Living Rooms Measurements

Understanding the Mathematics of Decorating

Living Room Measurements Worth Knowing
Getty Images / Hero Images

Ever wonder how high to hang your artwork or how much room to leave between your couch and your coffee table? Of course you have! Even the most seasoned of decorators need a reminder every now and then about the basic rules of decorating.

Window Treatments

Curtains and drapes exist not only to keep out light and provide privacy, but also they offer a great opportunity to add softness, color, and pattern to a room. Keep the following numbers in mind when hanging them.

2”—​ The minimum distance from top of window casing to curtain rod. To create the illusion of a taller window, mount drapery rods close to the ceiling.

4” to 10”—The distance from window casing to end of curtain rod (excluding finials) on each side of the window. The greater the distance the wider the window will appear.

2x—Drapery panels should have a combined width of at least double the width of the window. If you have two panels each should be at least the width of the window.

0”—The distance curtains should hang above the floor. They should always skim the floor, or for an elegant look, puddle slightly on the floor (approximately 2 inches).


No room is complete without something hanging on the walls. The below guidelines will help determine where and how to hang artwork.

56” to 60”—The height to center of artwork (or eye level). When hanging two or more pieces of artwork, treat them as one large piece - find the center point between them all and use the same rule.

2”—The approximate space that should exist between pieces of art hung in a group.

4” to 8”—The ideal space between the top of a sofa and bottom of a piece of art (single or group).

100—Number of pounds larger picture hooks can handle. Use them rather than nails or screws.


Most rooms require a variety of different types of lighting, all placed at different levels around the room. Here are a few tips.

68”—The ideal height of a floor lamp (traditional shades will conceal the bulb at this height whether you’re seated or standing).

60”—The minimum height at which to hang wall sconces.

3” to 6”—The space between a wall sconce and the edge of a mirror or piece of art it’s flanking.

7”—The minimum distance the bottom of a hanging light fixture should be from the floor (if it’s in a space where people will be walking underneath).

36”—The distance a light switch should be above the floor. Leave 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches between the switch and door trim.


Arranging furniture is one of the elements of decorating that continues to confound people. The following numbers will help eliminate the confusion (as will these 10 tips for arranging furniture).

18”—The ideal distance between the couch and the coffee table.

10” to 20”—The ideal distance between the edges of an area rug and the walls in an average size room.

36”—The ideal distance between the wall and a piece of furniture.

32”—The average height of wainscoting (in a room with an 8-foot ceiling).

12”—The ideal depth of a bookshelf (or 15 inches to fit oversize art books)

42”—The ideal distance between living room chairs placed side by side, so a table can fit between.

24”—The ideal distance between living room chairs placed side by side in a smaller room.

Color and Pattern

When it comes to color and pattern it’s tough to pin down rules. This is where it’s really important to trust your instincts. However, if you’re really having trouble these two guidelines will help.

60%—The amount of space your main color should cover (this is usually covered by the walls). Use two accent colors (15 percent each) to fill in most of the rest of the space and one more strong color (10 percent) to add some excitement.

3—The ideal number of patterns to use in a room. Mix the scale using one large, one medium, and one small (or some other combination of the three).

The above numbers all exist to act as guidelines. In no way are they meant to be definite and final. When decorating any room it’s important to trust your eye and your gut. If you stray from some of these rules but you feel what you’ve done works, stick with it.