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Living Room Layout: How to Decorate Around a Recliner (or Two!)

The chair that is now infamously known as the father of all recliners, La-Z-Boy was invented in 1928. For a long time, this piece of furniture was the centerpiece of American households. If your family owned a reclining chair, you know it was a hot commodity.

Living Room Layout - How to Decorate Around a Recliner
How to Decorate Around a Recliner

These days, recliners have to compete with functionality and style. The living room layout is often tricky to conquer, with couches, sofas, loveseats, and ottomans taking up space. If your living room falls into this category, we feel your pain.

How to Decorate Around a Recliner (or Two!)

There’s nothing more challenging than figuring out how to balance practicality and aesthetics in the family room. Don’t worry, you can have your own slice of Zen while keeping the rest of the family happy. This short guide will show you how to ace the hardest interior decorating lesson.

This is how you work with recliners and large couches.


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Useable Space

Before we dive into arranging furniture based on what looks good or matching a specific theme, we need to map out our space. If you live in a small condo, where the kitchen and dining areas are combined, don’t panic. You’re not limited to pushing everything to the margins.

If you have a one-person recliner, you should give it around a foot of clearance from the wall. The back of the recliner needs that small buffer to account for travel. We’re including the immediate extension, as well as gradual edging backward from use.

Leather Precautions

Next, you’ll need to think about traffic and light exposure. If you’re an owner of a leather recliner, then you’ll need to consider sunlight damage. The two biggest elements of leather wear and fading are oils and UV rays.

If you place your leather recliner in the middle of the living space, for example, you’re going to get a lot of hands touching it. This is by habit, not much you can do besides transforming into some leather dictator whenever people come over. For a two-person recliner, you may want to consider position flanking chairs, sofas, or loveseats.

You can find out more about these big two-person recliners and how to get one. For the rest of this guide, we’ll address the standard one-seaters for the sake of brevity.

So, avoid direct sun exposure and fireplaces, if you want to keep your leather recliner supple, vibrant, and smooth.

Interior Design Tips

Once you’ve surveyed the space that you have to work with, it’s time to picture how you want to fill it. Are you starting from scratch or do you have furniture you want to include? Building your living room theme around your recliner is the most ideal situation.

Then, you can start matching textures, colors, and accent pieces. For those who have a bit of a hodgepodge of furniture styles thrown together, you have one choice: consolidate into matching sets or stick to chaos.

Going the ‘reclaimed, recycled, eccentric’ route can work really well. You’ll need to go all out, though. Search for retro fixtures, animal skin rugs, vintage car accessories, signage, and so forth.

Everything should still look intentional, whether you’re introducing a set theme from Ikea or a bunch of pieces from a salvage shop. Let the recliner be the star of the show and give the eyes something to look at. Follow basic color principals when you can and try reupholstering if you can’t find or afford a matching piece.

Colored trims, nailheads, throws, wingback covers, stains, and lacquers can transform your living room layout on a budget. You have the power to alter and control the theme of your decor. Don’t do it all on your own, either, get advice from experienced designers and home supply stores.

Running into a former contractor, house designer, or carpenter isn’t uncommon at the cash register. Hey, it beats retiring and becoming a couch vegetable.

Approaching the Living Room Layout

As you are assembling your pieces and refining your color themes, it’s time for the big test: will it all fit? Your goal is to avoid competing for space, whether you have a living room with two sofas or four chairs. The way you do that is to play with direction.

For example, if you’re trying to optimize a condo space with odd-shaped corners, use the wall as a guide. Trying to go diagonal for style points isn’t always practical unless you have like three pieces of furniture. You’ll also need to consider directions facing the TV if you watch a lot of it.

This might limit what you can do with your layout design, though. We can’t recommend furniture sliders for easy moving. We require it of you if you want to achieve a realistic living room layout.

Not only do these spacers make the initial placement easier and protect your floors, but they also allow adaptable designs. If you can find harmony with your furniture layout, but need to shift everything to watch the game, you won’t need to compromise.

Corners and Wasted Space

While you are rearranging your furniture, you’ll probably instinctively avoid the corners. The truth is, it’s probably the best place to put a recliner or a large sofa. The corner will protect the chair from foot traffic and it will probably receive the least amount of direct sunlight.

Corners are also good for hiding the true bulkiness of a recliner. This new space is excellent for a little book reading or privacy. If you don’t like the recliner in the corner, consider placing a table in one with a couple of small chairs.

The reason behind using up corner space like this is to break the monotony of living room designs. We all tend to gravitate towards the circular positioning and leave a lot of space unused.

Details and Accessories

Once you’ve decided on a general layout, it’s time to start adding in your creature comforts and accessories. We’ll start with the lighting. It’s all too common for living rooms to either be flooded with light or not have enough.

The reason is usually that your typical ceiling fan lights or side lamps are giving this giant cone of directional light. The best setups will use a mix of ambient light and focused lights. You don’t need anything fancy, a couple of floor lamps or wall lights for your ambient light.

You could also opt for a chandelier lantern, too. Those give great control over the coverage of light. Try to use either flexible floor lamps or desk lamps to give you spotlight control. This will depend on which types of tables you want to have beside your furniture.

Add some color and texture to your furniture with throws, duvets, thin fabrics, and pillows. Include a nice lumbar support pillow for guests with bad backs. Those little pillows work wonders for anyone doing a lot of sitting.

Alternative Solutions

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get that recliner to mesh well with your living room layout. Consider looking into more streamlined push-back recliners. They don’t need to look like an oversized Lay-Z-boy, there are plenty of modern looks these days.

Your grandpa might not approve, but we guarantee they’re as comfortable as the old styles. Plus, you’ll have access to more options on materials and builds.

If that still doesn’t seem to answer your call for help, consider hiring someone who can. There’s no shame in hiring an interior designer, even if you’re not rich. Spend an hour with someone who’s designed houses for hundreds of customers.

Their experience will eliminate the guesswork and provide you with solutions that would have taken you months to figure out. They’ll even know what to buy and where to buy it, often from sources that the average Joe doesn’t know about.

More Than Two Couches

We know how hard it is to organize and define a stylish living room layout. When you have more than one large piece of furniture, the task can seem daunting. Don’t forget to breathe and use those furniture sliders!

At the end of the day, your vision will come to you, keep experimenting. If you have one of those two-seater recliners, two couches in living room spaces shared with the dining room, or too much furniture in general, consider downsizing. Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes time to move.

If you enjoyed this guide to conquering the living room layout, there’s plenty more at Dreamlands Design. This is the place to go if you have any home renovation projects or interior design questions.

Visit the Tips Section for guides like this and professional advice for improving the comfort of your home.


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