How to Set Up Your Living Room (Without a Focus on the TV)


These days, we tend to arrange living rooms with one thing in mind: making sure everyone can see the TV. But what’s ideal for television watching is often less than ideal for another time-honored living room pastime: conversation. In this post, I’m focusing on living room arrangements that are less amphitheater, and more intimate, cozy spots where you can have a lovely fireside chat (and maybe also fit a television, too).

A really elegant, and simple, way to create a conversational grouping is with two sofas positioned to face each other. In this room from Hus & Hem via Planete Deco, both the fire and the closeness of the seating create a feeling of cozy comfort. (This room could still function for TV watching, too, provided you’re willing to mount the TV over the fireplace.)

One way to make this work in a narrower living room is by placing a bench across from a full-sized sofa, as seen in this interior from Ash NYC.

This space from Libertyn Interiors demonstrates a slight twist on the two-sofas look: a sofa placed across from two armchairs. This is a bit of a lighter look, and allows more opportunities for circulating through the room.

I love this living room from One Kings Lane, which demonstrates how you can make a seating area focused on conversation work in a smaller living room—and have a TV, too. The two chairs placed opposite the sofa allow visitors to sit face-to-face with their host, but are low-backed so as not to block the TV behind.

This California apartment isn’t particularly large at around 800 square feet, but the living room still manages to squeeze in quite a bit of seating, grouped cozily into a nice conversational circle.

A setup like the one seen in the living room of this Cape Town home, with two armchairs arranged at right angles to the sofa, allows for conversation but could also allow for a television too (perched on a console placed parallel to the sofa).

The living room of this Los Angeles home displays a bit of a variation on the above, with one chair to the right of the sofa and one across from it.

If you regularly host a lot of people (or just have a very large family), you could try a setup like this one from Nordic Design, where three different sofas form a cozy ‘U’.

The deep leather armchairs in this living room from Elle Decor look like an ideal place for a cozy chat.

In the Manhattan apartment of David Coggins, spotted on the Bonobos blog, two leather armchairs, grouped around the fireplace, make a cozy spot for conversation.

This library from Domino has a similar setup. This would make a great solution for small spaces where there just isn’t room for a full-sized sofa. Sitting next to someone on a loveseat can be an awkward position for conversation, but two chairs angled to face each other is perfect for a tête-à-tête.

In this room from Lisa Sherry Interieurs, via Planete Deco two chairs placed opposite each other form a cozy conversational nook, separate from the rest of the room’s seating. This is a possible solution for a room that’s just a little on the large side, where a single conversational grouping would seem small and lost.

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