Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Decorate a Long Narrow Living Room

Long Narrow Rooms
Photo via Pixabay

We see photos online of beautifully decorated long, narrow living rooms and think, 'Oh, that's easy to do,' until we're actually face to face with our own blank space to fill.

Long, narrow living rooms provide several challenges.

Here's a list of the Do's and Don'ts when it comes to planning the furniture layout for your skinny space:

Don't:  Don't jam all the furniture against the walls.

You're not alone in thinking that placing furniture against a wall will make a room seem larger. However, it's the opposite ... furniture jammed against the wall all around a long, narrow space will merely add to the 'bowling ball feel.'

DO: Pull furniture away from the wall on at least one side. For example, do you have a loveseat or couch that can be pulled away from the wall?

If your room's shape permits it, pull the sofa away from the wall by about a foot (or whatever distance your room allows) and place a long, narrow table behind it featuring tall lamps and a photo collage that goes to the ceiling. Pulling the furniture away from the wall and adding the decorative table can create a cozier, inviting sitting area.

If the room doesn't allow for any furniture to be pulled away from the wall, then place a rug in front of the couch and position the complimentary chairs perpendicular to the couch. That way, you still get the effect of a cozy sitting area.


Don't: Don't fill the room without thinking about the walkway through the space.

How will people get from one area to another? Without a clear flow, the room will appear balanced and clear.

DO: No matter how you position the furniture in your space, keep a clear path for people to walk from one part of the space to the other.

If you're wondering what a clear path means, design your layout so people don't have to zig and zag around things to get through the space.

Don't: Don't restrict yourself to using long regular sofas.

It's harder to create cozy seating arrangements when you do this. It's not impossible; it's more challenging as the sofa will take up more room.

DO: Perpendicular designs are a practical layout for long, narrow living rooms, so try two love seats facing each other.

Again, use an area rug as their foundation and create a cozy seating area. If you add a wall unit or cabinet to the wall perpendicular to the sofas, you'll achieve a tighter, more comfortable feel.

Another tip: in tiny spaces, use smaller-sized furniture with legs. The open bottoms help the room to feel that much more available.

Don't: Don't use just square boxy furniture and tables. This makes the space too linear.

DO: Add some round or oval accessories.

A round ottoman coffee table or round wooden table will help to break up that back alley look. Use round and oval shapes in other accessories, such as lampshades and vases.

Don't: Don't just think of space usage horizontally.

Keeping everything at average height on the walls can make a long, narrow living room feel closed in.

DO: Go vertical with your design.

What does that mean? Position draperies where the wall meets the ceiling and have them drape down to the floor.

Or add a tall wall unit that reaches the ceiling or gets close to it.

Or try a lovely wall photo collage that goes up to the ceiling.

A narrow room always looks best when the person entering has their eyes drawn upward. So don't be afraid of patterned, vertically striped drapes.

Most Important Tip:
Jennifer Taylor Home Lewis Collection Modern Bolster Hand Tufted Upholstered Accent Entryway Bench With 2 Detachable Bolster Pillows, NavyJennifer Taylor Home Lewis Collection Modern Bolster Hand Tufted Upholstered Accent Entryway Bench With 2 Detachable Bolster Pillows, Navy

Divide the space into two or three areas. Think about what your home needs and design your divided areas accordingly.

Do you need an office area? If so, put the seating area at one end and the office area at the other. You can divide the space in several ways, using area rugs or a small open-two-sided bookcase (that is manageable).

If an office or a dining area isn't possible, create two sitting areas using area rugs to define them.

If there aren't a lot of windows or natural light in the room, it's best to keep the two rugs the same, very close to the same ... or in the same color family, or complementary.

One very cool trick when creating two sitting areas in an open space is to position a chaise or bench chaise so that it's accessible to both sides. Because the piece opens on both sides, it allows for people sitting on the bench to face either seating area.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. Below, You'll find a Growing Collection of Pins that Feature Long Narrow Living Room Designs, as well as Long Narrow Designs for Other Rooms in the Home:

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Barbara, having moved over 27 times in my life, I've encountered a large variety of homes and the rooms within them. Therefore I know that at some point in time each problem area will be discussed and solved by you. The decorating tips you share have been so helpful and have often created that "aha' moment (aha, THAT'S what I can do with this room, wall, area..... )Thanks so much for sharing your home decor knowledge with us. ~Elf

    1. 27 times! You must have encountered every decorating challenge there is lol - so much work to move so often, I'm exhausted for you :)

  2. Long narrow rooms are a real problem, I just realized that with our latest move, some of these have been addressed because our new space is much more square than ever before. It makes things so much easier. Plus I don't have so many doorways to work around. You have a great eye for making a space comfortable. I will pass this along to my son, who now has my old problems. Thanks!

  3. I always learn from your suggestions. I like the idea of dividing the area into a couple of different spaces, thinking outside the box (pun intended).

    1. Susan thank you, breaking up the space can work really well - I've changed our combo living dining room many times over the years - from one large space, to a dining living room combo, to an office living room combo - next job is a renovation, hopefully

  4. Many years ago, our home had a long den area. I didn't even realize I was following any decorator rule when I "broke" the room into parts by placing our small dining table on one end and our couch, tv & rocker on the other. It just seemed practical at the time. I do love you ideas!

    1. Cynthia, you have an eye for decorating without thinking about it too much, and thank you

  5. Lots of great ideas to decorate a long narrow living room here. I have done this before too. :)


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