Decisions… renovating or building a new home are full of them.
Every decision you make during the process, no matter how big or small, will have an impact on your home. And it’s sometimes the little things that end up being the most important.
What might seem like insignificant decisions at the time, may end up coming back to bite (or just frustrate the heck out of you) in the long run. Seemingly little things like where to install your light switches, which way your doors will swing, or even where the cutlery draw will go, all require careful consideration and planning.
That’s why it’s best to do your research, listen to the experts and really understand how you live. Then, apply this to the design and layout of your home.
When it comes to your living space, ask yourself ‘how you will you use it’? Will it primarily be for entertaining, or TV-watching? Is it a formal room, or more of a family room? One of the main things you’ll need to decide early on is the layout, and your fireplace plays a big part in this.
Let us help make your decision easier by explaining some of the most popular ways to lay out your living room, and how each setup might affect the way you use the space.
Symmetry is the defining factor of a formal setup. The fireplace is typically centred in the middle of a wall with matching bookshelves, built-in cabinets or windows either side. When it comes to seating, symmetry is just as important – matching sofas are placed facing each other, while a set of armchairs will point towards the fireplace. A square or rectangular coffee table might be placed in the middle and the television placed above the fire, or even relegated to another room.
A formal set up is common in older, traditional homes and is a great option if you’ve got the luxury of a second lounge. This set-up is ideal for soaking up conversation and flames from all angles.
A relaxed living room is quite the opposite of traditional – it plays on asymmetry. The fire is often positioned on a wall to one side of the room, with a television, art or shelving on the other. Large corner-shaped or modular sofas are often the main seating used, with an occasional chair placed to the side.
A relaxed or casual layout prioritizes comfort and creates a laid back, informal space that’s versatile – it’s just as good for a movie night by the fire as it is for hosting a crowd. This layout is a popular choice for larger open plan living areas and rooms with good indoor-outdoor flow.
An intimate setting is created by pointing a sofa directly towards the fireplace with occasional furniture placed either side. Instead of a chair you’ll often find a beanbag, ottoman or floor cushion– the perfect spot for stretching out and getting cosy by the fire. The television might be placed above the fire or concealed behind a cabinet.
Escea DX1500 Gas Fireplace, Design by Mason & Wales, Image by Marina Matthews; Escea DS Gas Fireplace, Design by Wolveridge Architects, Image by Derek Swalwell; Escea DFS730 Gas Fireplace, Design by Clare Cousins, Image by Tess Kelly.
This layout creates a cosy, intimate space where warmth, ambience and conservation are most important.
Just as it implies, this layout encourages fire-side conversations. Furniture will face each other but unlike a traditional layout, symmetry isn’t essential. A sofa will be positioned facing two occasional chairs or chaise lounge. A variety of side tables and nestled coffee tables will be placed around the room, and a TV can be positioned either above the fire or to the side.
A conversational layout is a good balance between a formal and relaxed room, or a clever option if you can’t decide between the two.
Unlike other layout types, an adjacent setting uses two walls – one for the fireplace and one for the television. You’ll find a corner or L-shaped sofa, with a large coffee table in the middle.
This layout is great for homes that have ample wall space, or if you simply want the freedom to choose (or share) the focus point of a room; both the fireplace and/or TV can be a feature in their own right. It’s also a good option if you‘ve got a big family or entertain frequently – there’s enough room for everyone to snuggle up for a cosy night by the fire, or TV, you decide!
Fortunately most pieces of furniture can be moved, but most of the time, your fireplace can’t. That’s why it’s worth planning your living room layout from the outset to make it work for you.