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The Art of Arranging Furniture

Rogue Valley interior designers Margaret L. Clark, owner of Maggie's Interior Design in Rogue River and Ginger Lawrence, owner of Ginger Lawrence Interiors in Grants Pass have been expertly arranging furniture and assorted accessories for over 30 years. They offer you these 10 tips on how to artfully arrange your home's furnishings to unite style with function, while maintaining proper balance and scale.

1. Spatial Specifics

Measure the room and take note of the room's specifics prior to arranging furniture.

  • Windows: the space between them, sill height and size.

  • Fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators.

  • Doorways and doors that open 'in'.

  • Cable

  • Outlets

  • Phone jacks

  • Air vents

  • Built-ins

  • Wall space

    2. Treasure Hunting

    Scour your house, garage, attic, basement, yard and storage unit to locate lost treasures that can be added to your room. Be open to anything and try to look beyond the item's current or typical use. Be inventive and incorporate items into your furnishings. Clark says, "I often use items from other rooms in my designs. Things that my clients forgot they even had."

    3. Inspiration

    Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. An article of clothing, a hobby, and a piece of furniture or a photograph are all great for planning an artistic room layout. Check out local furniture and home improvement stores and bring your 'inspiration' with you when you shop.

    4. The Focal Point

    This can be a bay window, bookcases, artwork, a fireplace or a beautiful piece of furniture, just to name a few. A focal point is an architectural or decorative element that draws people's attention. Generally used in an entryway or living room, your furniture placement and lighting should highlight the focal point.

    5. Lifestyle

    Prior to decorating a room Clark says, "Ask yourself a few questions. Will there be kids or pets using this space? Does the furniture need to be multifunctional?" By answering these questions you can determine the types of furniture to use in a room, placement of the larger pieces and how to properly space items for traffic flow.

    6. Lighting

    Use directed light sources such as table lamps, floor lamps and recessed lighting to add dimension to a room. Use light to focus attention on decorator items, to accent furniture pieces and to be useful. Clark likes to arrange desks near windows to access natural light.

    7. Color

    "Color is the most important thing," says Lawrence. "Choose your colors first for a total look." To create a cozy space, try adding dark colored furniture to warm up a room. Use dark colors sparingly in small spaces however, as they can make the space seem even smaller. Arrange furniture for easy conversation and add items such as soft pillows and throws to create an inviting texture and depth.

    8. Graph It

    Once you know what furniture you will be using, use graph paper to draw your space, using 1 inch to equal 1 foot for scale. Include the room specifics in your drawing and then cut out furniture pieces; also to scale, and begin arranging your furniture on paper. This will enable you to find the best possible fit for your furniture without having to break into a sweat.

    9. Large Pieces

    Arrange large items: sofas, beds and dining tables in the room first. Once these are in place, add the smaller furnishings to complete the layout. "Don't overfill your room," says Lawrence. "Consider the scale of the furniture you put into a room to be very important to the overall balance of the room."

    10. Unifying The Look

    Finally, bring in artwork, collectibles and photographs. "Wall décor is so important," says Lawrence, "it can unify eclectic home furnishings." Clark adds, "Hang artwork at eye level where it can be easily viewed by the adults in the household." By grouping accessories in odd numbers, using small furniture sparingly and rotating collectibles in and out of storage, you will eliminate clutter from your space and create an artfully arranged room.

    The Art of Arranging Furniture