Published on August 21, 2019

Photography by Jason Frank Rothenberg

Last Friday, my boyfriend and I moved into a 774-square-foot apartment in New York City. After looking at what felt like thousands of places, we finally found one that had it all: lots of windows, chevron floors, a decent location, and a coveted open-plan kitchen. As someone who constantly suffers from FOMO, I wasn’t about to fall victim to cooking alone in a tiny galley, even if it meant forgoing an address in my favorite neighborhood. Everyone has different priorities, right?

Given we didn’t have an unlimited budget (I wish!), we had to compromise. Our rental’s open-plan layout is spacious as a whole, but it presented a few challenges: not a ton of room for a large sofa or sectional; limited dining space; and a lot of awkward, too small or narrow areas. Still, I was determined to find a solution that fit our lifestyle. I wanted ample seating for watching movies comfortably and entertaining friends for dinner; a reading chair for my better half (his must-have); and storage for books and games (Cards Against Humanity, anyone?). Here, have I laid out four floor plan options that would check all the boxes.

If you’re not a big TV person…

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Graphics by Madeline Montoya

Our apartment was once the building’s model unit, and this layout is in many ways similar to the one displayed in the rental ad—but with a few important additions: a daybed near the window, bookcases in lieu of a credenza, and a small bistro table for breakfast or small dinner parties. While it looks well proportioned at first glance, it has a few downsides. The sofa faces the kitchen (not ideal for watching TV), the bistro table can only seat four, and there is a lot of wasted square footage on either side of the sofa. This floor plan is great for people who have a separate dining room, but sadly, I am not one of them. 

The Pros
A daybed for naps by the window
Comfortable living room layout with 8-foot sofa
A whole wall of bookcases means more storage

The Cons
The sofa doesn’t face a TV wall
Centering the sofa creates wasted space
Only enough room for a small dining table

If you want a little of everything…

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Graphics by Madeline Montoya

In this scenario, you technically have it all—a sofa that faces a wall for watching TV, a larger banquette for dinner parties—but the couch sits very close to the wall and the island (there’s only 10 feet separating the two), leaving the whole room a little cramped. Walking into the dining area would feel like a less natural progression and, to top it off, precious square footage is wasted next to the kitchen.

The Pros
More room for dinner parties
The TV faces a wall for a TV or projector
Enough space for a longer 8-foot sofa

The Cons
The sofa is very close to the wall
Clearance between the kitchen island and sofa is limited
Less casual seating for guests

If you throw a lot of dinner parties…

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This layout solves a couple of issues that came up in the previous arrangement. The rotated sofa-and-two-chairs setup feels more spacious and makes it easier to circulate around the kitchen island. But this floor plan only allows for a small sofa and, again, it doesn’t face a TV wall. With an even roomier banquette, this option is perfect for people who prefer entertaining, but less so for loyal Netflix subscribers. 

The Pros
More space in the living room
More seating for guests
Dining table big enough for large dinner parties

The Cons
The sofa doesn’t directly face the TV
Can only fit a 7-foot sofa
Wasted square footage between the kitchen and the window wall

If you love movie nights…

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Graphics by Madeline Montoya

The last option is very flexible (with a few caveats). The L-shape sectional offers more seating and faces a large wall perfect for a TV or projector, which is also lined with a low storage unit. Next to the kitchen, a breakfast banquette allows for slightly more seating, since two people can easily squeeze on the 5-foot bench. The transitional space between the two areas is a small library with wall-mounted bookcases and two lounge chairs—ideal for quiet reading time or a predinner cocktail. While it’s still not 100 percent perfect, it makes the most of the awkward L-shape layout.

The Pros
Tons of seating for guests on the sectional
Two separate living areas
The room has a more natural flow

The Cons
Smaller dining area
Sectional could feel clunky in the small space
Not a lot of room for side tables

So which floor plan would you choose? Would you make any changes? I’m all ears.

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