Fireplaces are both functional and beautiful. Some homes use them as an active source of heat, while others use them as decorative centerpieces. In either case, the fireplace lends a cozy ambiance to a room that is best played up with wisely chosen furniture.
The importance of focusing on the fireplace is different in each home. Some homes also feature a large screen TV or picture windows with a stunning view that is meant to be showcased from the home’s interior. Read on to learn about multiple options that homeowners and stagers have for making the most of a fireplace.
The Primary Focal Point Fireplace
The fireplace that is designed to be a centerpiece of the room can be positive or negative, depending on the lifestyle of the homeowner. Most homeowners love the charm of a fireplace and want to design the living room furniture layout to feature the fireplace.
The fireplace can be used as a primary focal point or a secondary focal point, depending on the size of the room and other eye-catching assets in the room. For rooms where the primary focus is the fireplace, the furniture should be arranged around this focal point.
- Start with a rug to draw the eye from other parts of the room to the fireplace. This will work the opposite as well, drawing the eyes from the lovely fireplace out to the other pieces of furniture and then away to the rest of the room.
- Consider painting an accent color on the wall that features the fireplace. The fireplace sits more or less low to the floor. This is fine aesthetically when people are sitting near the fireplace, but the accent can be extended upward with a bold or complementary color.
- If the fireplace is in a room that doubles as a living room and family room, then it is highly likely that the room will also have a TV. Many homeowners mount the TV over the fireplace to avoid dividing the focus between a TV and the fireplace.
- There are ways to hide the TV from view so that it is not in competition with the fireplace when it is not being used. We will discuss these options later in this article.
- TVs can be placed on the same wall as the fireplace without being mounted directly above it. The furniture design will need to be wider to incorporate both focal points. Alternatively, two separate seating arrangements can be made.
- A TV placed at the opposite side of the room from the fireplace can create a high level of attention competition. This is not the easiest room to pull together, but it can be done with some creative furniture.
- The amount of space that is allotted between the fireplace and the first set of chairs or the side of the couch is determined by both the available space and the furniture material. Leather will deteriorate quickly when exposed to heat, so keep it further away.
- A large amount of furniture can still feel intimate if it is placed in close proximity to the other pieces. Furniture placed further apart feels more airy and grand.
- Most living rooms are meant for gathering, so it is better to keep seating spaces closer together. A very large room should be divided into multiple intimate seating areas that can be moved to accommodate larger groups.
When the fireplace is the focal point of the room, it is much easier to design the furniture around it in an aesthetically pleasing way. Those who are designing a new home should keep this in mind.
Symmetrical Furniture Designs around the Fireplace
Some homeowners prefer incorporating symmetry into the furniture design. Not everyone prefers symmetry, but there are a few reasons why this is a classic and well-loved approach to furniture placement.
- Symmetry brings a sense of order to a room. It does not leave as many questions as to the function, design, and activities that are appropriate for the room.
- Symmetry brings a sense of well-being, peace, and harmony to the space. This ambiance transfers the sense of well-being and harmony to those who spend time in the space.
- Strict symmetry feels a little more formal and brings a richness to the room. This is a nice way to feature high-end furniture.
- Symmetrical furniture placement can be softened with small details that are imperfect such as live plants, fun printed pillows, throw blankets, and placing some chairs slightly off-center.
Here are a few examples of ways to use symmetrical furniture design that keeps the focal point directly on the fireplace.
Two Couches and Chairs
This design incorporates two couches and at least two chairs arranged symmetrically.
- Place a rectangular rug of any width in front of the fireplace with the short end running parallel to the fireplace.
- Place matching couches or a couch and a divan on either side of the fireplace. These will run perpendicular to the fireplace.
- Place a coffee table between the two couches and a side table at each end.
- At the end of the couches place at least two comfortable chairs. This will create a rectangular space. The people who sit in this space will be able to easily converse as well as look at the fire and enjoy the mood that it sets.
- This design can be softened by placing the chairs at a slight angle, both pointing toward the center of the fireplace. Place a round table in-between the chairs. Add soft throw blankets and pillows to the couches and chairs.
- This furniture placement allows seating for a larger group of people and encourages conversation by placing them face to face.
No matter how furniture is arranged in the room, a focus on keeping visitors face to face is always the most friendly and engaging way to arrange the seating.
One Couch and Multiple Chairs
This symmetrical arrangement is easy to mix up depending on the group that is visiting together. The chairs are easily moved to create a more conversational atmosphere or moved closer or farther away from the fireplace as desired.
- Place a rectangle or square rug in front of the fireplace, depending on the shape of the room.
- In this arrangement, the couch is at the opposite end of the room away from the fireplace. It is facing exactly parallel to the fireplace.
- Chairs are arranged in matching numbers on both sides of the fireplace and forming a U-shape with the couch at the end.
- This shape can be bowed out slightly to increase visibility for the fireplace.
- This shape can be pinched inward slightly to create more of a conversational circle.
- A coffee table in the center and matching side tables complete the look.
- Because this design is based on chairs with an accent couch, it will look less formal and more relaxed. Include accent pillows and throw blankets to encourage lingering in the space.
Many people like to have a couch as part of the seating arrangement. This seating is more uncomfortable for guests who appreciate the availability of more personal space, but it is much appreciated by couples and children who want to sit close.
A Sectional Couch
This is a classic piece of living room furniture. It does not work in small spaces. In a large room, a U-shaped sectional can be placed to encompass the seating area around the fireplace. A narrow coffee table may be placed in the middle if the sectional is wide enough to accommodate it.
An L-shaped sectional couch can also be used by placing the shortest wing of the sectional at the end of the room and parallel to the fireplace. Use multiple matching chairs to complete the U-shape opposite the couch.
A note on divans: these are sometimes used in seating arrangements made by interior designers and they are sometimes attached to sectional couches. These look fancy and comfortable, but they are not a wise addition to a room that is intended to seat visitors as well as family. Visitors will feel uncomfortable lying on a divan, but it is not a very comfortable chair because it lacks a back and armrest.
This is a great way to provide enough seating for a lot of people without creating awkward personal space issues, though it is a much more casual way to set up the seating area. The number of chairs is dependent on the size of the room. All or most of the chairs should match to keep a symmetrical appearance.
- A larger number of matching, comfortable chairs can be arranged in a U-shape with the fireplace as the focal point.
- A minimum of six chairs can be used, creating a square shape. Ideally, the room should feature at least eight chairs. Two at the end facing the fireplace with three flanking them on each side.
- The chairs can easily be arranged to change the shape depending on the needs of the room at the time. This is also a great way to approach furniture arrangements for rooms that also feature a TV. Chairs can be set up theater-style for movies and arranged in a circle for conversation and games.
- This arrangement can feature a loveseat at the end facing the fireplace. This loveseat is flanked by a chair on each side of it, and matching chairs leading to the fireplace.
The addition of a loveseat adds an opportunity for close seating without adding any length to the end section of the seating arrangement. Guests may not choose this space, but for couples, a loveseat is a nice asset in the room.
Asymmetrical Furniture Around the Fireplace
Some homeowners do not appreciate the seeming stiffness of symmetry. These people enjoy the chaos and playfulness that comes with asymmetry. Asymmetry happens naturally when furniture is unmatched or made of a variety of styles of seating.
While asymmetry is not as popular of a way to design furniture because it often comes off as amateur or unplanned, there are ways to design asymmetrical aspects into furniture placement that still look well put together and welcoming while keeping the focus on the fireplace.
The Sectional Couch
This is the hardest piece of furniture to make asymmetrical because it is naturally designed in a proportional L or U-shape. A good way to break up the natural symmetry of a sectional couch is to place it at an odd angle to the fireplace.
- Place a large rectangular or square area rug at an angle to the fireplace with a corner pointing at the middle of the fireplace.
- Place the L-shaped sectional couch so that it matches the outer edges of the area rug.
- This placement creates a V out of the sectional, with the corner seat looking straight at the fireplace.
- This furniture placement can be finished off with a couple of chairs on the short end of the sectional to complete the V.
- The chairs can be placed to face each other slightly, rounding off that side of the V and creating a more intimate space.
- A round or oval table in the middle of the V finishes the look.
This is still remarkably symmetrical but in a different way. Those who wish to break up this symmetry further can place remaining chairs in a line going away from the short side of the couch so that they also face the fireplace. This type of placement will break up the conversational potential of those pieces of furniture, so it is not advisable.
The only way to incorporate asymmetrical furniture design without descending into furniture mismatch and chaos is with a series of chairs. The chairs can be matched or unmatched, depending on the level of asymmetry desired. Chairs can be chosen that are in fun complimentary prints and colors.
- Chairs can be placed in any shape that is desired for the activity at the time.
- They can be placed in a semicircle around the fireplace.
- Chairs can be placed in two rows or a pinched V shape that opens toward both sides of the fireplace.
There are other ways to use a series of chairs in a living room with a fireplace. Chairs are ideal for use when the fireplace is not the only focal point in the room. We will discuss this situation next.
The Secondary Focal Point Fireplace
This is the most common presentation for rooms that feature a fireplace. In these rooms, the fireplace is in competition with the television for focus. Occasionally the fireplace is in competition with a view window or a bank of windows.
Poor furniture placement in a room with more than one focus can create tension. There are ways to orient the furniture to best incorporate the features of the room without creating a conflict.
The best way to deal with a TV and fireplace in the same room is to place the TV over the fireplace. This way the furniture can be set up to appreciate both the TV and the fireplace without creating conflict. If the TV is mounted over the fireplace or set on the fireplace mantel, then the furniture can be arranged as though the fireplace is the primary focus.
Unfortunately, this is not always desirable or possible, and the TV is placed in a different location than the fireplace. Most families want to be able to watch TV more often than they want to enjoy the fireplace, so the TV becomes the primary focus and the fireplace is the secondary focus.
- If the TV cannot be mounted above the fireplace or placed on the mantel, then try to place it on the same wall as the fireplace.
- If the TV is on the same wall as the fireplace, then create a wider symmetrical furniture pattern that incorporates both the TV and the fireplace.
- Place a longer couch facing the TV and fireplace wall, then flank it with chairs on either side. A rectangular or square rug can pull the pieces together.
- Chairs can be set in a wider semicircle that faces both the TV and the fireplace. A rectangular rug set with a long edge parallel to the TV and fireplace brings the space into unison.
If the TV is set too far away from the fireplace to incorporate both focal points comfortably in a single furniture configuration, then the room is likely wide enough to accommodate two sitting areas. A more intimate seating area can be created around the fireplace, with a less intimate seating area focusing on the TV.
- Two overstuffed chairs with a table can be set for an intimate space that focuses on enjoying the fireplace. This is a great place to incorporate a shared side table or round coffee table and a decorative floor lamp to add a warm glow for reading.
- A loveseat and two chairs make a beautiful gathering place for a fireplace that is a secondary seating area. Place two chairs facing the loveseat. Both rows of furniture run perpendicular to the fireplace.
- Alternatively, the loveseat can face the fireplace and be flanked by a comfortable chair on each side that faces inward creating a small U-shaped design. A small oval coffee table brings an alluring curve to the area.
- These designs welcome those who desire quiet or friendly conversations around the warm ambiance of the fire while leaving the TV area free for those who wish to gather and watch a favorite show.
This dual seating area design works for spaces that are large and square or large and rectangular. Smaller spaces that have the TV in a separate area from the fireplace will most likely incorporate a seating area with split attention between the fireplace and the TV. We will cover this scenario next.
The Fireplace That Sits Opposite the TV
This situation can feel like a bit of a nightmare to the homeowner who wants to keep the fireplace as an aesthetic focus but finds that this focus is ripped away by a large screen TV that gets most of the attention.
In narrow rooms where the TV is not mounted above the fireplace, it is sometimes mounted on the opposite wall. If the room is short and narrow, this can be accommodated easily, though it may not feel as cozy as a room with the two mounted together.
- In a narrow room, place the seating areas along the wall. This will create two long lines of seating with the fireplace at one end and the TV at the other end. Those seated in the space will choose which direction to look, depending on the focus at the time.
- This style of seating can feel very unimaginative, but it can be broken up in several ways to keep it feeling fresh.
- Place a long couch on one wall, and balance it with several comfortable chairs and a couple of round console tables on the other side.
- Try placing a long narrow coffee table in the middle of the room, but place it off-center toward the couch, and place a console table for the use of those seated in the chairs.
While the placement of the TV on the opposite wall from the fireplace is not ideal, it is sometimes the only way to place a large screen TV in a room that has a fireplace. The space can still be made warm, cozy, and welcoming by focusing on the fireplace on the other end of the room.
Make a Small Convertible Seating Area
It is possible, even in a narrow room, to make a small focal point area for the fireplace that can be converted to TV viewing when desired.
- Place couches or chairs along the walls of the room as desired to view the TV.
- Place two comfortable chairs on either side of the fireplace, facing each other.
- Use a small square area rug to tie them together.
- Purchase swiveling stuffed chairs and use them to close in a little four-seat U-shape that faces the fireplace.
- The swiveling chairs can be rotated around for TV viewing.
- If desired, the two chairs that flank the fireplace can also be moved for TV viewing.
Convertible seating areas are a perfect way to make great use of a small room. Elegant chairs can be found that recline, rock, and swivel. These chairs are comfortable and can be moved or rotated to be used in different areas of the room.
Obscure the TV in a Shared Space
There are several different ways to obscure the TV when it is not wanted so that it does not take away focus from the fireplace. This is a nice touch because even when the TV is off it is such a large part of the wall space that it is pretty impossible to completely ignore.
The TV can be placed inside a TV console with closing doors, or placed inside a built-in cabinet. Either way, the doors can be closed when the TV is not wanted so that it is not a big black rectangle on the wall at all times. This makes the fireplace shine.
The TV can be hidden behind a piece of hinged artwork. The artwork can be hinged on a box that is custom-made to fit the TV. This only works for those who watch TV occasionally or have a smaller TV because usually, the wide swing of the artwork can be obtrusive. A good artisan may be able to create this artwork cabinet out of two pieces that close in the middle with a tight seam.
Use the TV as a piece of artwork. There are smart TVs that can project artwork, photos, and other ambient designs on the screen when they are not in use. Many homeowners do not know about these functions or forget to use them. They are a wonderful way to obscure the giant screen and forget about it while simultaneously enjoying some lovely and changing scenes.
If no other solution can be found, a simple attractive curtain on rings can be pulled over the top of a TV that is in a shared room. Choose a curtain that matches other fabrics or curtains in the room, and hang a matching curtain rod. This will complete the illusion.
Does the Sofa Have to Face the TV?
This is a question posed by many homeowners who feel frustrated that the natural propensity is to focus all of life around the glowing television. The answer is that no, the sofa does not have to face the TV. In fact, when the sofa faces the TV, then the only thing that comes to mind when sitting on the sofa is to turn on the TV.
Furniture placement is very suggestive and can sway the behaviors that take place in a room. Creating a furniture arrangement that is solely focused on each seat having a prime TV view does not suggest that those using the furniture should talk, play games together, or even look each other in the eye.
For this reason, friendly living room arrangements should keep the primary focus on seating arrangements that encourage interpersonal time, while allowing either easy rearrangement for TV watching or the option to turn the head in a different direction to watch TV.
Rooms that are large enough to host more than one seating arrangement should place a smaller TV-focused seating area in one part of the room. A larger person-focused seating area can take up a different part of the room and be arranged to encourage conversation and relationships.
The Secondary Focal Point Fireplace With a Window
This setup is not a problem. In fact, it is enviable. In this type of home, the fireplace is set on a wall that also has one or more large windows that look out onto a sweeping view. Those who sit in any seat in this area have a rich array of viewing options, and none of them leave anything to be desired.
Use a narrow rectangular fireplace-focused furniture placement with swivel chairs. Swiveling chairs allow people to both interact and enjoy sweeping views without rearranging furniture.
Create an open L-shaped seating arrangement that maximizes the view. This type of seating arrangement is focused more on peace and tranquility than it is on interpersonal communication. The longer the short side of the L is, the more people will see other faces and be encouraged to interact.
- Place an L-shaped sectional in the room with the long side facing the fireplace and windows. Elongate the short side with another chair or two. This leaves much of the room open for an unobstructed view while encouraging conversation.
- Close in the L of a sectional with more swiveling seating.
- Do not place seats next to the fireplace and windows unless they can be swiveled. These seats will never be used because they force those sitting in them to face into the room.
- Swivel chairs that are seated next to the windows and fireplace should be low-profile chairs to avoid blocking much of the view, and also have accompanying low console tables.
- Place a long couch facing the fireplace and windows. Flank the couch with chairs at a slight angle to create a wide rectangle that flares out toward the sides.
- Pull the room together with a wide rectangular area rug.
If a TV is in the room, it should be mounted above the fireplace. If this is not possible, then it should be placed in another room or mounted on a different wall with a seating arrangement to focus on it only.