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Tips to Tackle an Awkward Living Room Layout

JUNE 23, 2022
Photo credit: Ellen Van Dusen for Architectural Digest

The living room is undoubtedly one of the most-used spaces in the home. As the main gathering place for relaxing, unwinding, and entertaining, it’s also the room many people struggle to design. Not just because it has to serve all those purposes, but because many homes come with an awkward or angled living room layout that makes decorating the space a challenge. 

The unusual living room is more common than most people think—from strangely small spaces to rooms with random nooks and odd quirks. It can be difficult to find furniture that fits or design the space to suit your style and daily needs. 

Fortunately, our Decorist designers have addressed a handful of awkward living room design challenges and solutions. So to help provide some guidance and inspiration, we’ve rounded up our best awkward living room layout ideas here—all with functionality and comfortability in mind. 

Want an expert to come up with awkward living room layout ideas that are tailored to your space? Book a live video consultation with a Decorist designer.

First things first…

 Image credit: Sara Tramp for Emily Henderson

Assess The Awkward Areas

When tackling an awkward living room, take note of the quirks and oddities you’re working with. There are tons of awkward living room layout ideas out there, so having a clear idea of what makes sense for your space will save you time (and money!) when choosing furniture and coming up with design solutions. 

For instance, if you have an awkward living room layout with a fireplace that’s positioned in a corner or off to the side that you want to optimize, you may want to focus on functional seating that is sized just right for the area. Or if your living area has a small window nook that’s not big enough for a sofa, perhaps you want to consider turning it into a reading corner with an armchair instead. Considering all the design quirks and coming up with a few practical solutions in your awkward living space is key to kicking things off on the right foot. 


Consider Your Needs

Functionality always trumps style when it comes to awkward living room layout ideas. An awkward living space needs to be furnished for use and suited to your daily needs first and foremost—you can always layer on color, pattern, and accents as finishing touches to style it up.

Determine how you’ll be using your space—whether it’s for relaxing and watching movies with your family or keeping it as a more formal entertaining spot for visitors. Once you have a clear idea of how you want to use your space, consider how the awkward design features and quirks are factored into your layout and scheme—is the slanted wall perfect for a bar cart? Maybe it’s just right for the TV? Knowing how you want your space to function for you will help you get creative with the space and its unique features.


Plan Out Your Zones

Next, decide if your awkward living space will be multipurpose and, if so, how you’ll demarcate each area. If your awkward living room needs to accommodate a dining area, consider what marks the beginning of each space. Likewise, if your entrance opens directly into your awkward living room; perhaps you might float your sofa to separate the entry and the seating area. Coming up with clear functional zones, such as living, dining, TV console wall, reading corner, etc. will allow you to have a more seamless design process. 


Decide on the key elements

 Image credit: Sean Litchfield for Architectural Digest


Choose The Right Foundations

There’s no foolproof formula for how to arrange furniture in an awkward living room. The most important thing is choosing foundation furniture that is the right size and style for your space. You may want to opt for a sectional that also acts as a room divider in an awkwardly square open living space, whereas a floating sofa might work better placed parallel to a slanted wall. 

Whatever the design quirks in your living room, identify the three key foundation pieces you absolutely cannot do without—upholstered seating, a coffee table, an armchair, a floor lamp, a TV console, etc.—and build your living room layout from there. You can always add to your layout after, but having anchor pieces that are functional and comfortable will help make any awkward design features feel less obvious in the space. 


Delineate With Rugs

One of the best design tips for awkward living rooms is to add rugs to distinguish different areas. In awkwardly shaped and sized rooms, rugs can offer a bit of visual structure that plays up a room’s unique layout instead. For example, a rectangular rug can provide a visual anchor that aligns a seating or dining area within an L-shaped room layout or an open-concept space. Similarly, a small rug can be used in an entrance to mark it as a pass-through area in an open living room also. 


Set Off Spaces With Lighting

Just as furniture and rugs are great for delineating between different spaces, well-placed lighting makes for great focal points that can frame spaces in an awkward living room layout. A floor lamp at the corners of a seating area is a great visual anchor to round out a living space; a pair of sconces flanking a TV instantly centers the focus and sets apart a TV-watching lounge area; and matching table lamps on either side of a sofa act as stylish bookends for a living space. Even in a tiny recess or nook, a side table topped with a table lamp brings immediate focus, function, and elevated appeal to the spot. 


Optimize your layout

 Image credit: Emily Henderson


Lean Into Symmetry

The most tried-and-true among awkward living room layout ideas, arranging furnishings in a symmetrical manner can sometimes diminish the design quirks in your space. For instance, low slanted ceilings often appear cozier above a symmetrical seating area. Likewise, a small living room or one that’s long and narrow will feel more spacious with a well-balanced furniture arrangement. Experiment with different symmetrical setups to see what provides the most functional and comfortable look and feel as well as accentuates your room’s design features. 


Add Vertical Focal Points

Part of making an awkward living room work is embracing its unexpected features and, better yet, amplifying them. Whether it’s a curved ceiling, a recessed alcove, a slanted wall, or a seemingly unusable corner, you can bring a new perspective to these design elements by simply accenting the walls with bold decor, lighting, art, and objects. It’s the perfect way to bring new perspective to the vertical space in a room while drawing focus away from the more quirky interior details of your space. So when in doubt about an awkward detail in your living room, consider if you style it up vertically to reorient the focus. 


Get Creative With Corners

For those dealing with an angled living room layout where there are one or more corners that are too tight to outfit with actual furniture, consider the endless smaller possibilities. Awkward unusable corners are common in many living rooms, and they often make for the perfect spot for storage or adding a design statement. Whether it’s bringing in a tall leafy plant, styling up a side table with a lamp and art on the wall, or hanging hooks for a practical coat storage area, make it a point to experiment with practical for small corners in an awkward living room. They can often end up being the most fun spaces to decorate in an awkward living room. 

Ready to tackle your awkward living room layout, but want some expert guidance? Book a live video consultation with a Decorist designer.

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