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How to style your long, narrow living room

Not every home comes with a perfectly square living room, and it’s a fact that rectangular shaped rooms (especially those that are particularly long and narrow) are harder to decorate. In this article we’ll give a series of design tricks for decorating a room of this shape.
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How to style your long, narrow living room

From optical illusions to clever furniture placement, there are plenty of ways to work with a long, narrow living room.

Designing a long, narrow room is hard. Particularly a living room, where we tend to want to gather round a specific focal point (the TV), or feel comfortable when entertaining (hello, can you hear me down there at the other end of the room?!).

Anyone who’s tried it knows how easy it is to end up in ‘art gallery’ or, (much, much) worse, ‘bowling alley’ territory.

No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to shake off that half-finished vibe, leading to a lounge that feels more like a train waiting room than an integral and comfy part of our home.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, there are tons of tips and tricks that will not only make your living room work better from a practical point of view, but will create the illusion of ‘squareness’ too. So without further ado…

1. Divide the space

The number one rookie error of trying to ‘make the most of the space’ in a narrow living room is to, well, try to make the most of the space in it. The tendency is to overthink this element and line each wall with as much furniture as possible… so what if your guests have to shout down the room to each other – the only space you’ve got is long and narrow, so that means your sofas will just have to be an unnatural distance apart, right?


You’ll get far more use out of your living room if you’re prepared to divide the space up into ‘zones’. It might be that the actual living room part ends up becoming smaller, but it’ll look ten times better and will feel more comfortable too. Square off the actual ‘lounge’ bit using sofas to define the space, and use the other end of the room for something else, such as a stylish side table, or a cool, retro gin bar (totally back ‘in’ now, by the way).

And you don’t just have to go for a standard divide down the middle of the room, either. You could position your main seating in a square-ish shape in the centre of the room, and decorate the two ends of the room wisely to create a space that feels wholly used despite the fact the main stuff is in the middle.

2. Make use of vertical space

Create a feeling of depth in the room by drawing the eye upward, as well as outward. It might be with an impressive lighting feature in the middle of the ceiling, or a set of statement floor lamps that reach up high. Whatever method you opt for, it’s all about making sure there’s weight distributed properly throughout the room to create a feeling of evenness, and detracting from its narrowness by maximising ‘upward’ space too.

3. Use an L-shaped or corner sofa

L-shaped and corner sofas are perfect for narrow rooms for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, they tend to come in a long shape that complements narrower spaces (particularly L shaped sofas). Secondly, you can generally get away with having just the one sofa; they’re usually big enough to accommodate plenty of people, and their corner shape means they don’t look odd as a standalone piece (compared to an average three-seater, which really needs at least one other perpendicular sofa to work visually).

They’re also great for acting as that aforementioned room divider. Using the angle of the sofa to separate the room is a great way to discretely create different ‘zones’ without eating up space or creating a feeling that’s too closed off. If you entertain guests regularly you could even explore the world of corner sofa beds, which would turn your long, narrow living room into a makeshift guest room, too! We love this Monterey Pillow Back Fabric Corner Sofa Bed in chic, neutral grey for a sofa that’s comfy, practical and incredibly stylish.

4. Embrace optical elusions

The difference décor can make to the overall appearance of a room – in particular its perceived shape and size – is immense. So it is possible to stop your lounge from looking long, thin and claustrophobic, and to turn it into a space that feels much more square and open when you put your mind to it. To do this, get clever with optical illusions. For example, placing a large striped rug in the centre of the room, with the stripes running horizontally (against the ‘long’ direction of the room), can really draw the eye away from the fact the space is rectangular. You could even go one step further and give your entire floor a revamp with horizontally placed wooden floorboards.

Another way to create the illusion of a more evenly shaped room is to make a statement at either end of it. By ‘filling the ends up’, so to speak, with impressive pieces of artwork, eye-catching display cabinets or striking seating arrangements, you’ll bring the room to life anddistract admiring guests from the fact the space is long and narrow.

So there you have it. If you’ve got a long, narrow living room, there’s really no need to despair. Sure, it might take a little bit more thought and a few clever ideas to get it looking just how you want it – but then it wouldn’t be proper interior design without a challenge, would it?


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