Small rooms, rooms with lots of windows, and rooms with too many doors pose problems when it’s time to furnish. However, there are some truly great room designs that work well within these confines. It’s easiest to deal with these issues if you haven’t bought furniture yet, but even if you have, you can make it work.
1. Work with an empty room
Start the planning process before you put the furniture in the room. While it’s wide open, you can easily visualize configurations that are harder to spot once the furniture is wall to wall. Visually plan the space or lay out sheets to mark where you’re thinking of putting furniture and other items. This saves your back while you figure out how to make things work.
2. Draw the room to scale
Instead of playing human Barbie Dreamhouse with heavy furniture, draw the room to scale and cut out pieces of paper to represent your furniture. Arrange the room on paper until you get it the way you like it, then create the real room with your furnishings. If you’re buying furniture, take accurate room measurements to the store with you.
3. Incorporate an area rug
An area rug is a good way to define what part of the room will be the seating area and how much of the space will be left for walking. Choose a rug about 2 feet smaller than the whole room, and select furnishings and arrangements that fit within this confine.
4. Play with furniture groupings
Great options for a cramped space include:
Two facing couches with a coffee table in between
Two to four bar chairs around a table to create a cafe atmosphere
A love seat facing two chairs with a coffee table in between
A grouping of four oversized chairs, two on one side of a coffee table and two on the other
All of these groupings give ample space for visiting while leaving enough room to navigate the room.
5. Add decorative touches
After you have the furniture arranged in the center of the room, embellish the space with wall hangings, floor lamps, plants, and other features to draw attention away from the odd configuration. Choose a single focal point and arrange everything else to complement this spot. A fireplace or bay window makes an ideal focal point. If the room lacks a natural choice, opt for an oversized piece of wall art.
Rustic rooms are well-suited for hanging an heirloom quilt. Modern wall hangings can be as simple as a geometric pattern. Traditional rooms work well with pictures or photographs, such as landscapes, scenes of nature, or lifelike animals or birds. Once your focal point is in place, the room looks as if it has a purposeful design.
Worried that your old furniture won’t fit and you can’t afford to buy new? Check local thrift shops and garage sales. Wealthy homeowners often redecorate, discarding wonderful, barely used furniture for next to nothing. Estate sales, scratch-and-dent sales, and going-out-of-business sales are all great places to score new or nearly new stuff on the cheap.