Rooms come in many different proportions. Small, tall, broad, narrow – you name it, I’ve styled it. I can appreciate oddly proportioned rooms (after all, weird is memorable right?), but I’ll be the first to admit that they often present some furnishing challenges. One of the most common problematic configurations that I come across in my profession, is the long, narrow living room.
Long, narrow living rooms are similar in many ways to open-concept floor plans. They can be bright, airy and very open. They also present many of the same decorating challenges: no walls or definition, resulting in what can be perceived as too much openness. Thus, I apply the same principles as I do in an open-concept home. Read on for the skinny on how to furnish a long, narrow living room.
1. Think function. Your long, narrow living room may be looking a bit like a hallway. Before you start randomly filling it with furniture, divvy up the space by activity: a sitting-conversation-reading zone, a relaxing-entertaining area and increasingly, a home office. Identify which furnishings you’ll need to accommodate said activities. Then, once you’ve placed your furniture, you can further define each “zone” with its own rug, lighting, artwork and a focal point, such as a piece of art. If the area is small, still include these elements if you can, only on a smaller scale.
2. Create an S curve. When planning your furniture groupings and traffic pathways, form an S shape, steering clear of the entrance and doorways. This furniture layout organically yet intentionally draws people into more of the room, versus along a linear floor plan that lumps all the furnishings (and thus, traffic) along one wall.
Rounded silhouettes and circular-shaped furnishings do well in an S floor plan, creating a more convincing curve than their squared-off counterparts. Circles also help to balance out the sharp, straight lines that are dominant within a very narrow space.
Furniture placement tips: The sofa should ideally go on the longest wall, opposite a television, fireplace or window and hopefully, and great view. Position furniture vignettes away from the wall to bring added depth to the space. At the far end of the room, a horizontal piece, such as a desk or console table will bring balance and symmetry.
3. Highlight the vertical. A long living area can be balanced by highlighting its vertical attributes. Pull the eye upward with tall furnishings like a bookcase (the added storage space is a bonus!), vertical artwork and floor-to-ceiling drapery. You can also create the illusion of more height and space by using light colours, mirrors and strategic lighting.
No decorating challenge is insurmountable, and you can always enlist a professional if you need some help. Remember, unusual measurements can make for some of the most memorable rooms. Work with what you have and embrace the features that make your space different. And always go out of your way to make your home uniquely “you.”
Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist, Red Barrinuevo is an Interior Decorator and Principal of Redesign4more, servicing clients in Toronto and the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through its creative home staging, interior styling services, and design services. www.redesign4more.com.