Guest Author - Donna Coogan
Spaces like living rooms and family rooms involve a lot of activity such as reading, conversing, entertaining and perhaps watching t.v. With so much activity going on, it’s important to pay attention to traffic flow.
Traffic flow simply means it should be easy for people to move through the room and around furniture pieces. To accomplish this, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when placing your living room furniture.
First of all, make sure you don’t crowd the entryways to the room with furniture pieces. It is all too easy to trip over a chair or bang into a large armoire by the door. Provide a comfortable clearance in this area so that it's easy to walk in and out of the room and so that the room is more welcoming.
Also, there should be at least 3 to 3 ˝ feet for walking through the room, especially if you are entering through one door and exiting through another door. This allows a person to comfortably travel through the space without bumping into anything and also allows for two people to easily pass each other in the room.
Most living and family rooms are typically filled with some kind of seating arrangement involving a sofa and possibly a loveseat and some chairs. Each chair should have a table within easy reach for setting down a drink or other object and should allow about 30” to stretch out your legs in front of it. The coffee table should be set about 18” to 20" from the sofa for comfortable leg room. To avoid hindering traffic flow, choose a table that's not more than two-thirds the length of the sofa.
Table lamps should be placed so that the bottom of the shade is about eye level when you are seated next to it. Make sure the shade isn’t so big that someone could knock into it when seated or when passing by. Also be sure that the electrical cords to your lamps, safely stay out of the way of traffic patterns.
Rugs in seating areas should be measured so that the legs of the sofa and chairs rest on the rug or so that they are completely off it. Don’t have them half on and half off. Room-size area rugs should allow at least 12” to 18” of floor space around the border. Make sure you use no-slip pads under smaller rugs and that your rugs lie flat without any curl or lumps that could create a traffic hazard.
Furniture pieces with doors or drawers that open should allow about 3’ in front of them for easy access. Tall pieces like bookcases should be anchored to the wall so they can’t tip over.
Lastly, avoid lining up your furniture against the walls of the room; if there’s space, pull seating areas at least 12” out from the wall. Doing so will make the room feel more comfortable.
Creating traffic flow is an important design element that shouldn’t be overlooked in your home. Keep in mind that the above guidelines are useful for people without any special needs. Naturally, such needs would have to be taken into consideration when necessary.