Should living room furniture be the same height? My first response to that is, why, and what would the fun of that be? I think a bit of height variety keeps things interesting when it comes to setting up a place to relax for you and your household and guests.
The Golden Ratio
1:1.618 represents the golden ratio, which designers have used for more than 2,500 years as of 2021. Apparently, it’s the standard we’re supposed to live by when determining the height of our living room furniture.
Regarding the golden ratio, Homes & Gardens Interior Designs Author Lucy Searle says, “It occurs multiple times in nature, from the proportion of human bodies to the spiral of seashells and is thought to be perfectly pleasing to the eye.”
I’m sure most people today don’t care that much about the golden ratio though. Besides, many living room pieces come together as a set, which makers have already designed to optimal proportions.
Height From The Floor
Source: Zuri Furniture
It doesn’t hurt to know about the golden ratio. However, I believe I have found more practical advice than the golden ratio involving seating.
“Seating should be between 15 and 18 inches off the ground. Any higher and a seat will feel too throne-like; any lower, and you will feel like you are sitting on the floor,” says New York Times Home & Garden’s Stephen Milioti.
This NY interior display expert supports the strict rules set by celebrity home designer Jeffrey Bilhuber, who designed David Bowie’s house. This advice came from 2007, but the 2021 recommendation means the difference of one inch.
Either way, I’m glad to learn that strict design protocol at least allows for some leeway, which is between three and four inches of a height difference from the floor.
Relative To Other Furniture
Coffee Table To Sofa (Or Chairs)
Coffee tables have an interesting purpose. Most ones I’ve seen, they sit level with the top of a couch seat. If alone or only a small group, people sometimes put their feet up on it if not using it for the feet.
However, I wouldn’t recommend putting your feet on it and get a footstool for that purpose instead. However, I do think the possibility of placing the feet on them when not using it to hold drinks may be the reason why they’re lower than round living room tables.
Round Living Room Table
I’ve seen round living room tables set in the center of the room in front of sofas and armchairs. In this case, I think the round tables with tall legs can extend a little taller than the seating that surrounds it.
Style wise, set higher than where people sit just looks exquisite. However, it also serves as a place for people to set and reach their beverages, snacks or meal plates without much strain.
Footrest To The Seat
If you ever tried to use a footrest that reaches above the bottom of the chair or sofa you’re sitting on, you probably can understand how uncomfortable that feels. I think a footrest should reach a height just a little bit lower – but not too much lower – than the place where you would sit.
End Tables to Seating
Source: Zuri Furniture
I’m fascinated by some of these new enable designs released by 2022. In particular, one piece takes the shape of a small letter “a” and supports itself just by four round pedestals that only extend about an inch off the floor, from what I can tell.
These pieces of furniture can sit way below a seat if their tops reach at least a couple of inches above where you sit. I like it when an end table allows me to comfortably reach for a cup of coffee, my mobile device or snacks on a plate, for instance. I might also use it as an arm rest of the chair or sofa I am sitting in doesn’t have one.
Accent Chair to Sofa
Source: Zuri Furniture
I’m all for an accent, side or armchair sitting a bit higher than the seating line of a sofa. The thin, long legs of many styles lend itself to this, as it does provide an aesthetic appeal. It also helps to have slight furniture height variations to accommodate for both short and tall people.
Recliners and Chaises
I think recliners and chaises defy the seating height rules when pairing living room furniture. They both may sit almost to the ground, but it’s because they’re meant for relaxation, napping and lounging.
Source: Ashley HomeStore
Second to sofas, recliners and chaises usually provide the most comfort for an informal gathering that calls for relaxation. I think they’re ideal for having groups of people over to watch a movie or just for sitting around chit-chatting.
Regarding chaises, some of them do have legs that reach as high as sofas or chairs. However, some of them might sit right on the ground with just four nonslip grip holders to keep them in place.
How to Correct Height
For the first time ever, I just saw a multitude of round and square furniture risers available. You can match them to your seating colors, and you can find some to use as pedestals in unleveled rooms, such as if you live in an old building where part of the foundation has sunk. They might correct height if you feel something seems just a bit “off” with your living room display.
I never tried these yet, but I already approve. It’s too bad I didn’t know about furniture risers the last time I tried to balance mine. All I had was whatever I could find at the dollar store, such as upside-down square organizer containers. I think the stackable risers I just discovered in 2022 would work much better for correcting furniture height.