love using bar carts and trolleys for this!), and use soft lighting to promote conversation too.

Technical Considerations

So how far should furniture be placed in spaces to encourage conversation but is also practical for everyday use?

Seating elements (sofas, chairs, etc.) should be a couple of feet apart. Furniture should also be 6 inches on the diagonal from each other when arranged in an L-shape. Keep the distances across to the width of a coffee table, plus three feet, for comfortable conversation and movement.

Aspects to Avoid

If creating conversation is your top priority for a space, avoid using sectional sofas. Sectionals discourage conversation and people tend to pair up which leaves large openings in the group. This makes conversation feel forced and awkward when a sectional sofa is involved.

Use standard sofas and accent chairs to avoid gaps between groups of people and to encourage conversation when entertaining guests.

Our Top Tips

Always have multiple types of seating available. Not only does this create a more dynamic space for everyday use, it also creates a more welcoming and open space for entertaining guests. Having different types of seating available allows people to choose their level of comfort. Some may prefer a dining chair, while others like an armchair to sink into.

Having bar carts or drinks areas help to encourage people to move around the space. This also provides different areas for people to use and encourages people to stand as well.

Personalize Your Space

Would you like a professional interior designer to pull your space together? Contact us for in person interior design services in the Chicagoland area or virtual interior design services anywhere in the world.