As heterogeneous as British living rooms may sometimes seem, their decorator nevertheless uses an often very limited number of pieces of furniture. As the various elements are generally oriented towards the fireplace, following the principle of symmetry, it remains easy to find one's bearings in all the houses furnished in the traditional way.
While other countries consciously blur the boundaries between dining room, living room, library and even kitchen in order to create multifunctional living spaces, many Britons continue to strictly separate rooms by function. As a result, the furniture and decorative elements most often serve the functions of this room: conversation, rest, television, board games or tea tasting. The seats, armchairs and sofa in the most diverse shapes and with engaging upholstery, are of particular importance. next to the grouped seats we find individual armchairs intended for all those who do not wish to join in the conversation because they prefer to leaf through a magazine or a book. The tables and low tables, of different heights and sizes according to their functions, constitute the essential complement to its armchairs and sofas.
The fixed arrangement of furniture in the living room is a 19th century idea. In the 18th century, it was customary to arrange furniture as needed. Chairs and tables were only put back - let's say it was the role of the servants - against the wall, only when leaving the room, for example to go to bed. The center of the room thus remained clear. The flexible arrangement of the furniture naturally depended on the possibilities of cabinets, heating and lighting at the time. During the day, the occupants of the house stood close to the windows because of the light; in the evening, he moved to be closer to the warmth of the fireplace.
Source: Very British - Lifestyle and traditions of the British Isles