3 Genius Solutions for Living Room Layout Problems

The hangout zone of your home can be hard to arrange. So Real Simple asked two designers to sketch out solutions for three of the trickiest scenarios. Pull up a chair and take some notes.

Problem: If Your Living Room Has No Foyer

You can fake one with your choice of clever work-around. The idea is to create a pause before the seating area. Check out two solutions below.

Introduce an Entryway

Solution #1: Introduce an Entryway
Position a rug and some key pieces of furniture just inside the front door.

  1. Set Up Drop Zones: Bookend the doorway with two greeting areas. “A bench-and-hooks combo on one side lets people know right away that this is an entry area,” says Shea McGee of Studio McGee in Salt Lake City. On the other side, place a chest of drawers with a tray on top for grab-and-go essentials, like sunglasses and keys, and a mirror above “for that last check on your way out.”
  2. Bridge the Gap: Center a rug between the drop zones to help define the “foyer.” “I like a rug that’s a foot wider than the door-way on either side,” says McGee. “Any smaller and it can feel puny, like a doormat.”
  3. Add Strategic Sitting: Connect the foyer and the main living area (couches plus TV) with a pair of poufs or low stools. “It’s cumbersome to have to walk around a sofa or two big chairs,” says McGee. “And those pieces would also block your view of the room.”

Related: 33 Modern Living Room Designs

Block Foyer With a Bench

Solution #2: Block With a Bench
Set up a divider—a bench, a bookshelf, or a console—and lay down a runner to carve out an entrance corridor.

  1. Bring in Greenery: Pop a plant into the corner facing the entry door to fill out that blank space. It’s in your line of sight when you walk in, so it makes the room feel instantly welcoming, says Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors in Los Angeles. (A snake plant is a good option if that corner doesn’t get a lot of light.)
  2. Decorate With Doubles: Structure the main seating area with some symmetry: a pair of end tables with lamps flanking the sofa, a pair of accent chairs on either side of the coffee table. “Symmetry looks deliberate, so it helps define a space and makes it seem finished,” says Lewis.
  3. Anchor the Main Area: Lay down a rug in the middle of the larger seating section to establish it as a separate space. “I like the outer pieces of furniture to rest partially on the rug,” says Lewis. “The room feels more easygoing, less stiff that way.”