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I am often asked about rules of thumb and standard measurements for design layout. How high should a light fixture be hung? What is the right proportion of a rug to a couch? What is the right distance between a seating area and a TV?

Over the years, I have collected a list of measurements that I thought you would find useful. Here are some helpful rules of thumb designers use when it comes to laying out a room or installing various home decor accents:

1. Living room

The distance between seating arrangements should be no more than 8 to 10 feet between seating to facilitate conversation.

The amount of fabric needed to recover depends on a couple of things. Most fabric comes in 54-inch-wide bolts and for a standard 84-inch sofa, you will need 14–18 yards, depending on the fabric design and the sofa design.

Televisions should be 8 feet away from the viewing location. However, with the size of screens today, calculate the maximum distance by multiplying your screen size by 3.

If you have your sofa along a wall, it should be placed 1 foot away from the wall.

The coffee table length for an 84-inch sofa should be 60 inches.

The right distance between the sofa and the coffee table is 18 inches.

2. Dining Room

A 48-inch-diameter round table will seat four comfortably, while a 60-inch round table will seat six comfortably. If you are wondering what size table will fit in your dining room, there should be 42–48 inches between the table and the wall or other furniture so diners can easily get in and out of the table. Most tables are 30 inches high and that table height calls for a chair that has an 18-inch seat height.

A rug under a dining table should be at least 24 inches longer and wider than the table, and 30-36 inches is ideal. This way, chairs stay on the rug even when they are pulled out.

3. Lighting

Overhead (pendant) lights should be 7 feet above the floor.

For an 8-foot ceiling, hang chandeliers so that the bottom of the fixture is 36 inches above the dining table. If your ceiling is higher, add about 3 inches for each additional foot of ceiling height.

A dining chandelier’s width should be about one-half to two-thirds the width of the table.

Kitchen island pendant lights should be hung 30-36 inches over the island.

If your chandelier is not hanging over a table, add together the width and length of the room, in feet. Convert the feet to inches and that will tell you a good width for the chandelier to ensure proportionality.

Sconces should be installed at 66 inches high.

4. Curtains

Curtains should be mounted as high as possible to give a room more height.

Unless your design calls for pooling on the floor, drapes should be 1½ inches from the floor in length.

Curtains should be 2½ to three times the width of the window (1.25– 1.5 inches per panel).

5. Miscellaneous

A standard pass through distance around furniture is 36 inches.

Pillow inserts should be 2 inches larger than the pillow cover.

Artwork should be hung 62–66 inches from the floor.

Of course, rules of thumb are just guidelines. Use them as a starting point, but feel free to deviate to your own liking.

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Deborah Macdonald is the Napa-based owner of Napa At Home, an interior design enterprise. For information about her products and services, visit her website at NapaAtHome.com; call 707-255-0246; or email deborah@napaathome.com.

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