How to arrange living room furniture at Christmas – to create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere

The best places to put your sofa and chairs for festive fun and connection

living room with white sofa and christmas tree
(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

If you're living room is subject to a festive takeover, with extra children, relatives, neighbours and dogs in the space, then your usual living room seating options may soon be overwhelmed and chaotic, rather than warm and welcoming. 

It's not just a lack of armchairs or living room sofa ideas that can be a problem either. We relax and socialise differently during the festive season – chats, board games and quizzes require tables and floor space, but we still want to be able to snuggle up on the sofa to watch Elf or the Doctor Who special on Christmas Day.

'If you’re preparing to host family or friends this festive season – whether for Christmas Day, a festive party, or a more laid-back night in – you might be wondering how you can comfortably fit everyone into your living room,' says Lou Petersen, head of design innovation at DFS. 'Fortunately, when it comes to living room seating, there are plenty of flexible options to keep everyone happy!'

How to arrange furniture at Christmas

The rules on how to arrange living room furniture can be tweaked at Christmas.

'For larger gatherings, make the space more versatile and inviting by using seating to divide your living room into different spaces,' suggests Lou Petersen at DFS. 'Keep one end open and spacious for mingling, by moving furniture towards the edges of a room. At the other end, create cosy conversation nooks – placing two sofas or accent chairs facing each other can work particularly well for this.'

Lou and other experts share their furniture layout ideas, and other interior design tips, to help you create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere this festive season.

1. Find the perfect spot for your Christmas tree

Living room with decorated Christmas tree, fireplace, sofa, and coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

If you're wondering where to put your Christmas tree, interior designer Cathy Dean has a genius answer that will help with your festive furniture arrangements.

The founder of Studio Dean says: 'We all have a "least used" spot in our living room that's ornamental rather than functional. It might be the armchair that looks pretty but we never sit in it, the spot with the sideboard and lamp on it – that's the spot for your tree! Move the ornamental piece out and place your new festive decorations there. It's likely to be the most that area has been used all year.'

The added advantage is that if your tree is in a little-used spot, it's not taking up valuable real estate in a busier part of your living room that you'd usually fill with seating.

2. Put sofas in front of the fire

snug with dark panelled walls, pink sofa and light ceiling with lamps and wood-burner

(Image credit: Future)

Whether you have a small living room or a larger entertaining space, where you position your sofa is key to creating a welcoming atmosphere, particularly at Christmastime.

'For me, Christmas is all about getting cosy with friends and family, and nothing says cosy like comfortable sofas nestled around a roaring fire,' says interior designer Jojo Bradley. 'Not only is it a stunning focal point, adorned with festive mantel decor ideas, it invites warmth and conversation. 

'The key is in the arrangement,' Jojo adds. 'Face your sofas and chairs towards each other and make sure there are clear pathways for replenishing those drinks and nibbles. And don't forget coffee tables and side tables so that you can set your cocktails and canapes safely aside.'

3. Repurpose seating from other rooms

White living room with fireplace, armchair and foorstool

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While everyone naturally wants the best spot on the sofa, if you’re having a bigger gathering, bringing in additional seating options can be necessary to give people somewhere to perch.

'Make use of dining furniture – benches are great for providing a comfortable but flexible seating area,' suggests Lou Petersen from DFS. 'Or introduce a couple of colourful footstools to create more seating options and build the welcoming atmosphere of the space.'

'We love cube footstool to work as occasional seating,' agrees Cathy Dean from Studio Dean. 'Throughout the year they can happily hide in plain sight under the coffee table or to the side of the room as an additional occasional table. But for Christmas, they come into their own as essential board game-playing spots!'

4. Don't forget cosy lighting

Christmas living room with tree with stripy bows and armchair.

(Image credit: Future)

There's nothing worse than getting the furniture arrangement just right, but everyone hanging out in the kitchen anyway because it feels more welcoming!

'Think about your lighting,' says Jojo Bradley. 'Cosy means no harsh lights, so turn on  table lamps and position them in the corners of a room so that they warm the mood and diffuse the light.'

Bonus points if you put a reading lamp behind an armchair, making the perfect reading corner idea for someone to sit in a quiet and cosy corner if they don't want to be in the centre of the festive fray.

5. Mix up a modular sofa x Hygge for Home Romy sofa

(Image credit:

If you already have a modular sofa, then don't be afraid to reconfigure it throughout the festivities. The multi-piece design means it can be broken up to suit different activities.

'A modular sofa can be a great option to keep your living room even more flexible,' agrees Lou Petersen. 'You can rearrange it for any occasion – whether that means creating conversational seating areas for guests, a comfy reading nook, or a sofa for the whole family to stretch out and have a Christmas movie night!'

6. Dress up your sofa for the occasion

Christmas tree with colourful baubles in living room with coloured sofas

(Image credit: Future)

You don't want family and friends to feel chilly and uncomfortable, so be inspired by some cosy living room ideas and add a few little luxuries that will make them feel at home.

'Textures are key to creating a cosy Christmas atmosphere, so invest in some gorgeous wool throws or sheepskin rugs as finishing touches,' recommends Jojo Bradley. 'Mix your textures and consider adding additional cushions to your sofa for extra lounging and comfort. For this, you can't beat an oversized velvet fabric for absolute luxury.'

With furniture and home comforts in place, your biggest challenge may be encouraging guests to leave when the festivities are over!

Andrea Childs

Andrea began her journalism career at Ideal Home and is currently Editor of our sister title, Country Homes & Interiors, which celebrates modern country style. Andrea is passionate about colour and how it can transform both our homes and our sense of wellbeing, and has completed The Power of Colour course with the prestigious KLC School of Design. Andrea's career spans interiors magazines, women's lifestyle titles and newspapers. After her first job at Ideal Home, she moved on to women's magazines, Options and Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for