Feng Shui and Your Living Room Sofa

Feng shui, in some circles, is associated with the art of placement. While it’s true to some extent that the way that furniture, such as the sofa, is placed in the living room impacts the overall flow and feel of the space, it doesn’t necessarily follow that furniture must be arranged in a precise way or you’re going to be miserable and have bad luck for the rest of your life. In this article, we will look at feng shui principles as they pertain to the living room sofa so that your living room can feel welcoming and fresh and so that positive qi can flow freely throughout the space.

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Note: Some people feel that feng shui is a certain style of interior decorating. While there are guidelines to enhance the feeling of security and serenity in a space, feng shui principles can – and should! – be applied to any style of décor. As you will see in the photos of this article, a variety of sofa styles are included.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Position your sofa against a solid wall.

The sofa is typically the main furniture piece in a living room. While interior trends lean toward floating the furniture out in the middle of the living room, this is actually poor feng shui. In order for people to feel truly secure, the largest seating element of a space should be “anchored” against a solid wall (similar to the headboard in a bedroom).

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Feng shui leans toward the connection between feelings of instability in family life and work, wealth, and health and floating (or unstable) living room sofas. While the correlation might seem odd to some, try it: float your sofa in the middle of the living room and see how it feels. Do the same with the sofa against a solid wall. You’re going to feel inherently more vulnerable with it floating and more secure with it anchored against the wall.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: The sofa doesn’t have to touch the wall.

While the sofa works best, in a feng shui living room, with its back next to a solid wall, this doesn’t mean that it must be pressed up against the wall. A couple of inches of space between the sofa actually allows for a little more air flow around the sofa without sacrificing the feeling of security that the wall brings.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Avoid positioning the sofa against window(s).

This is Part B, in a way, of the tips we’ve already discussed, but it lends clarity to the sofa positioning. Windows are similar to doorways in feng shui, in that they provide opportunity for unknown movement.

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When a person can’t be aware of moving parts around them (when the person is required to face away), s/he will have a harder time feeling comfortable and relaxing, because survival instincts will kick in. So, even if your sofa for some reason can’t be positioned against a solid wall, at the very least make sure it is positioned so it’s not backed against a window.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Position sofa with a view of the main door.

When someone sits on the sofa in your feng shui living room, s/he should be able to see the main entrance of the living room. This increases the body’s awareness and ability to relax because the unknown factor is eliminated, or at least significantly reduced. If this isn’t possible, consider hanging a mirror in such a way that sofa-sitters can see the door through the mirror’s reflection.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Accessorize the sofa comfortably.

We’ve all been in the living room with a sofa that’s so stuffed with throw pillows that there’s barely room to perch on the edge of the cushion, let alone sit comfortably and relaxed. Good feng shui sofas will be comfortable in their own right, and they will also be furnished or accessorized comfortably – pillows and/or throws to lend comfort but not in excess.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Avoid placing the main sofa under a ceiling beam.

Ceiling beams in feng shui are traditionally bad luck, or conducive to poor health. In some ways, this can be traced back to the potential for earthquakes and tremors in China, which resulted in higher risk for persons below ceiling beams.

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However, some people like the charm and architectural appeal of ceiling beams. Particularly in current popular interior design, ceiling beams are a star player. For those who have ceiling beams but don’t feel that comfortable with them, consider painting the beam the same color as the ceiling to lessen its visual impact. Otherwise, simply rearrange the sofa so it’s not directly under the beam, and enjoy.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Avoid L-shaped (sectional) sofas in the living room.

Sectionals are popular sofa options for today’s living room, likely because they fit more people in less seating space. However, sectionals result in bad feng shui, because the “L” shape of most sectionals inherently forms a large, hard angle (“poison arrow”) in the living room.

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If your family simply needs or really wants a sectional sofa, consider lessening the harsh impact of the corner by placing a large plant behind the angle to serve as a buffer. Another solution is to position the sectional against a wall so the “arrow” aspect is decreased.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Avoid placing two sofas directly across from each other.

In feng shui, when two pieces of furniture directly face each other, it results in the “confrontational position,” which is uncomfortable for most people. Most people inherently want to be slightly off-center from whomever they are talking with, rather than directly in front.

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If you have two large sofas or a sofa and loveseat that need to comprise a conversational area in your living room, consider angling one of the pieces of furniture a bit. Or you could slide one piece of furniture over so the two large seating furniture pieces aren’t destined for a head-on collision.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Keep sofa in proportion to the size of the room.

Be aware that there is a decided correlation with the comfort of a room and proportionate furnishings. Sofas that are too large, or a living room that has too much furniture, will make the entire living room feel cramped and awkward.

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Conversely, sofas that are tiny or all alone have a tendency to make a large living room feel empty and awkward. Choose a sofa (and other furniture) that is proportionate to the room. While you may not want a single huge sofa if your living room is large, consider purchasing a sofa and loveseat, or two sofas, to help keep ratios intact for optimum comfort and security.

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Feng Shui Sofa Tip: Position sofa near the room’s focal point(s).

When a sofa is placed on the opposite wall of a living room focal point (e.g., fireplace, large picture window, a TV, eye-catching wall, etc.), it divides the room and creates a feeling of discord. Instead, position the sofa on the same wall as, or the neighboring wall to, the focal point so as to bridge the gap, so to speak. The sofa’s arrangement in this way allows people to enjoy the focal point(s) more fully, without any division.

Amateur Corner: Real-Life Application for a Feng Shui Sofa

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This living room sofa setup could use some of the tips from this article. In this somewhat small living room, there is one sofa, one loveseat, and one chair for sitting on. (Plus a piano and piano bench, not shown fully here.) Getting the layout right is critical for this space.

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A good feng shui move is the proportion of this sofa; it is on the smaller side, and the living room itself is on the small side.

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Unfortunately, in keeping with some interior design “rules” that I discovered a couple of years ago, the sofa is pulled away from the wall, floating in the center of the room. This is supposed to help the room flow more freely and spaciously; however, in this instance, it does more to crowd the space than anything else.

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Pushing the sofa against the wall (the only solid wall in this living room, coincidentally) helped the living room immediately feel more stable.  However, the sofa slid under the shelf just enough to make anyone sitting on this corner of the couch feel uncomfortable, like their head was going to hit the shelf.

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A slight shift of about 6”-8” to the left removed the discomfort of the shelf’s proximity and kept the sofa grounded against the wall. Or a few inches away from the wall, anyway, but still anchored in.

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The challenge of a small living room like this, or one of the challenges, is that there are two focal points: the fireplace and a large bay window. These two focal points are already on adjacent walls, but the solitary solid wall is adjacent to just one of them. So there is poor feng shui in the need to split the focal points from the sofa, if the sofa is going to be anchored to the solid wall. Also, the only arrangement of sofa and loveseat conversational area that makes sense is for them to face each other (otherwise, the loveseat blocks the fireplace or the entrance of the living room overall). This is a confrontational layout and not ideal for a feng shui sofa.

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One of the ways to combat this arrangement is to place a coffee table or some kind of buffer between the two seating pieces. Even something as simple as a coffee table helps people who are sitting there feel less exposed and vulnerable. In seeing this arrangement, I believe this to be true. There’s an intangible protective barrier around both pieces of furniture.

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This sofa also has good feng shui alignment due to its diagonal view of the home’s entryway/front door. All in all, a few adjustments have made a positive impact on the energy of this space.