Working With: A Long, Narrow Living Room


If you are the one struggling with how to arrange a long, narrow living room, you may know it better as “the bowling alley.”  When we were looking at houses several years ago, we kept seeing these long, open spaces, and inevitably, the furniture would be pushed up against the walls, making it look, well, even longer—and not very cozy.  (Of course, I would start  mentally rearranging their seating.  Because that’s how my mind works.)


narrow living room via Style at Home

Style at Home

These long living rooms can actually present lots of opportunity, if arranged the right way.  Here are a few ideas that might help: 

Divide and conquer.  The best way to deal with long spaces is to divide them up into separate “areas.”  That being said, I think it’s important to consider how you’ll actually use the room.  Two separate seating areas with sofas back to back might not make as much sense for your family as one seating area and a big game table behind that, for example. 

long living room with two seating areas

Another idea is to create a work space behind your sofa by using a desk and chair instead of a regular sofa table.

desk behind sofa furniture arrangement

Float your furniture.  Sometimes, “breaking up”  a long space can be as easy as floating your sofa (or a pair of chairs, or a bench. . .) out in the middle of the room.  I’ve heard people say that they think this will “cut off the room” but it actually creates a cozier seating area.  And truth be told, you probably don’t need as much space between your furniture for a walk-through as you might think.  (Our living room isn’t huge, and we only have about 16 inches between our chairs and the sofa, which still works fine for our busy bunch.)

sofa and chairs via emilyaclark.com

Moving an outlet (or two) might be worth the investment.  I hate when people feel trapped in their furniture arrangement because of the TV.  While moving a cable (or electrical outlet) might not be the easiest thing to do, if it helps you to live better in your space, I think it’s worth the investment (and little headache) in the long run.

furniture arrangement in narrow living room

Use artwork and rugs to help define separate areas.  What’s on your walls and floor can also help to break up a long room.  Hang art in an arrangement to define a seating area, and add a large mirror above a console to define another space. . . Nothing has to be centered on a long wall.  And, for the record, I don’t think there are rules on using the same two rugs in a space.  The photo below is a good example of how you can mix it up and it still all work.

long living room

And, now for a a real life example. . . What if your room is mostly narrow and not all that long, making furniture arrangement even trickier?  My blogger friend, Kristin, mentioned in one of her recent posts that she had a room like this.  So, I, of course, emailed her and asked for pictures of how she set up the space.  She replied with photos and a floor plan.  Perfect.

narrow living room floor plan

I like that although space is limited, she still found a way to create separate “areas” in a smaller living room.  She ultimately found a way to include an “entry” (by framing that part of the wall—so smart!), a seating area, a TV wall and a small desk area for her daughter.  Here’s a 360 degree tour of the room:

living room small entry via The Hunted Interior

Narrow living room via the Hunted Interior

TV wall via the Hunted Interior

I hope this has started your wheels turning if you’re struggling with how to make a long room work.  Do you have any other tips or tricks for how you’ve arranged a similar space?


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