The room has been emptied, cleaned and painted (please tell me you painted--be brave, try a new color on the walls. It will feel SO good.). Now slowly add furnishings to the room. Look at the room in the picture (by Van Chaplin) and read these tips;
1) Don't line everything up against the wall. Pull that sofa out a bit, then a bit more. Maybe a sofa table will end up going behind it. I love a sofa table because I can put a lamp on it. That makes reading easier. Bring chairs right up near the coffee table so guests can talk easily and they can reach their tea and crumpets. You can always walk behind furniture in the room, you don't have to walk in front of it all the time.
2) Try a new placement plan. We do NOT need to put the furniture back where it was. Just because there's a big wall, that does not mean the sofa has to go there. Two chairs could go there, or a big cabinet, armoire, chunky thing of any kind. Shake it up! Switch it around! Change is good!
3) Try something at an angle. While I don't like everything angled, sometimes that's a nice change. Give it a try.
4) Have a comfortable path, a way for people to walk into and out of the space.
5) Go easy on the eyes--not too much to look at. Think clean lines, smooth flow. Also, it's not a good idea to have everything at the same height, so seat back heights could vary a bit and that would feel nice.
6) Here's a HUGE concept that I learned in design school (also called college); for a truly comfortable and at least semi casual feeling; vary your textures. Don't go all smooth, which gives a very formal feeling and flat if you ask me. Don't go all nubby and textural, this is not a primitive bazaar. Mix it up. Have some smooth, some soft, some nubby. People skip this one all the time and then wonder why their rooms don't feel right.
Once you have the furnishings the way you might like them to be, give it a few days to tweak until it really feels good.
Accessories are next.