Of course rules are made to be broken, but it’s important to know them before you can break them. I teach a class called Rules and Tools of Interior Design at the Regional Art Center, in Troy, NY:
It is a class that discusses elements and principles of Interior Design. It truly is a class for analytical types as it breaks down why some rooms work and other fail. It is a fairly interactive class, but what people always want to know first are some very basic questions about measurements. How far should my coffee table be from the sofa? (18″ to 20″) How high should my chandelier be hung over a dining table (36″). Etc. etc. The following are guidelines to the most often asked questions:
Coffee tables. The ideal space from the sofa is between eighteen and twenty inches. The size of the table should be two-thirds the length of the sofa. The height should be a couple inches lower than the height of the sofa.
End tables and nightstands. These should be similar to the arm height of your chairs or the height of your mattress. A good average is twenty four to twenty eight inches.
Rugs. Go big, if the rug just fits under the coffee table it is too small. Strive for about sixty percent coverage of the floor, with at least twelve inches of floor exposed around the edge of the room.
Artwork. The center of the art should always be approximately sixty inches from the floor. Two inches between art pieces is a good guide to follow when hanging groupings.
Lamps. The bottom of the shade should always be at eye level. For floor lamps sixty eight inches is ideal. This keeps the bulb concealed when sitting or standing. Sconces should be mounted sixty inches from floor. If the sconces are flanking a mirror or an art piece, leave at least three inches from the mirror or art piece.
I hope these guidelines help with your space planning!