Tips on Furniture Placement for Connection with Others
Feng Shui gives you insights about furniture placement to maximize Chi flow and to provide a sense of protection. While this is important, it does not address the your most important need: connection with others. Furniture placement for connection is not about the furniture, it is about arranging seating, tables and lighting for relaxed conversation and easy eye contact.
“The most important thing is being able to make eye contact.”– Witold Rybzinski, architect and historian.
People feel most comfortable being together when the degree of emotional connectedness and physical closeness match.
When these two factors are not in sync people feel invaded or isolated, which can be experienced as anxiety or discomfort. And yet, people tend to spread out their furniture to fill the room, no matter the size of the space.
Please Note: The rooms you see in design magazines and online are setup for the best photo composition, not for how the room works in real life. These rooms are totally rearranged for the photographer.
Interior Psychology calls this interaction zone “Interpersonal Distance”. Knowing how to use this helps you create spaces that make conversation calmer, intimacy easier and privacy possible.
The interpersonal Distances in Your Life:
Intimate Distance, 0-18 inches, is from skin-to-skin contact to arms length. This is most often used by lovers and parents with their children: for care, protection, passion. You can speak in a whisper or low voice, touch, kiss.
Personal Distance, 1 ½ – 4 feet, is for connection without touching. This is best for conversations with family and close friends. People will be drawn to seating spaces that are cozier, inviting people to hang out and connect.
Social Distances: 4-7 feet, is the “close phase” of Social Distances, which is appropriate for business or formal social gatherings. This is not a comfortable distance for everyday family time and conversation.
Seven to 12 feet is the “far phase” of Social Distance. At this distance your voice must be projected, the tone of your voice changes and your message becomes briefer. This changes the emotional dynamic of your conversation. Interior designers call this “shouting distance.” Spaces with furniture sprawl are most vulnerable to this.
How to Use Interpersonal Distances in Your Home – Furniture Placement for Connection
In Gathering Spaces: Living Rooms, Family Rooms, Dining Rooms and Kitchens:
Arrange seating to support face-to-face distance of 5 ½ – 7 feet or less (a tape measure is handy). During my consultations I move furniture around to help my clients experience how much better it feels to have a smaller seating area. Their surprised response is “I really like it this way!” Moving furniture closer together is especially important in large rooms where the impulse is to spread out furniture to fill the space = furniture sprawl.
When furniture is farther apart a space feels more formal and people will interact that way. When seating is closer together, what may at first glance look crowded, will feel cozy and comfortable.
Chair Placement for Eye Contact and Connection
Being aware of distance is the first part of arranging your furniture by making it easier to hear and speak. How your seating is grouped makes eye contact easier and more relaxed.
People instinctively gather in a circle when talking together. So arrange your chairs and sofa in a circle or U-shape or even an L-shape. When seated at a table, a round table is ideal.
Want help arranging your furniture for greater intimacy and connect while creating a room that looks beautiful? Contact me.
How do you arrange your furniture to make you feel comfortable? Share your ideas in the comments below.
image by linda varone