How to Decorate an L-Shaped Living Room

According to Your Design Hotline proprietors Teri and Cindy, the L-shaped room rose to popularity with the advent of ranch homes in the 1950s. Its odd shape poses a decorating challenge. Although the "L" lends itself perfectly to practical, dual-use space, such as a family room and office or living room and dining room, a look that flows visually and functionally is difficult to achieve. Consider such elements of design as furniture placement, colour, lighting and decorative accessories when planning the layout and decor of your L-shape room.

Choose a focal point for each section of the "L." A fireplace, large window or built-in bookcase works well.

Place each room section's largest piece of furniture directly across from its focal point.

Arrange the next largest furniture pieces. If the largest is a sofa, place the love seat and other seating directly across from it or to its sides at 90-degree angles. If the largest is a dining table or desk, make sure its scale is proportionate to the size of the room.

Fill bare space with smaller furniture. Break up a too-long expanse of wall with a buffet or sofa table.

Extend furniture in a larger room by placing pieces farther away from each other and by arranging it on area rugs.

Walk through both sides of the "L," using all entrances to the room, to make sure the room's traffic pattern -- its flow -- is unimpeded. Rearrange furniture, if necessary, to open pathways for clear passage.

Add accessories to tie together the room's disparate elements. Use items of varying heights to add interest.

Light the room with general, task and mood lighting. Attempt to achieve a three-point lighting design in which each area of the room has a wash of overhead lighting and task and mood lighting coming from two directions. The intent is to provide ample light while minimising shadows and glare.


Some designers recommend angling furniture in L-shaped rooms. If your room has an angled focal point, place the largest piece of furniture parallel to it. Otherwise, place the major pieces at 45-degree angles to the nearest walls -- in other words, straight across the corners. Visually separate the two sections of an L-shaped room with a decorative bi- or tri-fold screen. Place the partially folded screen near the inside corner of the "L" for a half-wall effect or stretch the sections out more to install a "wall" that closes off one side of the "L" from the other. In this case, place the screen in the centre of one "L" section or the other, leaving walkways around each end.

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About the Author

Daria Kelly Uhlig began writing professionally for websites in 2008. She is a licensed real-estate agent who specializes in resort real estate rentals in Ocean City, Md. Her real estate, business and finance articles have appeared on a number of sites, including Motley Fool, The Nest and more. Uhlig holds an associate degree in communications from Centenary College.