How to plan the furniture layout when staging a house to sell.


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I measured up at a partly furnished house this morning for hire furniture.  It struck me after the consult that I’m getting quicker and more decisive about  what goes where. Finally!

With this in mind I thought I’d share with you how I go about planning the furniture layout. Whether you are a budding stager or are wanting to prepare your own house to sell I hope you find this post useful

What you need:

A tape measure, pen, paper and camera

A vacant, partly vacant or occupied house.

What you don’t need

Any drawing skills or CAD programs


  • Research the location of the house. What schools, shopping centres, public transport is it near? Who else lives in the street? Consider the size and layout of the  block and the house  – Is the master close to the other bedrooms? can you see the pool from the kitchen? is the garden child friendly? is there a separate living area? All this will help you imagine the most likely buyer of the property.  Click here for more on ‘most likely buyer’.
  • With the above in mind you need to give each room or section of a room a clear purpose. e.g. Dining area, study nook, rumpus. This is easy if the property is vacant as you will have no preconceptions. If the house has furniture in it try and ‘blank this out’ so that you can make the best decision based on the most likely buyer and how they will live in the house.


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  • Room by room draw a rough sketch to show the fixed elements of a room (windows, wardrobe, door, alcove)
  • Then, think about how buyers will navigate around the room. They need enough space to walk into and around the room. I often mark a walk way onto my drawing and position the furniture so as not to obstruct the walkway.
  • Think about the features you want to highlight in the room (e.g. fireplace, doors onto verandah, bank of windows)  The furniture needs to highlight not obscure these features. For example, the room below has doors onto a fantastic view of the river. I positioned the sofa looking out at the view and the 2 chairs framing but not obscuring the view.
  • Make sure the buyer can tell the purpose of a room immediately on entering. This is particularly true of bedrooms. The bed needs to be visible from the doorway but not obstructing the door way.
  • For larger rooms consider how you will zone them into different areas with a different purpose.

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  • Once you are clear on the above you can start to sketch in your furniture. A Staged house typically has less furniture in it than a house that is lived in but as with everything it’s a balance. I usually sketch in for example a sofa, chair and coffee table and THEN measure to see the size required.  I don’t measure the room (unless it’s very small) I measure the space the furniture will take up in the room.  Don’t be afraid to ‘float’ your furniture in the room. There is no rule that states that furniture needs to be placed along the walls
  • Consider whether the furniture is balanced across the room in terms of positioning and height. You don’t want all the visual ‘weight’ over on one wall.
  • When I’ve sketched the furniture in I can add lamps, rugs and artwork.  For artwork I locate it above a piece of furniture to help ‘place’ the furniture e.g. sofa, bed, console table. I also consider the sight lines of prospective buyers so their eyes can ‘alight’ on the artwork as they move through the house.
  • I also make notes of accessories I may need e.g. large vase for dining table, ‘something’ for nook in corridor.

Here are a couple of notes by room:

Bedrooms: These are the easiest so I usually start with them. Work out where the bed will go then build the bedside tables, bedside lamps and artwork around this. If you have space you can add an occasional chair or a console with chair as a dressing table or a chest of drawers or toy shelves. Don’t go crazy. Less is more. I don’t put TV’s in bedrooms but that’s just me!  The bedroom below was large. I placed the bed opposite the door with bedside and lamps beside and artwork above (this is usually the view that the photographer takes). There was still room for an occasional chair and a console table with art above.

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Family Living: I do put a TV in a family room as its surprising how many people worry about where their TV will go. Best to show them!  I often use a modular (sectional) sofa in a family room especially when there isn’t much space as you get a lot of sitting area for the size. A round or rectangular coffee table and an occasional chair to balance out the ‘square’ plus a TV unit and TV is the only other furniture you may need. A rug always helps to ‘zone’ the area. You can then add a lamp, artwork etc as required

This family room had 2 sofas not a sectional but the effect is the same (NB: this is actually a sectional that has been pulled apart to fit the space better – the warehouse didn’t have quite the right size sectional on the day I was selecting!)

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Formal living: I like a sofa opposite 2 occasional chairs for a formal living room.  Not as heavy as 2 sofas opposite each other and, in the space below, helps me to position the chairs away from the doors.

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Outdoor verandah: Very important in Queensland. If I have a dining table inside I try not to put a dining table directly outside (and therefore next to the other dining table). I would put an outside lounge here instead and move the dining table to another position

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  • Take photos of each room and any specific things you want to remember within each room.  Think about where you will stand to take the after picture so that your before picture can marry up!
  • Take out the furniture you don’t want and add in the furniture that you do!
  • I write down a few words that sum up the look/feel that I want to create e.g. comfortable, fun, family.  This is easier than thinking about a colour scheme or furniture ‘look’ only to find that it’s not available at the furniture warehouse.

I hope this has given you a few pointers when planning your layout. If you have anything to add or have any questions I’d love to hear from you.


I’m Imogen Brown, a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are a budding stager and want to chat or you are selling your house and need some furniture layout advice then I’m here to to help. Contact me through my website or on 0432994056

2 thoughts on “How to plan the furniture layout when staging a house to sell.

  1. Very informative and helpful. Thanks

    1. ib69 says:

      Thanks Lorna, that’s great to hear : )

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