A Designer's Guide on Where to Place Your Sofa

Sofa placed against a wall
Are you struggling to make sense of your living room furniture arrangement?

What to Consider When Deciding on the Ideal Sofa Placement


Your living room layout and the type of sofa you opt for must meet the needs of your family. Sofas are big – often the room's biggest piece of furniture, and where you place sofa, and coffee table has a huge impact on the functionality of the room.

“When considering a sofa for your space it is important to realize that this piece of furniture determines not only the mood of your space, but dynamic functionality. It is not just a sculpture to be admired, but one that gets climbed, slept, and hopefully, relaxed on," explains Sophia Smith from JANGEORGe Interiors & Furniture.

So when it comes to placing your sofa, you need to consider what function you want the space to serve — whether you want to watch TV, reach the coffee table while having tea, or keep side tables within arm's reach.

The flow of the room 

Another thing you need to consider when deciding on where to place your sofa is the flow of the room. If a space has a good flow to it, people will easily be able to walk around the room without obstuction from —no one wants to tip-toe around an awkward space because your living room furniture arrangement is interrupting the flow of traffic.

The sofa can face the TV, the fireplace, or other chairs, as long as people can flow through the living room without crashing into all the furniture that is haphazardly placed in the space.

When you're re-arranging living room furniture think about how the space currently works and where you could make improvements.

“When people walk through your living area, where do they gravitate towards and where do they usually face? Is this something you would like to change? Then put the sofa in an opposing direction to offset this flow and redefine the space," adds Sophia Smith. "If you like the existing flow, then place your sofa in a spot that supports this flow.”

Your room’s focal points

Not every room has a fireplace, accent wall, or bay window, but most living rooms tend to have some accent furniture or a piece of art that could be considered a focal element.

Megan Dufresne, Principal Designer at MC Design, suggests first looking for any built-in focal points that pull the eye. From there you can decide whether it makes more sense to place the sofas facing these points, next to them, or under them.

This is especially important in a small living room where space is limited and you don't want to arrange furniture in such a way that completely dominates the space.

"If the room does not have an obvious focal point, you need to create one," Megan advises. This can be done even in a small space, where a TV, artwork, or the sofa itself can become the main focus point.

Your sofa’s visual weight 

Balance is so important when arranging furniture. "When choosing where to place a sofa, you want to take into consideration the visual weight of it," explains Dufresne. "Its size, color, and shape will also dictate where you can place it without it being in the way or overpowering other design elements in the room."

As sofas are typically the largest item in the room they can make a living room feel unbalanced if they're too big for the space or much bolder than other elements in the room. Other furniture pieces, like chairs, tables - even table lamps - can help balance the living room layout so that the sofa does not dominate the visual space.

4 Ideal Placement Ideas

Your living room layout can determine the energy of your home. According to Megan Dufresne, there are two goals to keep in mind when considering where to place your sofa: "The first goal is to strike a balance in the space. The second is to preserve functionality, because we don't just want to look at it, we also want to live with it and use it."

Your furniture placement will affect the traffic flow and functionality of your living room. So, let's look at some great placement ideas that will achieve the two goals above:

Adjacent to or opposite a focal point

Sofa by fireplace
In this living room, the sofa is placed adjacent to the fireplace (credit: MC Design)

Whatever the focal point, you can place your sofa across from it to bring the space together. Whether you are working with a large coffee table, a painting, a sculpture, a fireplace, another ornate sofa, or the TV, placing the sofa across from or adjacent to this point will ensure a cohesive space that just makes sense.

Floated in the room

Sofa floated in a living room
This sofa is floated in a living room and dining space (credit: MC Design)

Floating a sofa away from the wall can create a cozy spot for conversation, and also works well to create zones if the dining space, kitchen, and living room are all in one open floor plan.

The backrest of the sofa plays a part in creating a seating area; "A higher backrest closes off the space more compared to a low backrest that is easier to peek over to continue a flow," explains Sophia Smith.

Across from the TV

Sofa across from TV
Place your sofa for prime TV views (credit: MC Design)

In a small living room, it will make functional sense to place the sofa across from the TV. If you have the space, you can place a chair on one side of the sofa, and a coffee table between the sofa and the TV. This will ensure you still have a conversation area as well as a cozy nook for movie nights.

Against the wall

Sofa against a wall
Placing your sofa against a wall can help the flow of the room (credit: MC Design)

In a smaller living room, the sofa can be placed against the wall to keep it out of the way of the traffic pattern but still keep it functional. You can place it against a blank wall to leave it as the center of attention, or place an artwork or mirror above the sofa to create a statement.

In front of a window

Sofa In Front of a Window
Make sure you let natural light in if you place your sofa in front of a window (credit: MC Design)

You should never block a window (we love all that natural light!) but a low-backed sofa can be the perfect reading spot in front of a window. Just make sure to leave about 10 inches between the sofa and the window to allow for drapes or blinds to hang down.

What About Placing a Sectional or “L Shape” Sofa?

L-Shaped Sofa
Give plenty of breathing room to an L-shaped sofa to aid the flow of the room (credit: MC Design)

Placing an L-shaped or sectional sofa in your living room can be a little bit more tricky because of its shape.

That said, an L-shaped sofa or chaise can create a wonderful conversation spot and help dictate how people use the space. Sophia Smith explains it best: "This shape is also more dynamic than a regular two- or three-seater because it allows people to face each other when they are on the sofa."

Due to the shape of this sofa, make sure to create some breathing room and don't fill up the living room with a bunch of smaller furniture pieces - let the L-shaped sofa speak for itself.

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Which direction should a sofa face for the best Feng Shui?

Your sofa should face the direction of the house that gets the most sun. If the south side of the house gets more sun then your sofa should face south. This will create an uplifting energy in your home.

Can my sofa go directly against the wall?

Interior designers recommend leaving a small space between the sofa and the wall, even in a small room, to prevent the room from looking cramped.

How far should my sofa be from the TV?

Experts recommend taking your TV screen size and doubling it to get the distance to the couch. That means if you have a 60-inch TV, the sofa should be placed at least 120 inches away.

Meet the experts

At Living Cozy, we produce our content alongside interior design and home decor experts. In this guide, you’ll advice from:

Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
Ash Read
Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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