When we first moved into this rental house, I was a little apprehensive of the living room layout. Generally, the entire downstairs is sort of a mess in terms of flow, but the living room (ie. the main room of the house! where our kids play! where we entertain!) was just one long, narrow rectangle. We couldn't figure out how to configure the space, so we just copied the furniture layout of the previous owners and went on our merry way. Here's my super fancy sketch/iPhone pic of that layout. Or if you want to see it live and in person, check out this post.
We actually lived with that layout for 1.5 years when, earlier this year, I said enough is enough. There was just not enough space for the kids to play, the couch was way too close to the TV and it was all just not working. My grand idea was to put all of the furniture against the walls, probably breaking every design rule out there, but that's what we needed. More. Open. Space. Since it was summer, I thought it would be fine to do something bold (again, breaking design rules) and block off the fireplace with the couch. It was our best wall for the big couch and hey, it was summer, we didn't need the fireplace. And we didn't think we'd be in this house come fall when we needed the fireplace... remember that story? So then we switched to the layout below. In case my awesome sketch skills still aren't impressing you, real life photos of this layout here.
First of all, we love love love love love the open space this layout gave us. It was exactly what we needed in terms of fixing our downstairs layout flow issues. There was so much more space for the kids to play! We didn't crane our necks watching TV! You could see the kids playing from the kitchen! Win, win, win. But then September rolled around and I knew we would need the fireplace again. Enter our third and final layout, as pictured above.
Basically, we just moved the couch against the big wall and put the bookshelf in my home office. We use that bookshelf for toy storage, so it actually helped to get all of that clutter out of the room. We also moved my newly painted console table into the room which gives me one more pretty shelf to decorate and we can throw toy baskets underneath for more storage. Love it.
Let me just say that breaking design rules may not be for everyone, but it is certainly for me. I may love a good, balanced room, but by smashing all of the furniture against our living room walls and creating a huge, open play space for the kids, we made this otherwise unworkable room work for our family. We LOVE the living room now- it feels so open and inviting. The couch is not the absolute best TV viewing location since it sits sideways next to the TV, but we only watch TV for a few hours a week and those nights we do flip it on, we're ok with a little sideways TV watching.