This One Trick Will Make Your Living Room Look Way More Expensive

A little scooch can go a long way.

Neutral living room with layers of patterns and textures centered around fireplace
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

We don't know who needs to hear this, but we're setting the record straight once and for all: you don't need to spend a small fortune to have a home that looks expensive. On the contrary, following a few simple design rules makes it possible to create a classy home on the cheap.

Need proof? Look no further than your living room sofa or sectional. With so many brands and price points to choose from, it's easy to assume that you need to splurge on the priciest brand or fanciest fabrics to have a luxurious living room. But, in reality, the secret to making your sofa appear more expensive is moving it away from your wall. (Yes, it's that easy and affordable.)

Blue Bonus Room
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Why This Design Trick Works

According to Leslie Murphy, owner and creative director of Murphy Maude Interiors in Memphis, pushing all of your furniture against the perimeter of your living room can create a strange, under-utilized space right in the center of your layout.

"Not only does pulling your couch away from the wall allow for better room flow and conversation—it is a living room after all— the additions of lounge chairs, coffee tables, and other accompanying pieces can be brought in to be evenly distributed within the space to achieve balance," she adds.

In addition to showing off your sofa, South Carolina-based designer Betsy Berry believes this design trick can "give you more space for creating smaller seating vignettes." (And, as far as we're concerned, having multiple areas to kick back and relax certainly feels luxurious.)

Bright Blue and Green Living Room
Laura Negri

To Float or Not to Float?

This design hack might be a game-changer for your living room, but it's important to err on the side of caution depending on your sofa or footprint. Though you can technically float a sofa or loveseat to the center of your room, Murphy thinks this trick works slightly better with a sectional. "The surrounding space allows for additional walking room and can even act as a room divider depending on how the room is used," she explains.

For Bo Massey of Bohlert Massey Interiors in Rosemary Beach, Florida, it's important to pay close attention to the size of your living room. "I wouldn't recommend doing this in tight spaces or it may have the opposite effect you're hoping for. It's most important to focus on what layout of furniture works best for the flow of your space—there must be sufficient space to walk around each side if you decide to float, not merely a small opening."

While buying a sofa or sectional that's proportionate to your room can help mitigate any design mishaps, Murphy recommends leaving about two feet of walking space behind your couch. Not blessed with that much square footage? You might want to forgo the float.

Off White Formal Living Room With Pops of Teal
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Get the Look at Home

But, one you've decided if floating your sofa is the right move for you, the rest is relatively easy. "Position the sofa in the center of a room facing a coffee table, with two complimentary chairs on the opposite side," Berry recommends. "If you have a mantle or fireplace, try to adjust the seating to center around this area, as it creates an elevated, more central meeting space in the room."

If you're up for the DIY challenge, Berry recommends doubling down on small details such as tufting, buttons on the seat, or a fabric panel along the back. "With just a few simple additions, this immediately draws attention to your sofa," she explains. "By floating the sofa in the room, you can view these details at all angles."

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