Arranging Furniture when Staging a Home

5 Essential Tips for Arranging Furniture When Staging a Home

5 Essential Tips for Arranging Furniture When Staging a Home

Arranging furniture when staging a home is a key element in the success, or failure of the home’s presentation to prospective buyers. Translation: even the best stuff can make a house look tacky if it’s not properly arranged.

If you’ve read anything about Home Staging, you know that a furnished home will sell more quickly than a vacant home. I know this…my staging business specializes in vacant homes. But, the furniture needs to be properly placed in order to show the room/space/interior in it’s best light.

I’ll share some of my most practical tips with you. They are very effective and will work for you, too.

So, whether you are going to stage your own home that you currently live in, or the project involves a vacant property, these 5 tips are applicable, and essential!

5 Essential Tips for Arranging Furniture When Staging a Home

Arranging Furniture When Staging a Home


1. Use the dimensions and angles of the room to your advantage

I’ve been in hundreds of homes in my career as an Interior Decorator and Home Stager. Many times the furniture in the living room, for example, is pushed up against the walls, no matter how large the room is. This arrangement can make a room look boring, cold and uninviting, particularly if the space is large.

Home Staging is all about creating a feeling, a positive emotional response, from the buyer. Creating angles with furniture placement will help create that response. And it’s not hard to do, you just have to think about the angles in the space instead of the walls around the space.

Sometimes the best arrangement will be to keep the things linear and straight, but create warmth and interest by pulling the large pieces away from the walls, or placing them perpendicular to a wall or walls.

I’ll show you what I mean with these photos of homes I have staged (all of the photos on this site, with very few exceptions, are of my work)

In the Living Room shown above, I could have put the sofa in front of the window with the chairs against the far wall. Yawn.

Instead, I placed the sofa at an angle in front of the far wall, so it reached the edge of the window wall. The two accent chairs are placed to create a conversation area. They are each at a slight angle toward each other, and toward the sofa.

The Home Office shown above is a typical size for this type of room…not overly large. We wanted to show the function of the space with a suggested layout. Home Staging does not fill a room with furniture, because we want it to look spacious and allow the buyer to really see the space.

So, we used angles to create an inviting and interesting look. The green arrows in the photo on the right show you how those angles are positioned. The desk is the focal point (more about that in a minute) so the front of the desk is facing out of the room.

The two side chairs are not flat against the wall. They are angled slightly toward each other – just enough to create a small vignette with the accent table between. The angles don’t have to be large or exaggerated.

 The Family Room shown above is long and narrow, with a small seating area near the Kitchen. I decided to use two oversize chairs rather than a sofa or love seat in the seating area. You can see the chairs from each side of the space.

Each chair has a slight angle toward the other…not a lot here…maybe 25 degrees. Could I have placed them straight, facing toward the TV? Sure. That would not have been wrong. But, by creating a slight angle for each, it changes the vibe of the space and creates a more interesting arrangement.

Sometimes it’s best to keep the lines of the furniture placement straight, as in the photo at the top of the page. This Great Room was quite large, so I wanted to create a conversation area in the living room. The placement of the sofa and love seat create that space, and they add visual interest. 

2. Find the focal point and arrange around it

arranging furniture when staging a home

Just about every room has a focal point…something that is the highlight of the room. It could be a beautiful view (we get that a lot here in SW Florida), a fireplace or large media cabinet, a uniquely shaped accent wall, or perhaps the view into the rest of the space if the room is large and/or multi functional.

Place the pieces in a way that leads the buyer to see the focal point. The fireplace is the focal point in the staged Living Room shown above, so we arranged the furniture around it.

What should you do if the room just doesn’t have any area of interest? Create your own. Use a pretty piece of art and arrange the furniture to focus on that. Or, create your own with vibrant colors, as I did in the staged Living Room here:

home staging a living room - dining room combo

This Living/Dining area really didn’t have anything to focus on, so I used a vibrant area rug, colorful accent chairs and wall art to create an inviting and memorable living area for buyers to see as they walked into the home. 

Are you staging your own, furnished home? Your challenge will be to see your Living Room, for example, with fresh eyes. Try not to be influenced by the way the furniture has been arranged in the past. Take the room down to the bare minimum of furniture and get creative!

Here are some examples of colorful area rugs with a variety of price points to fit almost any budget:

Or, a piece of bright and engaging wall art can create an instant focal point in an otherwise boring space. Canvas art is typically quite cost effective and is used extensively in home staging:


3. Keep the scale of the furniture in proportion to the scale of the room

how to select the right size furniture when staging your home for sale

I know, it seems obvious, but we still need to cover this point. A large room can handle the bigger, bulkier pieces with ease, where a small room would be totally overpowered by those same pieces. 

When staging a home you want to present each room as large and spacious as possible. Stuffing oversize pieces into a modest size space will not do the room any favors. And, a large room may seem cavernous with a couple of petite pieces of furniture in it. So, it’s very important to pay attention to scale.

Have you ever seen a king size bed with a massive frame in a 10 x 12 Bedroom? I have. It’s not pretty. If you have a similar situation and the king bed must stay in the small master bedroom, for example, use just the bed with no headboard or extra framing. Use light colored bedding so the bed will blend in with the rest of the room a bit better.

Here’s a tip for arranging furniture when staging a home: work with the largest pieces first. In the living room that would be the seating…sofa, love seat, sectional, etc. Place those pieces where you think they would be best presented, considering the angles of the room as well as the focal point, as discussed above.

Then, begin to add the smaller items…accent chair(s), media console, end table(s), etc. It takes some discipline and a critical eye to know when enough is enough. More about that in a minute.

4. Add area/accent rugs to pull the grouping together and define a space

use area rugs when arranging furniture

Let me get one thing out of the way right now. I don’t subscribe to anyone’s rules of where to place area rugs. I put them where I think they look best. So there.

Many of the homes I stage in SW Florida have tile floors, so the use of area and accent rugs is almost always appropriate. Imaging the living area shown above without that interesting, patterned area rug. There would be a visual sea of white tile throughout this moderately sized Great Room. 

Instead, the living area is defined in a stylish and interesting way, largely due to the area rug. They are a wonderful and budget friendly way to add style as you are arranging furniture when staging a home. 

Notice how the accent rugs shown below add personality to these spaces:

5. Know when enough is enough

It’s really a simple thought, self explanatory, too. But it’s so hard to do when staging a home. The desire is always to add ‘ just one more thing’.

This is what I tell my new staging assistants when they want to keep adding more to a staged space: “Does adding that one (or two or three) thing(s) make the space look better? more stylish? more clearly defined?”

Be honest. Sometimes the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. In that case, good for you! Keep the additional piece there.

The majority of the time, though, the response is, “…not really”. Remove it and be satisfied. Arranging furniture when staging a home really embodies the adage “less is more”. Remember that.

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