Design experts reveal the one place you should never put a sofa in a living room

Working out where to put a sofa in a living room? Experts reveal why you shouldn't put it in front of a window

Small white living room with grey L-shaped sofa
(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Where you place the sofa in the living room is just as big a decision as choosing the sofa itself. It really can make or break the space, and if you're thinking of putting it in front of a window, you might want to hit pause for a moment.

The best sofas are a natural focal point in the living room. We often plan our whole living room layout around them, so it's important to get the positioning of the sofa just right. And placing it in front of a window may seem like a good idea, given that the window is another natural focal point in the room. 

But, there are a couple of things to consider before you go and plant your couch in front of your family room window. The experts have a few thoughts on the subject, and we wanted to know more so we could avoid any potential living room mistakes.

Pink living room with pink curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Should you put a sofa in front of a window?

'It’s a good idea to have a focal point in your living room to give your space a sense of purpose and make it feel more inviting,' says Yvonne Keal, Senior Product Manager, Hillarys. 'Furniture like sofas can offer this but it’s important to place them in an optimum position to suit your space.'

The question is, should you put a sofa in front of a window? And if not, what should we do instead? Here's everything you need to know about making the most of your beloved sofa.

Why you shouldn't put your sofa in front of a window

Ideally, a sofa should not be in front of a window. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because natural light will struggle to fill the room if there's a sofa blocking the window. 

While living room lighting ideas can transform a room, it's important to maximise natural light as much as possible, to help your living room feel bright, airy, and spacious. This is especially true for certain living room colour schemes; if you have a darker toned space, you need to allow natural light to fill the room so it doesn't feel too enclosing. 

Therefore, the general consensus among the experts is that you should avoid putting your sofa in front of a window if you can. 'It’s not advised to place your sofa in the centre of your living room window, as this would block any natural light from entering your room, which is limited in winter anyway,' says Yvonne from Hillarys.

A living room with a sofa and houseplants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Placing your sofa in front of a window can also be problematic for the couch's longevity. Condensation on windows can lead to damp, which may spread to your sofa and ruin the fabric. Though you can learn to stop condensation, putting the sofa in front of the window will prevent the air circulating freely around the room, causing more condensation - and damp - to form.

Plus, if you want to keep your house warm in winter, putting a sofa in front of the window won't help with this. 'It may seem like a little thing but natural sunlight through your window can make a big difference to the temperature of your space,' Yvonne explains. 'If you place your sofa directly in front of your window it may block natural sunlight from entering, which means the sunshine can’t heat your space in chillier months.'

Where is the best place to put a sofa?

So what's the best alternative to putting your sofa in front of a window? The answer will depend on the layout and size of your living room. 'When deciding where to place a sofa, the most important thing is that it faces a focal point within the room, whether that’s the fireplace or the television,' says Shelley Cochrane, Accessories Buyer at Furniture Village.

White living room with large brass table lamp behind mustard sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Placing your sofa opposite your living room fireplace ideas, for example, will naturally draw the eye to the sofa and fireplace as the two major elements of the room. It's worth having a clear idea of what you want the focal point of your living room to be.

'For example, if you have a period property with a statement bay or sash window, you likely won’t want your sofa to detract from this,' explains Lena Gierasinska, Head of Product and Displays at Barker and Stonehouse. 'Similarly, if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful view of the countryside or coast, you might want your sofa to instead face the window so that you can enjoy the scenery.'

Consider also the flow of traffic within the room. The sofa needs to be placed so that it doesn't disrupt this but instead complements your living room layout.

What if you need to put a sofa in front of the window?

While it's not ideal to place a sofa in front of a window, sometimes, this can't be avoided. Perhaps you're working with small living room ideas, and it just isn't feasible to position your sofa anywhere else. 

Small white living room with grey L-shaped sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimise any negative outcomes. 'If your space requires you to place your sofa in front of a window, the best practice is to ensure there are at least a few inches between the glass itself, and the back of the sofa,' says Sam Greig, Senior Designer, Swoon. 'Not only will this ensure any chills, moisture, or draughts are kept away from your sofa’s textiles, but it also looks much more appealing – giving the illusion of more space than you actually have.'

Less light will be able to fill the room, but you can use living room mirror ideas to help any natural light bounce around the room. And opt for a smaller sized sofa so it doesn't block the full window. 

'A smaller, more compact sofa might work well however, blocking less of the window and allowing more light in,' says Lena from Barker and Stonehouse. 'For those with floor to ceiling windows, blocking out light is less likely to be a problem and even large sofas can be placed in front of these windows without issue.'


What furniture can I put in front of a window?

When it comes to placing furniture in front of a window, always consider light and shade. Will the piece block light flow into your room? How will your blinds or curtains affect the piece when they are closed? 

'For example, a large ornamental plant or sculpture works well in front of a window – as the natural sunlight acts as a spotlight to draw your attention to the beautiful objects,' says designer Sam. 'However, taller structures such as bookshelves or wardrobes are better placed away from the window, to allow organic light into the space and avoid shading unnecessarily.'

'You may wish to position your desk in front of the window so that you can overlook the garden whilst working,' Sally from Furniture Village suggests. 'Alternatively a console table styled with potted plants works well in front of a window, drawing the eye towards this part of the room.'

Is it OK to put a sofa in front of a window?

While it's better to avoid putting a sofa in front of a window if you can, it is still OK to do so if the space requires it.

'It's commonly recommended to avoid placing a sofa in front of a window to prevent obstructing natural light,' says Lena from Barker and Stonehouse. 'If you need to place your sofa in this location, consider choosing a design with a low back, to limit blocking light from the window.'

Lena adds, 'it's also important to consider that sunlight can cause fabrics to fade, so you should carefully consider your fabric choices and colours – for example, high-quality polyester velvets can be more resilient to light.'

So, choose the right kind of sofa if you're putting it in front of a window. One that isn't too big, and one that's going to stand the test of time.

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.