How to divide a long & narrow room into living & dining space

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The long, narrow reception room is a common feature of urban housing. It is a particular feature of traditional Victorian or Edwardian terraced houses, where once it was two small rooms. More recent occupants have "knocked through" the two rooms, creating more space but in an awkward shape.

There are a number of different ways in which you could divide this room up again into separate living and dining areas.

Five ways to divide up a long, narrow room

Use different floor coverings. Sand and varnish the floorboards in the dining area, or cover them with ceramic tiles or lino. These coverings are practical and easy to clean and clearly demarcate the dining area. Meanwhile, invest in a deep pile carpet for the living area. If you can't afford two separate floor coverings, differentiate the two areas by buying a large rug for the living space.

Create a divider. Move a sofa or an open bookcase into the middle of the room. It retains the overall feeling of space but creates two more manageable room shapes.

Create two focal points. Group sofas and chairs in the living room around a fireplace, for example. Pull furniture away from the walls -- if you line sofas up along the walls it only emphasises the bowling alley effect. In the dining area, appropriate focal points might be a dresser, a window, or even a sideboard with candles. Distract attention away from the shape of the room by buying a round dining table. If you have a rectangular one and don't want to replace it, place it at right angles across the room.

Paint colour blocks on the wall. This creates two distinct zones but the effect is more elegant than painting the whole wall in two different colours. Alternatively, you could use large pieces of artwork or mirrors to create the same effect

Use lighting to create two different moods. Fill the living area with low-level table lamps and downlighters with shades. In the dining area, you can use ceiling lights centred just above the dining table.