The placement of individual pieces or groups of furniture within a room is based on the functional needs of each group and the architectural makeup of the room. For example, the shape of the room, the way it merges into other rooms, the way it is accentuated with architectural features, what areas are open and what areas are isolated, must all be considered. A group for reading and studying must have light and it must be away from traffic lanes.
Conversation areas should be close to the center of the room where they can be easily expanded. The placement of the TV set depends on the size and interest of the family and the amount of use they make of it. All these personal and functional matters must be weighed along with the aesthetic considerations before the final placement of the group lings is determined.
- Effect of Space
One basic consideration in the placement of furniture is the floor space in the room and how to make the best use of it. You must recognize and handle such problems as the clearing and handle such problems as the clearing of natural paths from room to room and from room entrances to closets; the planning for uncluttered open spaces in small rooms to create a feeling of space; and the division of large open spaces.
- Natural Paths or Traffic Lanes
The way to analyze natural paths or traffic lanes is to review the steps taken in a normal day’s routine. Paths from one room to another, to closets, and cupboards and to the telephone and outside doors all should be uncluttered and fairly direct. These traffic lanes are natural room dividers; they must be kept in mind when furniture groupings are being placed.
Hall furniture should be placed along one wall so there will be a straight, uncluttered path through the hallway. If the living room acts as an entrance hall, or as a hall to a stairway or another area of the house, the furnishings should be so arranged that a direct path is open. In bedrooms keep the natural paths between closets, dressing areas, and the room entrances open and unblocked by furniture.
- Natural Space Divisions:
Furniture groupings must be placed according to natural space divisions. If one part of a living room is cut off from the rest of the room by a traffic lane or an archway, a furniture grouping that can function in isolation should be assigned to it. A desk group, a lounge-chair reading group, a piano or game group would work well in such isolation. Conversational groupings should be centered so they can expand. They should be planned so they are not crossed by traffic lanes.
- Natural Light Areas:
The placement of furniture should take advantage of natural light. Turn a flat-top desk out from a window so the light falls on the desk instead of in the writer’s eyes. Place reading groups near windows, if possible. Place dressing table mirrors where the natural light will fall on the person reflected.
- Open Living Spaces:
It is important to the beauty and usefulness of a room to have open living spaces. A small bedroom will look much large if twin beds arranged at right angles in a corner, leaving the center of the room clear. To avoid blocking the center of a small living room, use large end tables or a nest of end tables instead of a large coffee table. Can you think of other space making arrangements?
- Effect of Architectural Features:
Some rooms have an architectural feature of great beauty. It may be a fireplace, a picture window, or a built-in bookcase. Whatever it is, this architectural feature should be accentuated by the furniture arrangement.
- A Fireplace: If you have a fireplace, the furniture should be arranged around it to give it importance. The inside of an artificial fireplace should be painted dull black so the fireplace appears to have been used. Real logs arranged as if they will be lit later on will be more attractive than an electric fire.
- A Picture Window: A picture window becomes particularly important if it overlooks a fine view. If the window goes to the floor, the groupings around it can be the same as for a fireplace. A picture window with a higher window sill can become the center of a conversational grouping by placing a bench or low sofa below the window. Do not black a picture window with a table and lamp.
- A bookcase: A built-in bookcase can be a focal point for a functional grouping. This is especially true if the shelving holds electronic entertainment equipment such as a TV or a phonograph in addition to books and objects of art. The furniture arrangement can be similar to that suggested for the fireplace or picture window.
- Effect of Architectural Faults
There are very few houses or apartments that do not have some architectural faults. It may be the proportion of a room that is wrong or an archway that is too large. It may be a complete lack of separation of an important functional area. Whatever it is, the careful placement of furniture can help to minimize these faults.
- Widen a narrow room: If a room is too narrow, it can be made to appear wider by placing large pieces of furniture at the extreme ends of the room and by keeping high pieces near the corners. Placing furniture arrangements out from the well to break into the room length will also make the room appear to be wider.
- Reduce a wide archway: Some rooms have a large archway that makes it impossible to use an entire side or end to advantage. By filling in the archway on each side with bookshelves or with folding screens, it is possible to create protected space. This space can then be used for chair or desk groupings that require some feeling of isolation from general house hold traffic.
- Create hallways and room divisions: In many homes, the living room serves as entrance hall. A hall grouping of chest and chair and hall mirror on the wall nearest the outside door will create the effect of an entrance hall. If the living room furniture grouping on the opposite side of the door turns its back on the entrance area, the people in the living area will feel even more separated from those entering and going through to other parts of the house.
- Need for a focal point: A room is more effectively arranged when there is one specially important spot to which attention automatically turns. If there is no architectural focal point, it is possible to effectively create one with furniture. By reason of its size, a sofa grouping an become the focal point in a room, if the wall above it is dramatized. this can be done with a large picture, a picture grouping, or wall shelves that catch and command the eye. Similarly a pair of chairs plus a table, a lamp, and a footstool can become the focal point. A screen, a bookcase, or a high chest placed behind the chairs will raise the eye level and give height and emphasis to the grouping. A secretary desk that rise high on the wall, a flat-topped desk, or a phonograph or TV cabinet with a hanging bookshelf or a grouping of pictures on the wall above it can be developed as the focal point in a living room or family room. The focal point in a bedroom is usually a bed. For real importance, the wall above the bed should be dramatized with a picture or picture grouping or with canopy treatment that, by its height, dominates the room.