How to Arrange Furniture Around a Fireplace

Don't let a poorly planned furniture arrangement interfere with your fireplace's right to be the center of attention. Although living-room designs differ in size, shape and available wall space, you have various ways to arrange the sofa, side chairs and tables so they appear comfortably nestled, and not thoughtlessly crammed in, spread out or in the fireplace's way -- establishing it as the focal point.

Tight Spots

Even a small room with a fireplace can have big design energy. Group compact furniture similar to the way you would if the fireplace were a television -- especially if you're rearranging the setting for the cooler seasons when flickering flames will be a mesmerizing part of the room's attraction; in a small room, possibly the best or only place for a flat-screen TV is over the mantel, anyhow.

Anchor the setting with a rug; avoid a space-wasting oval or round rug, and opt for a space-thrifty square or rectangle, depending on the room's shape.

Angular Arrangements

The corner fireplace or an angular room present slight design challenges, but don't let either throw your furniture off course. Depending on the room's size, configuration and proximity to other spaces, such as a dining room, you may have to square the arrangement with the fireplace front, ignoring the room's shape; angle the seating or use a compact sectional to form a V out from the focal point; or leave an open sight-line for both living room loungers and dining table dwellers to enjoy the crackling flames.

Depending on floor space, a rug or two can make sense of an irregular setting; again, use the room's size and shape -- long and narrow or short and choppy -- as a rug-selection guide.

Big and Bold

You might think having an abundance of square feet equates to design freedom, however, without creating an overstuffed and cluttered, or "barren-wasteland" effect. Pull furniture away from the walls, leaving at least a hallway-width pathway between the grouping and surrounding walls and fireplace, if possible.

For an overly large space, pull the grouping even farther from the fireplace, keeping it square with the focal point. Position a small rug with a pair of chairs set on an angle with the fireplace -- as if flanking or framing it -- to help fill the created space, if needed. Decorate the wall around and above the fireplace minimally to limit visual distractions.

  • Sleek, leggy pieces go with a long, low, contemporary built-in unit.
  • Plush, classic furniture complements a traditional brick or stone fireplace.