How to Decorate a Narrow Rectangle Living Room

Updated February 21, 2017

It's pretty easy to furnish, decorate and accessorise living rooms that offer equally proportioned wall dimensions. But you'll need some magic tricks to tackle a living room that's narrow and rectangular with no architectural features to break up the layout. Employ optical illusions interior decorators are taught to use when dealing with room shape challenges and you'll not only make good use of every square foot of floor space in your living room, you'll produce two separate living areas that are functional and gorgeous.

Mentally view the narrow, rectangular room as two segments of living space that need to be divided.

Choose from a variety of room dividers that, when placed properly, create two living areas from one: pillars, bookcases, ceiling-mounted tapestries, drapes, canopies, shoji screens or dramatic artefacts like Chinese robes and ethnic shawls---anything you can dream up that has the potential to carve out two distinct living areas from one narrow, rectangular space.

Mount, hang, suspend or erect your room divider first, as this architectural element will impact the way you arrange each living space. Paint both of the "short" walls at either end a dramatic, dark colour to create the illusion of shortening the length of the narrow room. Paint the long walls white or a light hue to equalise the room's perspective and draw attention away from its narrow configuration.

Add square area rugs to both portions of the apartment to create the illusion that each floor covering occupies the middle of a unique space. Choose rug colours that grab attention while establishing each area's mood. Place seating arrangements---couch, coffee table, chairs or dining room set--at the centre of each space.

Use lighting to help reshape your narrow, rectangular living room. Strategically place floor lamps at the furthest ends of each section and in corners beside seating units to visually expand each room's appearance. Install three lights in each half of the rectangular living room, so you've added six lighting units total.

Add decorative touches to further separate living areas you've carved out of your long, narrow, rectangular living room. A painting, lithograph or poster that dominates a wall may be all you need to complete a room setting. Hang a decorative shelf on a wall and then display jars, crystal vases and other treasures.

Display collections of figurines, candles or boxes atop bookcases used to divide your long living room. Add additional decorative objects to each vignette that complement colours used on either side of the narrow, rectangular room.

Things You'll Need

  • Room divider
  • Paint
  • Area rugs
  • Lighting
  • Decor accessories
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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.