How-To Decorate When Your Front Door Opens Into Your Living Room
If you've had a living room where the front door opens into it, you can appreciate the struggle of trying to decorate it. Let's just say there is a reason 'entryways' still exist in modern houses. No one wants to open the door for guests into a big mess. At the same time keeping a house in pristine 'guest condition' 24-7 is unrealistic. Enter today's design dilemma: how do you decorate your living room when your front door opens into it so it's guest ready AND homey.
Our house is the perfect example of this design dilemma. The front door opens into our one room large enough to be the living / family room. Said room also happens to be the busiest room in the house - windows, stairs, a cased opening to the dining room and literally doors on every. single. wall.
When you walk in the front door and look to the right this is what you see. The fireplace, a door to the screen porch and a window. And I'm not even going to talk about those horrendous radiators...aka space hogs (these were the first things we took out of our house when moving in - see that project here).
And to the left...the stairs and a hallway into another room.
Determined to find a solution, I scored endless sites and created A LOT of floor plan options. The front door was the first issue to work around and next where to put the TV once the couch was in its place.
Couch Perpendicular To Door Frame
Most decorating advice suggests you put the couch perpendicular to the door frame. Dana from House Tweaking uses this tactic with her front door, and it can be a great solution. Wall hooks and a bench right by the door acts as the drop spot and the back of the couch and runner directs the traffic.
And Molly from Almost Perfect uses the tactic paired with some awesome statement lighting facing the seating area to make it feel separated from the front door.
I tried this set up in our house first. With our front door being directly in the center of our living room, putting the couch perpendicular to the front door made the seating area too small. So I tried placing the couch next to the front door, but facing the fireplace. This was nice for photos but really awkward in person. You basically open the door and...hello couch.
Dress Up The Entryway With A Console
For those who are lucky enough to have space to put the couch perpendicular to the door, its even better to put a console behind the couch. The addition dresses up the space, makes the couch feel less like it's just floating in the middle of the room and gives you a nice drop spot for keys. Here's what it looked like when our couch was right next to the front door.
Define The Flow Of Traffic With A Runner Rug
Behind the console, I put a bench to create a drop spot for purses and shoes and a rug to direct the flow of traffic.
This layout didn't really work for our room. The spacing was off with the couch being literally in the middle of the room, so when anyone opened the front door they walked into the couch. We gave it a good try though and kept the room like this for about two weeks to feel out the foyer and seating space, but I got antsy.
Explore Your Options And Plan For The Flow of Traffic
Next, I tried to build off of our one "good" couch wall aka the wall without multiple doorways and windows. The flow of traffic had to be open to the dining room so options 2, 3 and 4 don't really work. The traffic splits up the couch area. Option 1 worked better but wasn't ideal because the traffic still has to walk through the couch area to get to the room next to the stairs.
The other issues with these layouts was the TV. (A few people have asked what tool I'm using for the floor plans, it's Floorplanner, which has been great to get an idea of the room and how furniture scales in the actual room measurements.)
After working through a few more options, I wasn't really happy with any of them. There was really only one option that I even liked.
I decided to our floor plan and challenge on Houzz. Have you ever used their advice section? (This is not a sponsored post, seriously I just thought it could be a place to get help). I posted about my living room with my floor options and was overwhelmed with the amount of great input and suggestions I received.
Here is a reminder of what the room looks like with the front door opening right into it from the other side of the room.
The fireplace is behind us in this picture. You can see the blue tape on the floor of where I marked to see what the couch would look like perpendicular to the door...so not a fit.
And here is what the group came up with put into an actual layout.
I am obsessed. Even though the door opens in and looks at the couch, it's really the best set up to allow for a walk flow to all the doors that go in and out of this room. To get to the room next to the stairs you still have to walk through the couch area but the pairing of the couch and bench frame the space to give the seating area more structure. I have set the room up like this using the furniture we already had with a bench and our sofa instead of a sectional.
We have loved the set up so far. The chest by the door is where we drop off things when you walk in the door and the set up of the couch and bench makes the room feel structured when you first walk in but can be cozy at the same time. The TV is against the stair rail/wall, which works for where the couch is placed.