Living Room Layout Dilemma

layout

I have been trying to figure out how to lay out our new living room for weeks, so maybe you wonderful readers can help me out.  The issue is the shape of the room and the difficulty of having dueling focal points.
LR1
The room has a working fireplace flanked by lovely built-in bookcases and storage.  The plan is to highlight the backs of the two sides of shelving by painting them an accent color.  We might also paint the brick, but that has yet to be decided.
The fireplace would make a splendid focal point on its own, if we were to leave the room as a formal living room.  I really want it to be a space that gets used though, and I know it won’t unless there is a TV in there.  Sad, but true.  (There is no way to run cords around or behind the fireplace, so mounting the TV above the mantel is right out.)
LIVING ROOM
The living room is long and narrow with a large bank of windows that provide the room’s only natural light.
empty room
So, how do I make this long space cozy AND accommodate two focal points? And, to sweeten the issue, how do we feel about putting an area rug ONTO wall to wall carpet?
Discuss.

CHOICE A
One big space, couch in front of windowblocked window
CHOICE B
One big space, chairs in front of windowtv focus no rug
CHOICE C
Same as B, but with an area rugtv focus with rug
CHOICE D
Two separate seating areas, couch partially blocking windowtwo spaces blocked window no rug
CHOICE E
Same as D, but with an area rug
two spaces blocked window with rug
CHOICE F
Two separate seating areas, possible traffic issuetwo spaces no rug
CHOICE G
Same as F, but with an area rugtwo spaces with rug

So, what do you think?  Which of these layouts do you think would work best in The Mad House living room?  Vote in the poll below!
EDIT (9/2013):  Thank you to all of you who have weighed in via the comment section.  I have enjoyed reading each comment and considering your ideas.  I am STILL working on finishing the living room — I know, I know — and will post pics as soon as we get it all sorted out.  The layout we are currently using is closest to Choice C with some chairs switched around, and it works very well for us.

To answer a few of your questions:
  • We couldn’t mount the TV above the fireplace because it was just too darn big.  We have since downsized to a smaller TV, but it is not the wall-mountable variety.  Plus, I like being able to decorate the mantel and have a mirror above the fireplace.  You can see more about our fireplace and built-ins here.
  • We have hit a snag with the plans for lightening up the fireplace brick.  I was in talks with a company to replace the brick with faux stone, but that fell through.  Still working on a Plan B.
  • We are a limited budget family, so replacing furniture or hiring electricians isn’t a top priority.  I am thankful for all your ideas though, because when we do get around to those projects I will want the advice! 
  • When the living room is done, I will be sure to update this post so you can check it all out!
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Comments

  1. KJ says

    DEFINITELY G or F!!! Gives you room for the fireplace and also for sitting. (1) Opens up the window and the walk space. (2) OR you could have the couch facing the fire and against the far wall adjacent to it.

    ADORABLE HOUSE

    • says

      Hi- I’m a designer with over 30 years experience, and you’re mistaken about the fireplace- you absolutely CAN mount the TV over that, thereby eliminating the dual focal points. I have my tech guys do it all the time on brick fireplaces! If you live in the Chicago area, email me and I’ll give you their contact info. And if not, email me anyway, because they probably know someone in your area who can do it. As to painting the brick- YES!!! If you’re super handy, and it appears you are, do it with multiple levels of opaque stain, and the results can be magnificent. Take a look at the example of a fireplace I just had done for a client at my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Anderson-Design/92947841095?ref=hl

  2. Lorri says

    Hi, I have a similar layout to my living area with two differences. my built ins are on the other end of the living room and I have 3 sets of window on my far wall; one large and two smaller, one on each end. I feel your pain. We can’t mount the tv above the fire place either, nor do i like that set up. In the built-ins we ended up taking out a shelf and raising another (on the window side of the room) and we put our 55″ tv there. Leaving our lay out similar to your option C, but with a lounge chair as your blue chair. The fire place area, to our backs (ugh) is completely un-done. I’ve never been so lost with a room. After more than 2 years, I’m seriously considering soliciting the help of Steven and Chris!! Good luck. Looking forward to your completed room!

    Lorri

  3. Peggy says

    If you ever decide to mount over the fireplace you can access from the attic and bring wiring down to that area. I’m not a fan of the over the fireplace tv mount, however. My daughter painted her brick fireplace a beautiful cream color and it looks terrific. It took her some time to be brave enough to cover the brick but she is extremely happy with it. And….I have put area rugs over carpeting for years and love the look. Adds a little zing to the room. Have fun with this. Like your floor plan!

  4. Lorie says

    I prefer layout ‘C’. It provides a cozy seating area, (especially w/ the area rug added) yet the room will still have a spacious feel and the fireplace remains your focal point. I’m afraid that a couple of those layouts will have you ‘weaving’ around furniture all the time!

  5. Melissa McCormack says

    I also struggle with a similar problem. I really like option G. I use an area rug on top of carpet. It works well, but must use a rug pad or risk the rug “creeping”. I wish my room had the Windows that yours does. Looking forward to seeing finished room.

  6. Penny says

    So glad I came across this! I have this exact set up, except the window is on the opposite wall. Also, we DO have the TV mounted above the fireplace. I just can not get this room to come out “cozy”. We can not use rugs because we have dogs, and I just can not figure out a good furniture arrangement. Very frustrating. We currently have a couch and loveseat in the room (had a captain’s chair, but moved it to a different room) and two end tables and none of it makes sense.

  7. Marci says

    I know this might be too late, but I would go with option A. From a decorating standpoint you always want your biggest piece of furniture on the biggest wall to balance out the room. You can still then see the fire place, and watch TV at the same time- utilizing the entire room. By having the back of the couch facing the fire place in the middle of the room, yes you are creating 2 extra spaces but you can’t enjoy the fire place as much if your back is turned and vice versa (which section would you utilize more?) You have different focal points depending on where you are entering from if you are coming in the from the dinning room you focal point is the couch and window. If you are coming in from the hall your eyes are going to be immediately drawn to the fire place and built ins. In the future you could also add a soft ottoman (just examples http://www.allmodern.com/Poufs-C503428.html) in front of one of the built ins- this wouldn’t block the built ins completely and would add more warmth and comfort as well as extra seating. -Also love your idea of painting the backs of the built ins with a accent colour, that will help them stand out more, highlighting your different shelf decor and will help tie in the rest of the room.

  8. Ruth Graber says

    May be too late, but interesting dilemma . I must choose A and agree with Marci’s comments, which I read studiously. I believe A is the most balanced of the choices and presents you with a more luxurious feel, especially if you’ll ever use the room when entertaining.

  9. says

    i would put two sofas in the space. Back to back or facing each other. I had a problematic family room, very awkward and two sofas solved the problem. Room looks huge now. Two sofas take up less room than seperate chairs.

    • says

      Ps….. Brass can be masked off and sprayed with heat resistant black matte spray paint, amazing product. Bick would look fabulous in a taupe or gray, possibly a shade or two darker than wall, and book shelves painted trim color or shade or two darker or lighter than wall. You have a great space to work with. Wood floors will make space look bigger if budget allows in the future.

  10. says

    1. Since this post is a year old, would like to see the results

    2. Looking at the picture I would blow out the wall going into the Dinning room (Its doesn’t look like a low barring wall, to open the whole space

    3. I would place the couch entering in from the entrance facing the Fire place..( which I would Paint) add a high table behind the couch add pictures/candles/ etc. than I would add a area rug, hairs in front of the picture window and TV (if you must) on the long wall add chairs on each side of the fireplace, also paint the inside of the bookshelves the accent color you choose for your room…Good Luck

  11. says

    Hi! I realize this post is quite a bit old, but my sister was in a very similar situation and she made a very inexpensive plywood false back above the fireplace to hide wires, etc and then just drilled small holes in the back corners of the bookshelves all the way down then slid the extension cord under the carpet. She masked any cords that showed with tape and then painted over them.

    Terrible instructions, I know… but just a thought!

    Lovely blog! Have a wonderful day!

  12. Caitlyn says

    I absolutley love G! The window isnt completely covered. It’s a little seperated but not completely seperated. I would do it with another couch as opposed to the chairs. But it still looks great!

  13. Marissa says

    My living room layout is almost identical to yours, except we don’t have built-ins. What we ended up doing is very similar to your choice B, except since we don’t have built ins we can put the TV in the corner between the fireplace and the window. I really like having our chair right in front of the window, as it doesn’t block much light and is heavenly to sit in on a warm, breezy day.

  14. Mackenzie says

    Have you thought about having the couch face the fireplace? but then you have the TV situation… you could have behind the couch a longer table in between two of you chairs facing the TV…. but I feel like it focuses a lot on the fire place more and makes it comfy to cozy up in front of the fire on a cold day with no lights on except the glow of the fire, but its hard to visualize without getting to play around with the room. I don’t know, just an idea.

  15. Mackenzie says

    Also to make the room look bigger you can hang long curtains with the curtain rod at the ceiling and the curtains down to the floor, even if the window doesn’t go all the way up. Let them have a nutural color and your accent color in a design. Something that doesn’t quite stand out, but gives the room a bit of texture.

  16. stacey phillips says

    2 of my pet peeves are sofas in front of a window, and painted brick. Just don’t care for either. Maybe, MAYBE, if it had a sofa table in front of the window & directly behind the sofa? Just hate to see the back of a large piece of furniture when looking in a window. (and it defeats the purpose of a window) There are diagonal options that look great, but of the ideas above I’d go with the sofa facing the fireplace and TV above it…and, as someone mentioned, a sofa table behind it. I’d probably have a sofa facing 2 chairs diagonally. Much more modern than lining furniture against walls.

  17. stella says

    I have your living room and it’s also been a major debate for the past 4 years since moving in. I wish I could post a pic but we currently have choice b. It’s OK but I think the real balance in the room would be choice A I plan to go that route. It’s really to narrow a room for two sofas, feel your pain and I’m not that inclined for aesthetic and neck reasons, having a TV over the fireplace. I would have two similar chairs flanking the fireplace. Good luck!

  18. Wanda looper says

    I had similar issue and used a setup like F but used 2 matching love seats back to back with sofa table between and huge floral arrangement on the table. In front of fireplace you can use 2 smaller club chairs with ottoman facing each other with ottoman between or on an angle toward fireplace to right and left of love seat, use cocktail table or if you us ottoman place a tray on it for dranks etc….This setup will give you 4 seats and with coordinating throw pillows you will have extra seating on fireplace mantel. I also used an 5 x 8 area rug to define space and have a cozy feel. I didn’t use much space between furniture. If you need more light in the evening you might want to place 2 lamps on the sofa table rather than floral arrangement.

    The other side I had a coordinating rug but placed on an angle for interest. That side is close to the setup I had. I had enough space for an antique buffet in front of window (great storage). You can also use something like the buffet to set TV on it. I centered the love seats in middle of floor but had furniture closer to fireplace end……

    I’m a Realtor, my heart is into arranging furniture, staging the home to get on the market. Love your house and I know you are having fun.

  19. Sharon says

    This is about your bookshelves. Instead of painting the backs, buy foam board and cut to fit. Paint them instead and easy to change.

  20. leasley says

    I like G. F is nice too. dividing the LR into two separate areas is nice because when you have gatherings, guests can opt to sit/stand near the fire place in one group or sit in the other section where the couch is. It also allows for having two slightly different (not too different) themes within the same living space.

  21. Tara says

    I’m not really in love with any of the layouts because you’re making a large room (akward layout for sure) feel and look smaller.

    It wouldn’t cost too much to close off one of the entryways (preferably dining room entrance) or think of tearing down the wall altogether. If it’s load bearing that’s gonna cost. If it’s not, no reason not to open it up. That will solve the dilemma I think. And update your space for future resale. Putting large furniture in front of the window is really not a good idea. Plus, that’s the only natural light you’re really getting in there so don’t block it off. Updating the fireplace to something lighter would be wonderful. Paint looks great surprisingly and doesn’t cost much at all.
    Best of luck!

  22. says

    That is a tough room ! I don’t know if anyone has suggested this because you have way too many comments to read through but as far as the fireplace brick, it is expensive to replace. You could 1) whitewash it. 2) paint it. or you could cover the brick in cement board and put whatever finish you want, yes even stone, over the cement board. Do it yourself and save a ton ! I am a home stager by the way and have done all these before ! You would love the transformation !
    As to the room layout, i think your doing a great job ! have you thought about a couple small ottomans set neatly side by side directly in front of the hearth instead of bulky chairs? Good luck !

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Living Room Layout Dilemma

I have been trying to figure out how to lay out our new living room for weeks, so maybe you wonderful readers can help me out.  The issue is the shape of the room and the difficulty of having dueling focal points.

 

LR1

 

The room has a working fireplace flanked by lovely built-in bookcases and storage.  The plan is to highlight the backs of the two sides of shelving by painting them an accent color.  We might also paint the brick, but that has yet to be decided.

 

The fireplace would make a splendid focal point on its own, if we were to leave the room as a formal living room.  I really want it to be a space that gets used though, and I know it won’t unless there is a TV in there.  Sad, but true.  (There is no way to run cords around or behind the fireplace, so mounting the TV above the mantel is right out.

 

LIVING ROOM

The living room is long and narrow with a large bank of windows that provide the room’s only natural light.

empty room

All floor plans created using Icovia’s Room Planner.

 

So, how do I make this long space cozy AND accommodate two focal points? And, to sweeten the issue, how do we feel about putting an area rug ONTO of wall to wall carpet?

 

Discuss.


CHOICE A

One big space, couch in front of windowblocked window

 

CHOICE B

One big space, chairs in front of windowtv focus no rug

 

CHOICE C

Same as B, but with an area rugtv focus with rug

 

CHOICE D

Two separate seating areas, couch partially blocking windowtwo spaces blocked window no rug

 

CHOICE E

Same as D, but with an area rug

two spaces blocked window with rug

CHOICE F

Two separate seating areas, possible traffic issuetwo spaces no rug

 

CHOICE G

Same as F, but with an area rugtwo spaces with rug

 

So, what do you think?  Which of these layouts do you think would work best in The Mad House living room?  Vote in the poll below!

 

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Comments

  1. Jaime says

    My Personal Favorite Is Choice C :) You Can Watch The TV Without The Sun Glaring Off It Or Look Out The Window If You Were Reading Or Just Sitting And Not Blocking Off The Room By Putting The Couch In The Middle Of The Room. That Would Also Make The Room Look smaller

  2. SueP says

    I’ ve struggled withis same layout for 30 years. My solution is to flip between A and C Seasonally. My windows face west and it is nice to sit in the sunny spot on winter afternoons. Once Spring arrives, I turn it all around so I can watch the blooms in my front garden. The design of the room is still bothersome.

  3. Nancy says

    Oh, boy,, I have the SAME EXACT room.. (altho I’m at work and I’m not sure of the dimensions), but it’s the same dilemma. I HATE the couch in front of the window, because it has faded every couch (strong sun all afternoon).. I have tried “C”.. and had it that way for a while, but it just didn’t feel “right” to me..

    I have been in a similar house, same living room, but longer and wider, and the two couches back to back was the perfect solution.. I loved it.. but, alas, my room is not long or wide enough for that.. would love to see what you’ve done..!

  4. Mindy says

    I have the same room also and it has sat open for a year now. My problem is that it’s on a 3rd level so I can’t split the room up cause that’s where my stairs are!

  5. says

    Well, the original post is over 2 years old so I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now LOL – but I don’t see an update in this post anywhere. Could you provide a link? Curious what you ended up with.

    • madincrafts says

      You'd think I would have by now, wouldn't you?! The truth is that while we have the room laid out in a way that works, it's nowhere near finished!

  6. DeeCee says

    I have had this very same problem! I put the tv over the fireplace ran the cords next to the back wall and tacked them down. Ran them through the shelves to the outlet. Face the sofa to the fireplace. Place a sofa table behind the sofa. Put a lamp on the sofa table and whatever decorative items you wish. Place two chairs to the left of the sofa. Put a small table between them. Place another chair on the opposite side so you have a U configuration. This allows you to stack neat cushions on one side of the fireplace. Place a neat armoire or tall piece of furniture on the dining room door wall. Something low with large art piece above it on opposite wall. I furnished my “new” house completely from estate sales. Good luck!

  7. Mary says

    You should go with F because the fireplace and TV are the focal point of your room. You take care of the cords buy buying a long speaker to put under the TV and put the cords behind the speaker.
    Also the red swag is distracting. Just your white sheers are a fine look for this room.

  8. Bobbie says

    I realize this post is old. But I am in desperate need of some help. I have a very similar layout with the exception of a opening for a hallway where in your choice E The TV sitting And no entry way at the end of the room. I am really struggling with how to set up this furniture. If you have an actual picture of how you like yours out that would be great or if anyone on here sees this post and has any ideas please feel free to let me know. Thank you so much have a great day

  9. Tracey says

    We have a similar layout and to solve our issue we used a sectional. It’s a great way to divide the room as well and creat 2 areas. The long side of the section would be below your windows and the short side dividing the room. The area behind currently we have a low bookcase and children’s table with chairs on an area rug. We will keep it like this for a few more years and then replace that with a desk area so I can still help them with homework while cooking. Many years from that, we intend to put two chairs there with a small table between.

  10. Melanie says

    Choose B or C: your longest piece of furniture stays on your longest wall, providing balance… AND, you won’t have any glare from the window onto the tv screen while you watch!

  11. Aly says

    Idea for you, I like C as well but place two chairs by the fireplace, facing each other with a small table between them. This creates a seating/conversation area by the fireplace. Also I do not like rugs on rugs, makes a room feel heavy. Unless you really need the seating put a lighter chair across from the sofa to lighten up the room a bit. Icecubes on the impression marks should help them spring up a bit,

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