Living Room Update – Furniture Layout

I looked back at the poll I posted last week…

TV poll

…and the results inspired me to play around with a photo of our living room so that Kevin could get a better picture of what I am seeing in my mind.

First though, here’s how the room looked when we moved here in October of 2012:

The Lettered Cottage Living Room | Before

…and here’s a (zoomed-in) photo of the room right now:

Living Room | Now

We painted the walls and put up the planks last year, and we’ve been gathering seating and side tables, piece by piece, over the past couple of years, too.

We’d like to add some curtains and shades at some point this year, and then we’ll see about finding a great big rug or some carpet squares. In the meantime, we’ll keep having fun dreaming up fireplace ideas. We’d love to extend it up and out, so that it reaches all the way up to the ceiling, and sits out in front of some built-ins. Maybe sort of (but not necessarily exactly) like this:

Living Room | Idea 1

We love the idea of adding closed storage on the walls on each side of the fireplace, so that we have a place store/hide “stuff”. Guitars, toys…those kinds of things. I popped these lockers from Pottery Barn in my inspiration picture, but our built-ins wouldn’t necessarily look just like them:


There’s a junction box in the middle of the ceiling, so I’d love to add one of these galvanized ceiling fans from Ballard Designs at some point, too:

Galvanized Ceiling Fan


But this next inspiration photo is what I really wanted to show Kevin. I wanted to show him that by designing the doors on the built-ins so that they open and retract, we could mount the TV on an arm that extends and pivots behind them. See it peeking out from behind the door on the left in the photo below?

Living Room | Idea 2

Obviously the doors in the photo aren’t exactly the right kind, and nothing is to scale, but I just wanted him to get a feel for what that kind of layout would (sort of) look like.

Here’s why I like it:

– Symmetry, symmetry, symmetry.

– We don’t have a guest bedroom in this house, so having two sofas (that are as deep as twin beds, or that pull out into queen-size beds) would give us at 2-4 more places for visitors to sleep.

– Right now, our armchairs are to the side of the TV. I’d love for them to face it.

– Everybody would be able to face each other when they’re seated. Music and game nights would be so much more fun! :-)

– There would be endless possibilities for decorating (and re-decorating!) that planked wall!

Pottery Barn Wall Grouping

(All photos from

Kevin was pretty hooked on the idea of keeping our entertainment unit on the planked wall until he saw my inspiration photo last night. Now he’s leaning towards the two couches. Yay!

What do you think? One sofa facing the entertainment unit, or two sofas flanking the fireplace? Let’s do another poll, shall we? 😀

[poll id=”5″]

Thanks in advance for throwing your two cents in!

PS- Want to learn how to create your own inspiration photos using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements? Check out my Room Makeover Training Class over at!

Room Makeover Training Class Using Photoshop

I’ll post another reminder on Friday in case anyone is interested in signing up to take a peek on Monday. The training video will only be viewable for free on the 16th, but you’ll have full access to the class for those 24 hours, so you can see if it’s something you might want to invest in later! (The class is normally priced at $59)

Living Room Update - Two Sofas It Is!
23 Bungalow Court - House Tour

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  1. says

    I love the idea of (2) couches! I’ve always wanted to do this in our own home, but I’ve had a hard time biting the bullet for that big of an expense to get matching couches. Your inspiration board is perfection! :)

  2. Mary Pat Lambden says

    We went with two couches facing each other several years ago …. we have loved this, especially when we have big gatherings. We have a square coffee table in between with pull out shelves for putting your plates, etc. while having appetizers. so well!

    Absolutely love the new direction you’re envisioning 😉

  3. Christy Keyton says

    LOVE those planked wall ideas too! Go for two sofas – you will need it when you have parties.

  4. Amy says

    Where did you get your tv shelving unit that is currently in your room? It all looks great! Thanks!

  5. Allison M says

    Just an idea – ever thought about hiding the TV behind a painting or other art piece above your fireplace? It will still be concealed, the TV would be centered (the symmetry!), and you can still add some decor to the edges of the fireplace. I’m hoping to do this in my own home!

    Here is a great website that has some step-by-step directions:

    • Layla says

      Hi Allison!
      That’s actually the one thing we’ve agreed on from the start. Neither of us wants to look up to see the TV. We both have neck issues. :-/

  6. Shelley says

    Oops, I’m not sure where the rest of my message got to?
    Wondered if you considered a sectional facing the new cupboards and fireplace? There are some great pull out bed options too :)

    • Layla says

      Hi Shelley!
      Since we’ve already purchased the sofa and armchairs, I don’t think a sectional is an option. I had thought about it at one point, but I didn’t want to cut off the room so much.

  7. brenda says

    I have a challenge with sofas/couches as it has ben our experience that the two end seats are used and the middle areas remain vacant thus cutting out their usefulness if one is looking for maximum seating.

    • Layla says

      I’ve had that happen sometimes too, Brenda. But other times, there just aren’t enough seats to go around so everybody is forced to sit together! 😀

  8. Tina says

    And when the sofa is pulled a bit away from the wall it will be a perfect spot for Sweet P to have a hideaway or to perform puppet shows :)

  9. Barbara says

    I would go with two sofas but pull them away from the walls so that they float in the room.

  10. says

    I like the idea of 2 couches, but not sure that I like the TV on a side like that. That would be a lot of work to pull the TV out and put it back into the cabinet. I want easy access to my real housewives and other Bravo poop that I like to watch :)).

    • Layla says

      “Bravo poop”- LOL! 😀 We’re not huge TV watchers, so we’re okay with pulling it out for a show or two every now and then.

      • says

        We have our tv mounted on an arm inside a built-in next to the fireplace (whew that was a long description 😉 No doors on ours, just open. I LOVE the arm. The TV stays out sometimes, but it’s not hard to get in and out. A smidge awkward, but not bad. And the tv can be positioned for the best view this way, no matter where we’re sleeping, I mean sitting 😉

  11. Sherri Farrell says

    I love the two sofas, but I would pull them away from the walls…closer together with a big coffee table/ottoman between them. I have two sofas which are similar but upholstered in the same fabric facing each other in my living room.
    You always have the bestest ideas!!! Love the shelving!!!

  12. Janet Gleespen says

    I’ m loving the one sofa with your media enclosed ! You kept the
    Charm and the feeling of this where we spend quality time
    and added so much more interest with your display of items that
    tell a story it leads to great conversation. I like it.

  13. Ronda Liebert says

    Hi, if and when you build up the fireplace, could you incorporate a large door cabinet over the fireplace itself that you can open when you want to watch and close when you have company? You could even place artwork on the door itself to disquise a bit.

    Just a thought, because you could see it a lot better from the entire room that way.

    • Layla says

      Hi Ronda!
      Kevin and I both agree that we don’t want our TV above our fireplace, and since we don’t watch it that often, we’re actually okay with tucking it in a cabinet. :-)

  14. says

    Hi Layla,

    I just designed a room like this for a client. I had taken your Room Makeover class and I utilized what I had learned to share my vision with my client. It worked out really well! Email me and I will send you the inspirational pic! Thanks for the great class. I loved it!!

  15. Kari says

    I have almost this exact setup in my living room and while it works quite well for us, it has a few drawbacks that you may wish to consider. Like you, we don’t care for the TV close to the ceiling so we have ours to the right of the fireplace. (We chose the right side rather than the left because we didn’t want light shining in our eyes while we watched tv. Glare.) We first envisioned two couches facing each other and two chairs facing the fireplace just as you have it in your inspiration. We quickly realized that we did not enjoy watching tv with that configuration. (Not as big a deal before we had a child, but became a bigger deal as she grew and wanted to watch movies with us or her friends.) The two couches became bobsleds and our necks got sore angled sideways to see the tv. Also with the way flatscreen tvs project their pictures, a side angled view from the further sofa is weird and distorted and also the arm of the closer sofa blocks viewing from some seats in the room. For flat screens you sort of need a front facing view. Our less than perfect solution is that we have the long couch facing the fireplace and a pair of chairs on the window wall. I don’t love how the sofa sort of blocks access to the fireplace visually, but I do like how it creates a visual barrier to create a cozy room within a big room. And I like how the lighter look of chairs along the window wall preserves the light coming in.

    Whew, that was wordy! Just something for you to consider…

  16. Cindy in Oklahoma says

    I would make an L out of two sofas, flank the fireplace with the chairs and keep the entertainment center…. because that’s how my room is and we love it! 😉

  17. SJ says

    My personal opinion is that either option looks too busy. I would simplify and maybe put the 2 chairs in front of the windows and move the couch to the entertainment wall. Or a sectional like you had in your last home with the two chairs, but again, I’d remove the entertainment center.

  18. Bridey says

    It’s hard to tell without being in the room, but I tend to prefer wide rooms over long and skinny. The issue here is how much time do you actually spend watching tv and where you like to sit when you do. If it’s a couple hours a week, then hiding in the corner may be fine. But if you tend to watch a little (or a lot) more than that, then form should follow function so one doesn’t have to crane their neck or go to great lengths to close it up every time. I love the idea of a covered tv, but know that I would spend half my life closing the doors up because my hubby and six kids would always leave them open. (It was 110 here yesterday and I still had to remind all of them to close the slider door because the air was on!!)

    What ever you end up choosing will look fabulous and feel comfortable I am sure. It always does. Thanks for all the inspiration and eye candy.

  19. Cindy says

    I love your living room with two sofas and no entertainment center! Ya know, I think you should move both sofas away from the walls slightly so they’re closer to each other and put a square coffee table between them. It makes a much more intimate seating area. It would also make room for a sofa table or two to hold lamps and/or cute vignettes.

  20. Hollee NAdeau says

    Pretty much love everything you do so I don’t think you can go wrong. We were looking to plank the ceiling. I know you have done several things in the past. What is your vote on the cheapest was to plank a ceiling or wall? If you had to choose, what makes more of an impact. Not sure if I should plank the ceiling, the walls, a wall, or all the above.

  21. says

    I agree about using two sofas and eliminating the entertainment unit. Pulling everything to the middle of the room will make it more intimate but still have tons of seating! You might even have room for a great narrow table along your planked wall…similar to the layout in the Pottery Barn pics. Hope your hubby gets on board! :)

  22. says

    Since I am a photographer I love the idea of the flat screen tv playing photos while not being used. If it has to be exposed might as well use it.

    • Laura says

      How do you do that? Have photos playing on the tv when not in use?? I would love that1!

  23. leslie says

    loooove IT! Keep in mind that with a young kid you’ll have to make sure the TV is away or that you are watching closely that he wouldn’t touch it and run he toy cars all over it… at least until he KNOWS the rules. :)

  24. Kim says

    I love how your house is coming along! I even stole your living room paint color and love it in my house, too. I love (gee, I seem to have lots of love 😉 the idea of the two sofas. Have you considered placing one at a 90 degree angle to the existing one (facing the fireplace) then maybe have the two chairs on the plank wall, possibly with a bookcase or table between them? I would then put a sofa table behind the couch facing the fireplace, maybe a couple of lights on it and a bottom shelf with baskets for more storage. Just some thoughts. I’m contemplating furniture arrangement for our family room right now, too.!

    • Layla says

      Hi Kim!
      I did think about that layout, but we really don’t want to cut off the living room with a sofa. We’re trying to keep it open from the dining room and kitchen. We sit in our chairs when we watch TV, so we’re hoping to have those facing whichever wall the TV is on. We may pull our TV stand over to the right side of the fireplace to see how it feels! :-)

  25. Joanne B. says

    Ok, maybe I am not understanding your plan, but I must tell you to sit on the two sofas and have to turn your hear to the left to see the TV will get very old, very fast. We had that situation and it was horrid- not conducive to relaxing at all. Here’s my idea if you are dead set for two sofas ( just remember, 2 X $ = $$$$$$ !) : Your room looks wide enough to have the one sofa under the window as it is in your layout, but instead of having the second sofa directly opposite it, put that sofa where the blue chairs are now, in an “L” formation. Put the TV/entertainment unit where the second sofa is now, facing the sofa under the window and move the two blue chairs on either side of the fireplace facing the two sofas which will now be in an “L” position. Your little one will have the space in front of the sofa’s to play and the TV will be easy for him to see, as well as for you as you are sitting on the sofas. perfect, I think!

    • Cindy in Oklahoma says

      That’s exactly what we did in our home and it works the best for us. I have a table behind the sofa facing the fireplace… love it. Creates a u-shape more conducive for conversation and watching TV.

  26. Julie says

    I think the first room mock up with the TV in the bookshelf is the perfect compromise. When you enter the room, the TV is on the wall in back of you and it isn’t the first thing you see. The fireplace and not the television remains the room’s focus.

    I don’t think I would like the TV on the bottom shelves of a built in. It might look more appealing but it wouldn’t be comfortable as far as ergonomics go. People flock to the center of a theater and avoid the extreme front and back for a reason…

    • Layla says

      Hi Julie!
      I’m actually thinking we’ll put the TV inside the built-in on the right side of the fireplace now because another commenter mentioned it may be better to have it away from that window. We’re also going to mount it at eye level and on an arm that will allow us to angle and extend it however we need to to be able to watch it. Who knows though- I’ll keep playing around with it! 😀

  27. Shelley Mol says

    Have you thought about putting your TV above the Fireplace? You can use a small sliding barn door to hide it when you aren’t watching it or really any kind of door. Love the look of the two couches! I am doing that in my home.

    • Layla says

      Hi Shelley!
      Yes, that’s actually the one thing we both agree on. Neither of us wants the TV above the fireplace! 😀

  28. says

    I even like the TV over one of the sofas, so when its just you two (or 3!!) its easy and comfortable to watch the TV, but when company comes over the TV can be off and the furniture encourages conversation.
    In my home I just moved my chairs to either side of the fireplace, one chair can’t see TV, but it feels wonderful early in the morning to be perched in that corner to read my devotional and keep an eye on the house and to look out the windows. but that’s me. :)

  29. Sandy Alexander says

    No matter what, you need to eliminate the entertainment unit. BUT, you need to accommodate a TV in that room. My set-up is similar. I found a simple stand and angled it in one corner, by the fireplace. Still leaves you one side with storage. Believe me , you won’t be happy if you can’t seat a few extra people comfortably. LOVE your blog!

  30. says

    I have 2 matching sofas in our living room, and would always recommend it!! So excited to see your makeover, as always! And especially drooling over that ceiling fan!! Perfect for your cottage! ~Kim

  31. says

    I think if you really have the space…..two sofas! Especially if you can float them away from the walls. I assume you will, or the curtains will be crammed between the wall and the sofa on the left.

    Our solution to the tv problem is to keep it in the basement. i love not having the noise of it near my kitchen. But I realize Southern houses don’t usually have basements.

    You don’t have a guest room, but you have a lovely music room. Is it too open for a daybed/guest room option?

  32. Em says

    Even though you and Kevin don’t watch much TV, keep in mind that your TV needs are about to change. You’re going to have a little guy in the house soon (yay!) and you’ll want him to watch some educational programming (especially if there are language barriers) and children’s shows. And as he gets older, he’ll want to have his friends over to watch sports and movies. So, just consider that you may want the TV to be a little more accessible (and also high enough that he can’t reach it/run into it/smear peanut butter all over the screen :) )

    You may have already considered this, but since it wasn’t in the post, just thought I’d mention it!

  33. Margie Mims says

    Bought 2 white slip-covered love seats from IKEA a couple of years ago – love, love, love them and the decorating possibilities they afford. I also love my square coffee table with them – I vote for 2 sofas

  34. Jess K says

    I have one couch and two arm chairs that are set up the way you describe. Everyone sits on them and then turns sideways to view the TV, so if I ever get the chance, I would love to change my seating so we are facing the TV. My necks hurts.

  35. Maria from Oz says

    TV’s. Love ’em or hate ’em, hey! Personally I rarely watch tv but when I do it must be in my eyeline, not up high, not down low, but about eye height when sitting. I hate sitting on a 45 degree angle to watch something so prefer the couch to be directly in front. Who needs a sore neck! I hate glare reflecting off the screen so it needs to be away from windows. I know alot of people like their telly above the fireplace but I think for two reasons, neck and eye strain and then the fire meets electricity kind of weirdness does my head in. SO! I think two couches angled slightly or more with a nice table. Facing which ever direction you are going to put the ‘idiot box’. Make the gallery wall the feature rather than a tv. A loungeroom (or living room as you Yanks are wont to say!) should be for relaxing. The tv should never be the dominant feature. That’s my two cents worth! (Ok maybe $1.25 worth, as inflation is really kicking in!)

    • Layla says

      I’m with you Maria- I like my TV to be eye level when I’m seated. And since we sit in those two gray chairs 99.9% of the time if we’re watching it, we’ll be facing it if we put it inside one of the built-ins. I think I may move it over there today to see how it feels! :-)

      • Daniella says

        Speaking of those gray chairs…where did you get the one on the left (if you are facing the fireplace)? Exactly what I have been looking for!

  36. says

    We just turned our garage into a family room, the room layout is similar to yours, only mine is more narrow. I debated on the same tv placement and furniture arrangements as you are for your room. I also wanted symmetry. I ended up going with a sofa on one wall and two chairs opposite. I figured this furniture arrangement gives me options if I want to change it around later. We did leave our tv out, my husband is all about the tv, lol. We do have to look up to watch it but it doesn’t bother me at all, especially since I’m always looking down at the computer or my devices. We bumped out the fireplace in the center and have yet to add the shelves on each side. You can see it for yourself here:
    We were able to hide the cablebox and wires with an IR adapter. I will be posting about that tomorrow if you’re interested.
    p.s. I can’t wait to check out your training class on Monday!

  37. Tracy says

    Why not two sofas, one facing tv, the other facing fireplace. L configuration. 2 chairs offset of the fireplace. Let’s face it, we watch tv, don’t hinder your entertainment by trying to accomodate the fireplace. And tv above fireplace is great for looks but terrible to watch, too high above eye level. Just my opinion.

    • Layla says

      Hi Tracy!
      We had our old sofa and chair-and-a-half positioned like that and we didn’t like the way it blocked off the room from the dining area and kitchen.

  38. says

    I love it, Layla! I especially love how you can see the ordinary and twist it around and make it extraordinary! I would never have thought to arrange the living room that way. The TV cabinet next to the fireplace reminds me of a cabinet I saw at a friend’s house. Hers was a very similar size and shape. It had some sort of frosted glass doors on the front, and while I was visiting at least, they had the TV on with the doors closed, so it glowed. It was actually pretty cool. I don’t know if it was actually cool inside the cabinet… I’m thinking it might have been getting kinda hot in there, and maybe they didn’t even realize they left the TV on, but hey! It looked cool. :)

  39. Lisa W. says

    Your living room is certainly coming together beautifully!!! AND you just make my heart sing, all your inpiration pictures ARE from my very favorite decor store, Pottery Barn IS my true love. My friends actually tease me BECAUSE when I walk into my local PB the workers say “Hey Lisa how are ya doing, we haven’t seen you in her in awhile.” LOL my neice was with me once when they did that. She came up behind me and said ARE you kidding me, they know you by name in here:) YEP tickled me pink. I am in dreamy land with inspiration flowing over the top while I’m in there! Give us another pic of your kitchen AND those new drawer pulls!!!

  40. Karen says

    Love the idea of the two “floating” sofas, my eye is really drawn to the two chairs. Love that they are different styles, but the same fabric. Did you purchase like that or reupholster them?

  41. says

    Ooooooh… I’m in love with that Pottery Barn storage locker as well (just not the price tag…). The proposed layout is stunning. So functional yet gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the actual. Will be checking out the class on Monday!!! Woohoo!!

  42. Vicky says

    Sorry if already said: Pull couches in toward the fireplace so they aren’t against the walls. Fireplace: Add planks above the fireplace for vertical texture in addition to the built-ins.

  43. Martha says

    How about a write-in vote? Leave the one sofa against the planked wall. Then move the other sofa to where the grey chairs are and have the two chairs flank the window.

    • Layla says

      Hi Martha!
      We actually want to keep the area where the chairs are free from any sofas. We had one there before and didn’t like seeing the back of it from our dining room and kitchen. :-)

      • Linda says

        I love the two couches. My only suggestion is to purchase the new one with lower arms. Place that one closest to the TV. You will be able to stretch out on the sofa (my son’s favorite way to watch TV :-) straight on and still be able to see over the arm.

  44. Kristen says

    I’d float the couches- at least one. And put a console with lamps behind it. You’re going to need a place to stash toys- and put them out of sight at the end of the day.

    We put our tv above our fireplace- and I regret it every day. It’s really too high to look at comfortably when you’re sitting on the couch. Your idea of built-ins is much better!

  45. says

    I don’t have time to read all the comments so forgive me if someone else has already chimed in with this idea. I have been mulling over your living room for the last day (sounds creepy but I rent so I live vicariously through my blog buddies!). When I first saw your living room, I immediately thought about half height cabinets like you have drawn in but I thought glass doors would look lovely (and the extra light bouncing around can’t hurt). If it would be messy, you could line them with gathered muslin. Secondly, I imagined those two armchairs sitting in front of the fireplace/built-in end (like this: and this: Then I thought a dresser/media cabinet across from your existing sofa with your tv hung on the wall above and surrounded by a salon/gallery style picture collection (like this: and this: I think you shouldn’t worry about every seat being able to see the tv for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you probably only watch it when you are at home alone so watching it directly across from your comfy couch makes the most sense – any angle there will be uncomfortable. Secondly, you just can’t make every seat see the tv when you have furniture on three different angles. Anyway, hope that helps in any way. Whatever you do will look amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what you decide!