Should you point your furniture toward your beautiful view or your TV? What if you have lots of furniture for a small room? Everyone needs a chair, but how to do it, without crowding the room?

You might have spent hours searching for stylish pieces that fit the vibe you are looking for, but ultimately when it comes to your home, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder - but there’s a chance you are unknowingly ruining your room’s potential.

Common mistakes can include a room looking too orderly – a calculated symmetrical living room with everything of similar shapes and proportions isn’t always good. Don’t be afraid to shake things up and combine different styles, colours and proportions. They say that having a matching sofa and chair or loveseat is a tired and dated look, but by mixing textures, colours, and even genres, you can create a space that looks thoughtfully well designed.

Your coffee table height in relation to your couch is another area to take note of. Modern coffee tables are usually low (with the temptation to use it as a footstool) and can create a dangerous situation where children or pets could run into them, so sometimes using two modular side tables can create an interesting modern feel to the room instead, releasing up some space.

Ease of navigation is important too - a space should never feel too cramped, and there's nothing worse than having to do the cha-cha and shimmying between the furniture to move around! To achieve a look that is pure and simple with plenty of space, maintain a comfortable distance from the edge of your seats to the edge of the coffee table. Another critique from interior designers is furniture pushed up against the walls. Don't be afraid to float your couch - it is tempting to push all furniture up against the wall, but this can create dead space in the centre of the room. Leaving a few inches between your wall and sofa if you can creates a more inviting environment.

oo many pieces of furniture in a room can make it feel overcrowded, so sometimes less is more. Perhaps start with one incredible piece and build around it. If you have a large sofa, you don’t need to have two chairs flanking it. Instead, try adding one chair and a small side table, which will create balance in the room and allow for an uninterrupted sense of flow. Try to keep a minimum of 18 inches, if possible, between your seating and your coffee table.

Designers suggest that the height for a proper dining or ‘task’ chair is important, as nothing is worse than the chair arms not fitting under the table, so keep as much clearance as possible, and if there’s a narrow drawer in the table as well, perhaps you should consider going ‘armless’.

Consider the height issue with bedside tables too. Measure your bed with the box spring (if it has one), mattress, and frame included to assure the nightstands aren’t too low or too high.

Rugs – there are several ways you can organise furniture on an area rug that are all acceptable, but a few rules of thumb are non-negotiable! The coffee table should have all four legs placed on the rug, sofas and chairs should have at least their front two legs on the rug if possible, and for bigger rugs, all four legs of sofas and chairs can touch the rug, side tables should either be on or off the rug, not in between, and the rug should always be wider than the couch. Bigger is always better if you can afford it.

Dimensions are always key. Scale furniture to the size of the room and search for furniture pieces accordingly - for a smaller room, using a loveseat instead of a couch, or café table instead of a traditional dining set can assure a cohesive look without overwhelming the room with large pieces.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan