How To Layout Furniture in Your Narrow Living Room (Or Around a Fireplace!)

I posted on my Instagram last week about how questions about living room layouts is the number one thing people reach out to me about! And for good reason too- some living rooms are SO tough to design around! I love the challenge though, it’s like trying to solve a puzzle!

I’m definitely still learning, but this is something that has become so much easier for me. I wanted to put this post together with my top tips and ideas to hopefully make you feel a little more confident should you ever need to furnish an awkwardly shaped space!

my parent’s living room after I modified their furniture layout!

my parent’s living room after I modified their furniture layout!

Layout 1 : LONG + NARROW

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I put this layout together with my parent’s living room in mind. So many people are quick to place their furniture against a wall or in the corner of a room, but that’s not always the best arrangement. In a room like this, floating a sofa in the middle of the room with two chairs and a round coffee table actually made the room feel larger. They previously had a sectional pushed into a corner, which resulted in a ton of unused space. By bringing the furniture out, it makes the room feel more welcoming. When putting furniture in the middle of a room, you definitely want to make sure you ground it with an appropriately sized area rug.

Layout 2 : CORNER FIREPLACE

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This layout isn’t based on a real room, but I know this configuration is pretty common. I think in this scenario, people get confused about how they should treat the corner fireplace (Does their TV need to be mounted above it? Do they need to angle their furniture? Etc). I would personally never advise anyone to angle their furniture toward the fireplace. I would definitely face the sofa towards it, but keep it straight. If possible, utilize the wall next to the fireplace and put a nice media console for your TV. In this particular layout, the room is pretty big and there was empty space between the couch and the entry to the room. I’ve seen a ton of spaces where this area would be completely open and open to the kitchen. In that case, I would put a dining table here. But if it were more of a closed off space, I think a chaise would be a great use of space! You could create a cozy reading nook type space by placing a bookcase across from it. This also could be a fun area to use a faux cowhide rug. The irregular shape of them is perfect in a spot like this.

Layout 3 : NARROW WITH LARGE WINDOWS

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This layout should look familiar because it’s mine! When we first walked through our home (before buying), the previous owners had their couch back against the stairs with their TV on the same wall that we have it. I’m not sure if that was how they always had it, or if they had already started moving out… but it made NO sense. There was way too much space between the sofa and the TV and the room was not being utilized in the best way. Not to mention that to walk through to the dining room, you would have to walk directly in front of someone watching TV (traffic flow is SUPER important). I knew right away that we’d have to put our sectional with part of it going against the window. I was able to create the feel of an entry “hallway” by putting a long, skinny console table behind our sofa. Since we don’t have room for an end table, the console also comes in handy for placing drinks and food. By angling my beloved peacock chaise toward the sofa, I was able to define the area even more and make it that much more cozy! Round/ oval coffee tables are great for smaller or awkwardly shaped rooms because it’s easier to walk around them.

Layout 4 & 5 : NARROW WITH FRENCH DOORS & FIREPLACE

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This is actually a layout that someone messaged me on Instagram about. They’re moving into a new place that has the PRETTIEST living room - complete with a fireplace, two sets of french doors, and a gorgeous bay window! However, all of these elements has also created some serious confusion about the furniture placement. The room is only 11 feet wide, so making sure to leave enough space for traffic flow is definitely a challenge. Another thing to keep in mind with this room is that the french doors open into the room- so leaving enough space to keep those functional is also important. For a homeowner here, I would definitely recommend looking into the possibility of turning these into pocket doors.
For my first layout idea, I would do either a two seat sofa or a small three seat option going across the room with two chairs across from it. A console table behind the sofa would fill some of the empty space and would be a great spot for a table lamp & a couple of stools hidden underneath for extra seating. A tall bookshelf on the left side of the fireplace would balance out the height of the window on the other side.
My second idea is the same basic layout as the first, but with a small chaise sofa. I also angled the chairs and put an ottoman in front of one. Instead of a console table, I put a small bench in front of the bay window. This would be a great spot to put some gorgeous throw pillows! The two light orange circles to the left of the fireplace is supposed to represent an arching floor lamp. I always love how these types of lamps help to define an area. A narrow console table might work on the wall across from the fireplace, but that is something I’d definitely wait to get until after the sofa and chairs are there. The last thing you want to do in a small space is try and pack in too much furniture and create obstructions in the flow of traffic.

my living room

my living room

Hopefully these different layout guides have helped you think about spaces a little differently! And if I didn’t address an issue you’re having - please feel free to reach out to me! I always love helping whenever I can! I also created a “quick tips” sheet that you can PIN and reference later if needed!

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HUGE Area Rug Round Up (My Favorite New + Vintage Rugs Right Now)

One of my favorite things to do when I want to switch up the look of a room is to get a new area rug. I’ve gone through MANY rugs in the last few years, which has ended up being great for me because I now know some key things to keep in mind while looking.

in our living room, I’m now on my fourth area rug… (we’ve lived here for less than two years *insert face palm emoji*)

I wanted to pass along some of my lessons learned, as well as show some amazing rugs I’m loving right now! As far as the lessons go, there are just a couple things I keep in mind now whenever I’m looking for something.

1) Bigger is usually better. I’m not going to say always, because I think there are some scenarios where a bigger rug could overwhelm a room. In most instances, however, you’re stuck between two sizes, it’s probably safer to get the bigger one.
2) Think about your whole home. What I mean by this is try and think if that rug would also work in other rooms of your home besides the one you’re shopping for. This isn’t a make or break point but just something to consider. If you want to change things around in the future, it’s helpful to already have a place where you can put the old one. I also think that the cohesiveness of your home is very important. If you think a rug would work in multiple rooms then that means that the style and colors flow with your current home decor.

Now onto the rugs… STARTING WITH VINTAGE RUGS…

why buy vintage?

I personally love the look of vintage rugs. They’re each so unique- while some have similarities, you’ll almost never see two of the same one. I love rugs that have some fading as well, and I’ve read that fading is actually a sign of good quality. Vintage rugs are also extremely durable. Wool is very easy to clean as well as being highly water resistant- this makes them perfect for high traffic areas!

*this post contains affiliate links. the rugs listed below were available at the time of writing this post… if they’re no longer available, there’s a good chance that I already scooped them up!! ;-) (kidding)

And before you think you can’t afford these beauties— most of the runners are under $200, and the small ones are all under $60!!

one  /  two  /  three  /  four  /  five  /  six

one / two / three / four / five / six

one  /  two  /  three  /  four  /  five  /  six  /  seven  /  eight  /  nine

one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine

Now for some affordable new rugs… (these are all from RugsUSA)

You might also notice some rugs on their website that only come in size 5x8 and that are all $49.99 — these rugs are limited stock or sample sale rugs. Most of them only have 1 or very few left! Here are 6, but there are SO MANY more that are gorgeous!

one  /  two  /  three  /  four  /  five  /  six

one / two / three / four / five / six

That’s all for my big rug round up- hope you found this helpful!! If you end up getting any of these rugs, I’d love to see them in your space!! If you upload a pic to Instagram, be sure to tag me (@meredithlynndesigns)!

How To Fill That Big Empty Wall (6 Ideas For Your Blank Wall)

Wall decor has always been my least favorite part of decorating a room. I always get stuck on how to fill the empty space without making the room look too busy, or finding the right size decor. Recently I’ve been trying to think of what to do with one of the walls in our kitchen… and then one of my friends (hi Colleen! <— check out her blog!) texted me saying she’s been struggling with a wall in her living room! Sooo I’ve decided to put a list together of some good go-to’s for when you have no clue what to do with a wall!

1 ) FLOATING SHELVES / ART LEDGE

Floating shelves or art ledges are an amazing way to fill space! Plus, you can switch out the decor that you display on them whenever you feel like it. You can decorate these with minimal decor (think: mostly white/ beige decor, or only black and white prints) or you can use them to display your favorite shelf styling accessories and art! In children’s rooms or playrooms, art ledges are also amazing to display kids books!

Example of beautifully styled floating shelves from  Amber Interiors

Example of beautifully styled floating shelves from Amber Interiors

Christ &amp; Julia of Chris Love Julia made this  DIY Art Ledge  to fill the space above their couch

Christ & Julia of Chris Love Julia made this DIY Art Ledge to fill the space above their couch

In my own home, I have an art ledge from IKEA with some simple decor as well as a small floating shelf above the chair in my living room.

In my own home, I have an art ledge from IKEA with some simple decor as well as a small floating shelf above the chair in my living room.

2) A MIRROR

A well placed mirror can work miracles for a room! Whether you choose a leaning floor mirror or wall mirror; they can help a dimly lit room appear brighter, while also helping to fill some of that empty space! Mirrors are great to use when you need to fill an area but don’t want it to overwhelm the overall design.

IN THIS DESIGN BY STUDIO MCGEE , AN OVER-SIZED FLOOR MIRROR IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF STATEMENT THIS WALL NEEDED!

IN THIS DESIGN BY STUDIO MCGEE, AN OVER-SIZED FLOOR MIRROR IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF STATEMENT THIS WALL NEEDED!

THIS MIRROR FROM  BALLARD DESIGNS  LOOKS PERFECT ABOVE THIS BENCH!

THIS MIRROR FROM BALLARD DESIGNS LOOKS PERFECT ABOVE THIS BENCH!

3) WOVEN ART / TAPESTRY / BASKETS

I lumped these three together because they all help to add a sense of texture to your room. Woven wall art can include macrame, fiber art (those beautiful yarn wall hangings), or even any type of woven sea grass art!
Tapestries were in style when I was in high school, but those were crazy tie dye ones that you had when you went through your “hippie” phase. These days, they make wall tapestries to suit every decor style! Basket walls definitely had a major moment- almost everyone had a wall dedicated to their gorgeous basket collections! I still love them, especially when paired with a more minimal style!

I’VE HAD THIS PIN SAVED FOR SO LONG, I LOVE HOW IT’S COLORFUL BUT NOT OVER THE TOP!

I’VE HAD THIS PIN SAVED FOR SO LONG, I LOVE HOW IT’S COLORFUL BUT NOT OVER THE TOP!

I LOVE HOW MODERN AND MINIMAL THIS  WALL TAPESTRY  IS! SOMETHING LIKE THIS WOULD ALSO BE A SUPER EASY DIY.

I LOVE HOW MODERN AND MINIMAL THIS WALL TAPESTRY IS! SOMETHING LIKE THIS WOULD ALSO BE A SUPER EASY DIY.

I LOVE HOW THIS  MACRAME  IS STYLED IN A MORE TRADITIONAL ROOM. IT SHOWS THAT MACRAME DOESN’t HAVE TO MEAN BOHO.

I LOVE HOW THIS MACRAME IS STYLED IN A MORE TRADITIONAL ROOM. IT SHOWS THAT MACRAME DOESN’t HAVE TO MEAN BOHO.

4) PLANTS

Hanging planters, plants on wall hooks, plants on floating shelves, wall planters - however you want to add them, plants make a great addition to any room! Bonus points for if you use real plants and can keep them alive (I definitely can’t)!!

THE MIX OF GREENERY ON THESE FLOATING SHELVES ADDS SO MUCH TO THIS ROOM! (via  a beautiful mess )

THE MIX OF GREENERY ON THESE FLOATING SHELVES ADDS SO MUCH TO THIS ROOM! (via a beautiful mess)

ANGELA MUELLER OF  RESTORING HOME  USES SIMPLE WHITE WALL PLANTERS TO CREATE A MINIMAL WALL GARDEN

ANGELA MUELLER OF RESTORING HOME USES SIMPLE WHITE WALL PLANTERS TO CREATE A MINIMAL WALL GARDEN

5) GALLERY WALL

What I love most about gallery walls is how they different they can be. You can make them minimal and organized, or colorful and random- and everything in between! You can really flex your creativity when dreaming up a gallery wall.

THIS GALLERY WALL MAKES A BIG STATEMENT WITH DIFFERENT SIZED FRAMES, HOWEVER KEEPING ALL THE PHOTOS BLACK + WHITE STOPS IT FROM BEING OVERWHELMING. ( VIA PINTEREST )

THIS GALLERY WALL MAKES A BIG STATEMENT WITH DIFFERENT SIZED FRAMES, HOWEVER KEEPING ALL THE PHOTOS BLACK + WHITE STOPS IT FROM BEING OVERWHELMING. (VIA PINTEREST)

THIS GRID STYLE GALLERY WALL FROM  STUDIO MCGEE  LOOKS VERY CLEAN + POLISHED.

THIS GRID STYLE GALLERY WALL FROM STUDIO MCGEE LOOKS VERY CLEAN + POLISHED.

THIS GALLERY WALL IS HELPING TO TAKE FOCUS OFF OF THE TV.  (VIA EMILY HENDERSON )

THIS GALLERY WALL IS HELPING TO TAKE FOCUS OFF OF THE TV. (VIA EMILY HENDERSON)

6)WALL HOOKS

Wall hooks are the latest thing I’ve become really into when deciding what to put on a wall. There are so many different styles of hooks available (a couple of my favorites affordable hooks: these + these). Hooks are also very functional! You can use them to hang up/ display your beautiful purses, scarves, or hats. You can put hanging planters or hanging banners on them. Or in a kids room or playroom, you can hang fun costumes from them!

THESE WALL HOOKS ARE VERY FUNCTIONAL, BUT KEEPING EVERYTHING HANGING ON THEM IN THE SAME COLOR PALETTE PREVENTS IT FROM LOOKING MESSY. (VIA  INSTAGRAM )

THESE WALL HOOKS ARE VERY FUNCTIONAL, BUT KEEPING EVERYTHING HANGING ON THEM IN THE SAME COLOR PALETTE PREVENTS IT FROM LOOKING MESSY. (VIA INSTAGRAM)

DIFFERENT TEXTURES + NEUTRAL COLORS MAKE THIS SPACE BY  AMBER LEWIS  BEAUTIFUL!

DIFFERENT TEXTURES + NEUTRAL COLORS MAKE THIS SPACE BY AMBER LEWIS BEAUTIFUL!

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE (tips + advice)

With the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge quickly approaching, I thought I’d put together a post of tips I learned from my first challenge last fall. If you’re not familiar with the One Room Challenge, it is a bi-annual design event that takes place every April + October. Over the course of six weeks, 20 featured designers along with a ton of guest participants work to makeover one room in their home. Every Thursday, everyone involved posts an update of any progress that’s been made. The last day is the big reveal. One of my favorite aspects of this event is that it’s not looked at as a competition- it’s definitely a supportive community where everyone cheers each other on!

I participated for the first time last Fall, and it was a lot of fun. Before starting, I was worried that the restrictions on my budget, time, and resources would prevent me from creating a design that people would find interesting enough to post about. I decided to just go for it anyway, and I’m so glad I did! I made over our master bedroom, and it didn’t take me long to realize that you don’t need a ton of money to create something beautiful! As long you as you plan ahead and get creative - you can totally do this challenge! Keep reading for some tips I put together!

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TIPS + ADVICE FOR YOUR FIRST ONE ROOM CHALLENGE:

1. PLAN AHEAD. If you’re anything like me and like to change up your design about 10 times before you actually settle on it, then definitely start planning this ahead of time. Start putting your design boards together at least a month before the challenge actually starts. The One Room Challenge website also lists out the dates of when each blog post is due (here). I really recommend jotting those dates down and thinking about the possible blog post topic you can cover on those days.

For example…
WEEK 1: APRIL 4th - Post before photos + design plans
WEEK 2: APRIL 11th - Post any progress photos (paint? furniture moved out?)
WEEK 3: APRIL 18th - Post any products I’ve bought + any DIY projects
WEEK 4: APRIL 25th - Post any progress shots, possible styling ideas
WEEK 5: MAY 2nd - Post about differences between original design plan + actual design/ unexpected problems
WEEK 6: MAY 9th - REVEAL POST! Post after shots + sources
Obviously you won’t stick to what you plan exactly because you can’t predict the future, but it definitely helps to have some sort of an idea of what you can write about. Also remember that not every post has to be a novel- if not a lot has changed from one week to the next, then write that! You can add in what you hope to accomplish by the following week.

2. SCHEDULE YOUR BLOG POSTS. I usually scheduled my blog posts a few days in advance, even if I didn’t have all the photos taken yet- I’d still save the written portion as a draft and go back to add photos later. This makes life a lot easier. I also recommend having the post go live on your personal blog on the Wednesday before (link up to the ORC site is every Thursday). When you link up to the ORC site, you need to have the URL ready… you also need to think of a title/caption for when you upload to the ORC site. I suggest putting your blog/Instagram name in every title so it’s easy for people to follow along with you. Also make sure you select a good photo for your thumbnail (it will automatically default to the first photo that appears in your blog post). I know that when I’m scrolling through the hundreds of guest participants, the ones with good quality photos always make me click first!

3. ALWAYS HAVE BACK UP OPTIONS FOR PRODUCTS. This sort of goes hand in hand with the planning ahead point - when you’re putting your design board together, have back up options in mind just in case something sells out, or ends up not looking right in your room, etc. You don’t want to have your heart set on something that doesn’t end up working out and then have to scramble to think of a replacement!

4. TAKE BEFORE PHOTOS FROM EVERY ANGLE. This is something I didn’t do and wish I did! Having the exact same view in a before and an after will help people see the extent of your transformation. You don’t have to use all your before photos in your first post, save some for the reveal.

5. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE QUALITY AFTER SHOTS. In my opinion, the reveal photos of your room are incredibly important! It would be such a shame to spend so much time creating a beautiful design, only to have the photos not do it justice. Allow yourself enough time to get the right shots- and definitely plan for a couple of days just in case one of the days doesn’t have sufficient natural light.

6. HAVE FUN + SUPPORT THE OTHER GUESTS AND DESIGNERS. I discovered so many amazing people throughout my first season! I tried to spend an hour on Sunday or Monday going through the other guest participant posts and commenting on their blogs or Instagram. It’s great having a little “tribe” of people who understand you and have the same interests!

Those are all the tips I can think of! If you have any of your own, let me know!! Hope to see you all in the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge!!


Parent's Living Room Makeover - Progress Post

This post contains affiliate links.

A few weeks ago I posted about how I’m working on making over my parent’s living room. Since then, the two chairs and the coffee table have been delivered! With all the dark furniture out of the room, the space is already feeling so much brighter! I went over this past weekend to take some progress photos- I already post a couple on Instagram and I was SO happy to see everyone’s kind words!!

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I BORROWED THEIR KITCHEN BENCH TO SEE HOW ONE WOULD LOOK HERE.

I BORROWED THEIR KITCHEN BENCH TO SEE HOW ONE WOULD LOOK HERE.

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I love how it’s coming together so far and I’m so excited to see how the sofa fits into this space! I’m changing up my original vision a little bit - which I knew was going to happen because no matter how much you measure- things just tend to look different once they’re actually in your room. I was originally planning to place a bench along the one wall, but after seeing how low the furniture is- I think a console table would look best (to add some height). I made a few other changes to the plan so I created a revised design board. I also included my thought process for each change. I know that I love when design shows talk about the reasoning behind certain decisions, so I’m hoping you all find this helpful!

I also put together a little “mock up” of how the cabinets, lamp, and sofa might look in this space. I think it helps to have as many visual aides as possible. This process might seem a little intense, but it’s what I do behind the scenes for every project I work on- whether it’s a total room makeover or just some minor changes. It has definitely prevented me from buying the wrong pieces on more than one occasion!

Obviously the exact dimensions aren’t accurate in this mock up - the sofa is going to be bigger and we’ll have to move the chairs + coffee table a little. But seeing everything together in the actual room gives you a better idea on whether or not the colors and materials look cohesive.

The sofa won’t be delivered until mid-late February. In the meantime, we can get start looking for a side table, a couple of lamps, and possibly get the cabinets. Be on the look out for another progress post next month!!