How to Give Your Crowded or Bare Room a Polished Look

Yesterday I met with two clients who had opposite dilemmas…  One has an overcrowded and cluttered family room that is too small for all the furniture in it, and the other has a huge master bedroom that looks too bare.  This blog covers ideas for how to deal with these two opposite dilemmas.       

Room function:  Before you start redecorating, be sure to consider the main activities you and your family/guests will be doing in the room.       

Large rooms can be divided into functions and the furniture arranged accordingly.  Small rooms especially need to be well planned out in order to accomplish the necessary functions.      

Traffic flow:  Your furniture pieces shouldn’t be too close to each other.  Take flow of traffic into consideration, i.e. routes through room that move people through it and around furniture.  You don’t want to have to walk around furniture too much.  Direct and somewhat straight paths are best.  On the other hand, you don’t want big empty spaces either, which can lead the rest of your furnishings drowning in the large space.      

A project I’m working on now involves a new home where existing furniture was moved into the new house, and it is just too crowded and not pulled-together in it’s current state…     

 Click on photos for larger view     


Family room needing help


Another view of the same room above


Here are a couple solutions which involve scaling down the quantity of furniture pieces, and breaking up the large wall unit to open up the window currently hidden behind it, and balance out the weight in the room better…     

Family room floor plan


Family room floor plan alternative


Clearance requirements:      

  • Dining table:  Allow each guest 24” of width at the table
  • Space between the edge of the table and the wall:  4’ – 6’
  • Space between coffee table and sofa:  10”+
  • Major traffic patterns need 36”- 6’ clearance
  • Minor traffic patterns need 18” – 4’ clearance

 Crowded Rooms:     

  • Don’t squeeze too much furniture in a room just because you have it. 
  • Remember to consider arranging furniture at an angle, grouped around an area rug…

Family room floor plan at an angle


 Consider types of furniture pieces in the combination.  Alternative options:     

  • 4 chairs
  • 2 sofas
  • L-shaped sectional

Family room floor plan L shape sofa


Bare Rooms:  Be careful with trying to fill a large bare room with small furniture and accessories.  You want these items to match the scale of your room.   If you have a large wall, use large-scale wall art.   Here are some examples of fillers to help keep a large space from appearing too empty or bare…
  • Decorative screens are great fillers.
  • Add an area rug, and group your furniture in an intimate seating arrangement using the area rug as an anchor.
  • Fill empty wall space with a creative wall painting technique, and/or wall papering sections framed in…  Ideas and photo examples .
  • Silk trees and floor plants.
  • Floor standing vases with branches…

Large scale floor vase


Good example of filling bare space with accessories

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