How to Furnish a Long, Narrow Living Room

Arranging furnishings in a long, narrow living room can be a bit challenging. You might need to juggle things around, such as putting overflow items into self storage or swapping standard furnishings for smaller ones, but those are just a couple of ideas. There are far more for you to consider below.

Create Zones

Divide the room into functional zones based on your needs. For example, you might have a seating area, an entertainment zone, and perhaps a reading nook. Try not to have all the seating running along one wall as that can make a lounge feel like a waiting room or a corridor. 

Placing a single chair so it sits at a right-angle to the sofa helps break up a long area along with making conversation easier. Another idea is to try turning an open bookcase so it’s perpendicular to the wall, creating a small but psychologically important barrier between zones. 

Open bookcases work well because you can see ornaments from both sides, and if you alternate the book spines you can read titles from both sides too. It can be a useful strategy if you want to create a computer corner, for instance.

Furniture Placement

Opt for furniture that suits the scale of the room. Consider using smaller, modular pieces that can be easily rearranged to accommodate different activities.

Place the main seating area in the middle of the room, leaving enough space behind for traffic flow if that’s possible. Pulling furniture away from the walls can help create a more open feel, but it’s not always possible. In a really narrow room where available floor space means it’s not possible to draw furnishings away from the wall, you may have to experiment with different angles to help interrupt the otherwise straight line of the furniture. Tall plants in strategic locations can help, as they introduce height and structure, breaking your line of sight down a long length of wall.

Use Multipurpose Furniture

Choose furnishings that serve more than one purpose. For example, a sofa with built-in storage or a coffee table with a shelf beneath or storage trunks and chests that also offer additional seating can maximise functionality without overcrowding the space.

Strategic Lighting

Adequate lighting is crucial in any room, but it becomes even more important in a long, narrow space. Use a combination of overhead lighting, floor lamps, and table lamps to evenly illuminate different areas and cast a cosy glow around the room. Floor lamps are especially good as they lend some vertical structure and interest along with your taller plants.

Vertical Storage

And speaking of vertical interest, use your wall space to minimise clutter on the floor. Wall-mounted shelves or tall bookcases can provide storage without taking up valuable floor space as well as adding balance to a room and deflecting attention from its length.

Optical Illusions

Mirrors can create an illusion of space and reflect light, making the room feel brighter and more open. Consider placing a large mirror on one of the walls to visually expand the space.

Area rugs can also create optical illusions of space or zones in a long, narrow room. You could use a bold colour to contrast neighbouring furnishings, or opt for matching and blending for a more subtle effect. Take care with busy patterns as they can overwhelm a narrow area.

Colour Scheme

Stick to a cohesive colour palette to create a sense of unity. Lighter tones can make the room feel more spacious, while darker colours can add warmth and cosiness. Consider using an accent wall to add interest without overwhelming the space.

Avoid Overcrowding

Be mindful of the number of furnishings you introduce to the room. A minimalist approach can help prevent the space from feeling cramped. Choose pieces that are essential and complement the overall design. If you’re struggling to fit all your existing furniture into a newly acquired narrow living room, consider storage unit rental while you work out what works best initially and to help manage storage for belongings in the future.

Flow of Traffic

Ensure there’s a clear path through the room. Avoid placing large furniture pieces in a way that obstructs the natural flow. This is especially important in a narrow space to prevent it from feeling claustrophobic.

While these ideas are just general guidelines, you can adapt them based on your personal style, preferences and situation. Factors that influence how you arrange your room include how many windows or doors, if there’s a fireplace or even how many people share the space. You’ll need to experiment with different arrangements until you find a layout that suits, but hopefully these tips give you a starting place.