How to Arrange Furniture to Include a Recliner

Placing a recliner in your living room, den or family room adds the comfort and relaxation that makes a house a home -- but it can also pose a challenge. The size of the recliner, its ability to fold out and extend its footprint, and the need to orient it to focal points and seating areas require more attention on your part than simply adding a chair or ottoman. However, you can make the task easier if you:

  • Choose a focal point that will orient your room arrangement. Examples include a fireplace, an entertainment center with a TV, built-in bookshelves or a window wall with a view.
  • Consider scale when buying a recliner. If you have a large room with abundant space, choose an amply proportioned recliner. If space is limited, consider getting a wall-hugger or small-space recliner. These compact pieces offer full-sized comfort within a small footprint. Some can be fully extended even when placed 2 to 3 inches from a wall.
  • Use accurate measurements to within 1 inch of your furniture when creating a floor plan. For the recliner, you will need to measure both when it is upright and fully extended. If you're planning to purchase a recliner, the store should have this information.
  • Save your back by making templates of your furniture. Tape together sheets of newspaper and trim to the dimensions you measured for your major pieces -- sofa, love seat, chairs, coffee table, end tables and the recliner. The recliner template should be the size of the extended recliner; mark lines so you can fold the paper to the dimensions of the upright recliner. This will help you see how the recliner in use relates to the other furniture pieces.
  • Clear the floor space, lay the templates on the floor, and move them around until you are satisfied with the arrangement.
  • Provide clearance between the furnishings when you create your arrangement. Allow 18 inches of space between the coffee table and the surrounding furniture, making sure the recliner allows this clearance when it is extended.

Balanced Living Room Arrangement

Follow these steps to integrate a recliner into a living room arrangement with sofa, love seat and chairs, while still maintaining balance.

Step 1

Select your focal point and place the sofa, or largest piece of furniture, facing it. Place a coffee table in front of the sofa and parallel to it.

Step 2

Place the love seat, or two armchairs, at one end of the sofa and at right angles to it.

Step 3

Place the recliner at the other end of the sofa, at a 45-degree angle, and spaced so adequate clearance is between it and the wall when fully extended. Also, allow 18 inches of walkway clearance at the front and sides of the recliner when it is fully extended.

Step 4

Fill in the corners between furniture pieces with end tables and lamps. If desired, you can make a U-shaped arrangement by placing an end table and an accent chair on the same side of the arrangement as the recliner. Place the accent chair at an angle so it faces toward the coffee table.

Step 5

If you have a small living room or den, you can adapt this arrangement by paring down your furniture choices to these essentials: small sofa or love seat, recliner and armchair. Place the sofa so it faces the focal point. Position the chair at a right angle on one end of the sofa and the recliner at a 45-degree angle at the opposite end. Put a coffee table in front of the sofa and fill in the corners with end tables and lamps. Extra seating can be provided with small occasional chairs and ottomans.

Home Theater Arrangement

If you often host movie nights for family and friends, make the TV wall the focal point of an arrangement that serves as a home theater. Eliminate the sofa and place two recliners or a recliner paired with an armchair side by side facing the TV. Arrange club chairs, angled to face the TV, on either side of this grouping. Place end tables between these furniture pieces and lamps where needed to provide illumination. Instead of a coffee table, use lightweight ottomans that can serve both as extra table space and extra seating when needed.

Separate Seating Area as Reading Nook

If you have a long, narrow space or another awkward arrangement, such as an L-shaped living room, make two seating areas with different functions to get maximum use out of the room. Make a reading nook centered around the recliner at one end of the room or in the short arm of the L-shape. Accessorize the corner with a lamp, end table, and bookshelf or floor basket to hold reading material. In the larger end of the room, create a conventional seating with an appropriately scaled sofa or love seat, armchairs and a coffee table.