How to Choose the Right Size Furniture for a Room

You’ve just spotted that perfect sofa on the showroom floor. 

Ideal style? Check. Stain-resistant fabric? Check. But will it fit in your living room? If it’s too big, the room will feel crowded. Too small, and your space will look empty. 

For starters, don’t be afraid to bring along the tape measure when you’re shopping around. Beyond that, design experts emphasize the principles of scale and proportion for choosing the right size furniture. 

  • Scale refers to how the size of one object — such as your sofa — relates to the size of other objects — like your coffee table or chairs. 
  • Proportion refers to the scale of design elements within a single object, such as how the size, shape, texture and color of the cushions relate to your sofa.

Let’s review some tips for finding comfortable, stylish furniture that’s also the right fit for your space and your lifestyle.

Start with the Room Itself

If you don’t already know the square footage of your space, go ahead and measure it. That’ll give you an idea of how big your furniture should be. 

A good rule of thumb is that large pieces look best in large rooms and vice versa. However, there are exceptions: A big sofa can work in a smaller space if paired with smaller chairs for a sense of balance. 

Remember to think vertically as well as horizontally. A tall bookshelf, for example, will look fabulous in a room with a high ceiling. For spaces with low ceilings, love seats and other more modest items create an intimate, cozy ambience. 

Choose a Design Focal Point

Think like a casting director: Let one piece of furniture be the “star” of the room while the other, often smaller items, function as a supporting cast. This might be a big, cushy sofa in the living room, surrounded by a stylish coffee table and slender chairs. Other examples might include an elegant dining room table or a luxurious bed in the master suite. 

Use Negative Space

To make your room feel complete but not crowded, aim for what designers call the golden ratio. That means filling about 60 percent of your floor space with furniture while leaving the other 40 percent uncovered. Consider the pathways you’re creating around your furniture, and make sure it’s easy for people to move around freely. 

  • Leave a walkway in the living room at least 30 inches wide, and about 14-18 inches between the sofa and coffee table. 
  • In the dining room, there should be at least 36 inches between the table and the wall on all sides, and at least 6 inches between chairs. 
  • In the bedroom, allow a minimum of 2 feet on either side of the bed.

Avoid pushing furniture right up against the wall. Instead, pull it out a few inches so it has room to “breathe.” You can also make that beautiful painting even more eye-catching by leaving plenty of white space around it on the wall. 

Look for Multitasking Furniture

If square footage is limited, look for multifunctional furnishings that fit your space while adding functionality. Choose a couch that doubles as a sleeper or one with hidden storage under the cushions. There are many other great options for getting more mileage out of your furniture:

  • A coffee table with shelves to hold extra books 
  • A console table that doubles as a desk 
  • An ottoman that functions as a footstool or extra seating 
  • Upholstered cubes that could make nice end tables, seating or footstools

Create the Illusion of More Space

Besides choosing the right size, there are many furniture design elements that can make a room feel bigger. 

  • An armless couch or compact love seat will give you plenty of comfort while taking up less room. 
  • Tables and chairs with slender legs leave you with more visible floor space. 
  • Lighter colors give almost any room a more spacious feel. Select a glass-top table or white, cream or light gray woods and upholstery.


If you’re looking for advice on selecting the perfect furniture for your home, we invite you to pay us a visit at Lifestyles Furniture. Our showroom features a wide assortment of contemporary, American-made furniture, and most items can be customized to match your existing decor. 

Want to learn more? Contact us online at any time or call 573-874-1550.

Jerome Rackers

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