The living room tends to be a major area for social activity in the home, and how you arrange the furniture can either encourage or hamper that.

“Every piece of furniture you own might not have a perfect spot in your house, but it does have a best spot,” Myquillyn Smith, author of The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, told®. Smith sees several common furniture placement mistakes that homeowners make when arranging their living rooms. Here are a few don’ts to share with clients who are getting ready to sell:

1. Neglecting your focal wall.

The focal wall is the first thing a person sees when they enter the room, often featuring a fireplace, a picture window, or even a mounted TV. “The goal is to set up your room so that the majority of the seating is facing or angled toward the focal wall,” Smith says.

2. Cramming in too much furniture.

Most agents recognize how easy it is to make a space feel smaller by trying to squeeze in too much furniture or items that are too big for the space, but homeowners might need a reminder. Smith suggests focusing the room around a couch. “The sofa is usually the biggest, most important piece in the room,” Smith says. “So it gets priority.” Place the sofa in the space first and then reintroduce smaller pieces one by one to see if they work with the sofa. If not, move them out. 

3. Pushing the couch up against a wall.

Smith says one of the most common mistakes she sees is homeowners who push their sofa or other seating up against the wall. “About the only time a sofa looks right when it’s placed against the wall is when it’s a corner section and it’s in a corner,” Smith says. She suggests pulling the sofa out from the wall at least 12 inches to create white space and to help make the room feel larger.