Decorating & Design

December 3, 2008

Coffee Table Placement

Q. I love the way you are always advising us to keep furniture away from walls. I put my two sofas facing each other with the coffee table in between, but I’m not sure how far away the sofas should be from the coffee table. And, what minimum amount of space do I need behind them? Also, the sofas are always moving (I am going for an uncluttered, carpetless room) — what can I do about this?

— C.W., King City, Ont.

A. To create a comfortable seating area, you should have 16” to 18” of space all around your coffee table. As for behind your sofas, if the space is used as a main circulation path in the room, make sure to allow at least a width of 4’ between the back of the sofa and the wall (or other piece of furniture) so you can get through with ease. If it’s not a circulation path but you have another piece of furniture such as a bookcase against a wall, allow a minimum of 18” between the back of the sofa and the front of the bookcase for accessing the shelves. If there are drawers or cupboards involved, then allow closer to 36” so you have room to open them without any difficulty.

Some inexpensive rubber castor cups will help keep your sofas from shifting around and will also protect your floors. They are typically available in different sizes, in round or square shapes and in brown or beige rubber to match the colour and size of your furniture legs. They are available in hardware stores, department stores or at retailers that carry “storage solutions” type merchandise.