Long, narrow living rooms can be a chore to lay out and decorate, not to mention live in. Nobody wants to feel like they’re entertaining in a train carriage or watching TV in a hallway. But with some layout tweaks and a few visual tricks up your sleeve, you can learn to love your long room. Here are five ways to lay out a long, narrow living room, plus some bonus tips on how to really rock the space.
1. Create Separate Zones
Often, long rooms are a blessing in disguise, because they can serve as open-plan spaces. Instead of having one larger-but-awkward living room, why not create a smaller living area, plus a den, study area, or breakfast nook?
In the sketch above, we have a traditional TV area (which you can create with a smaller sofa to save space)inte, plus a cozy den-like conversation nook, complete with surrounding wall-to-wall bookshelves to really delineate the space. You can also zone these separate areas with rugs, lights and/or color so it feels intentional.
2. Alternate your Furniture Groupings
If possible, try to avoid having all your furniture on one side of the long wall. By alternating furniture groupings, as the space above does, it forces the traffic flow to take on an “S” shape, and avoids half the room just feeling like a straight hallway. It’s a sneaky way to ensure you actually use more of the space.
3. Arrange Things Across the Space
When working with a long space, it’s best to arrange things cross-wise when possible, which visually pushes the walls outward, making the room seem wider.
Instead of one sofa against the longer wall, the space above uses two shorter ones, placed width-wise in the space. This visually pushes the walls outward, a trick that’s repeated with the console table behind the sofa, and the long bookshelf on the far wall.
4. Work with the Middle
Just because a room is long, doesn’t mean you need to fill it all with furniture. The space above centers the furniture arrangement in the middle, leaving the sides as open, but not dead, space. This works particularly well in a symmetrical room, when the furniture can be centered around a window or fireplace.
5. Utilize an L-Shaped Sofa
A proper corner sofa, even more so than one with a chaise, can really use the space in a long room well. The room above uses one, and several of the other tips above, to create a usable layout. Notice how the furniture arrangement at the other end of the room (two chairs, a side table and a console) mimic but flip the shape of the sofa, too.
3 Trusty Design Tips for a Narrow Room
Create a Focus at the End(s)
In a long room, the eye is naturally drawn to the ends of the space. Making sure it lands on something beautiful is a surefire way to make that wall seem closer, and the room therefore less narrow. Think eye-catching, large-scale art, two comfy chairs, or a stunning piece of vintage furniture. In this one case however, avoid mirrors, which will make the space seem longer, and small-scale art, which can seem further away. If you don’t have an oversize painting or photograph, grouping like pieces in a tight grid like the arrangement seen in the above room from Nuevo Estilo will have the same effect.
Push the Walls Out
A favorite trick of designers, when working with long narrow spaces, is to expand the width of the space by using visual tricks to “push” the long walls further away from each other. This includes furniture layouts as Arrangement 3 above, but also decisions like running any wood flooring across the space rather than down it, using linear lighting, or even striped fabrics (like the rug in this room from Better Homes & Gardens) and wall treatments, so long as they are oriented width-wise in the room.
Lean into Long with a Gallery Wall
If you really can’t do much about the layout or features of your room, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaning into your long layout (yikes, try saying that five times fast). While gallery walls aren’t strictly “fresh” any more, there’s just something that tickles me about one in a long space (maybe it’s the English stately home enthusiast in me). Hang items floor-to-ceiling, in an organic, not-too-regimented way (I’m digging this arrangement in a room from Avenue Lifestyle), and you might find you love your long living room, after all.