How to design a long narrow living room

Furnishing and decorating a long, narrow room isn't as difficult a task as it might seem. Flooring, wall colours, the number of windows, height of the ceiling and your personal "living space" choices are all parts of the equation. Your biggest decision will be what living areas you want to create in the long, narrow space. The best scenario is to begin with a totally vacant room and build on it. If that isn't an option, begin with what you have and design around it.

Decide what living spaces you want to include in your room design. If a dining room is one of the options, your dining furniture should be close to the kitchen. Other spaces may include a formal sitting area and a media centre, music area or reading space. Several configurations can be incorporated into a long, narrow room and each can be made to feel like a separate room.

Choose one type of flooring for the entire room. Whether you select wood, tile, carpeting or stone, the key is to keep the colour light. The entire room should have the same base fabrication. Don't create your divisions with the flooring. Instead add area rugs. They become the centre of each living area you design within one room.

Buy furniture that has a "see through" quality. Choose side chairs with legs instead of bases and dining room sets that are light in design and colour, with chairs that the eye can pass through and a table base with spindle legs open up a room. You should avoid creating solid furniture barriers within this living space.

Paint all the walls of your long, narrow room the same light colour. Use artwork to visually separate the living areas and create a division of space. If the ceiling is high, use a shade darker for the ceiling. Add crown moulding and paint it the same shade as the ceiling so that it blends but still catches the eye decoratively. If you want a statement wall, an end wall is best. A shock of colour mid-space only stops the eye and consciously separates the spaces.

Decorate your windows with the same look throughout. Long, flowing drapery fabrics add elegance, but stay away from boxed valances since they make stopping spots as the eye travels the length of the room. Fabric Roman shades add texture and are fitted within the window frame. Wood or metal mini-blinds are also unobtrusive.

Use pieces of furniture as space dividers. To separate your dining area from its adjacent space, find an open-based side table and place it perpendicular to the wall. A large, silk flower arrangement adds colour and keeps the eye within the dining space. Continuing into the room, the next area should be placed on the side opposite the dining room. Don't put all the weight of the furnishings on one wall throughout. Use an Asian screen or a large potted plant as a separator. Float the chairs away from the wall. The space furthest into the room can be designed with the furniture centred. A sectional or circular sofa can face a media stand that's placed on the farthest wall. In this arrangement the back of the sofa creates a room division.


Mirrors widen a room. A vertically hung mirror creates a division while expanding the living space. A horizontally hung mirror reflects the opposite wall and opens up the space.


Avoid a tunnel-effect by balancing each living area on an opposite wall. Do not string a series of paintings lengthwise. They will visually extend the length of the room.

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About the Author

Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.