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From Start To Furnish

Please enjoy my musings on all things interior design!

How To Arrange Furniture In A Narrow Living Room

If there's anything I know a ton about, it's how to arrange furniture in a narrow living room.  If you have a narrow living room, arranging the furniture into it to make a pleasant area can be a frustrating task.  It's challenging to place furnishings in a long narrow living room without creating a tunnel effect or feeling like you're living in a bowling alley (minus the sounds of the pins falling over). 

But never fear - I've arranged so many narrow living rooms I've lost count, and I can tell you how to do it.

Identify What Activities Are Going To Occur in Your Narrow Living Room

This is one of my projects in a 1940's home.  We divided into zones.  We floated the seating and used lots of circles on the dining table, mirror, and lampshades.  Also we widened the doorway going into the entry expanding the width of both rooms. 

The first step towards the process of arranging furniture in a problematic narrow living room is to identify what activities you need to plan for.  Are people going to be watching television, enjoying a warm fire, reading or playing board games? 

Also, you'll want to think about how many people are going to be engaging in these activities.  The goal is to break up the narrow living room into smaller spaces for each of those activities.  With careful planning, you can make a narrow living room into an aesthetically pleasing and practical place.

Draw Your Narrow Living Room

The next step is to draw the narrow living room to scale.  You'll need to take careful measurements and don't forget to note architectural features such as doors, windows, and fireplace.  Draw the narrow living room on graph paper for quicker work.  

Divide Your Narrow Living Room Into Zones

While studying your creation of the drawing of your narrow living room, consider where the activities that you identified in step one should occur.  If there's a fireplace and you've decided that there will be people just enjoying a warm fire on chilly days, that's a zone.  If television watching is one of the activities, you'll need to decide the optimal location for the television considering glare and area for seating for viewing.  If board games are an activity, you'll want to think where the best area is to locate a game table.  If this table might also be used for meals, maybe it should be located closer to the kitchen.  

The Ever-Important Traffic Zone.

You'll hear me mention traffic zones plenty of times.  That's because it's critical to creating a welcoming space.  You want to be sure people can move through the room and the zones without tripping over furniture, rugs or zigzagging through the room.  Make that passageway on one side of the room.  You want to allow about 3 feet clear passageway between doorways or through the room to other places in your home.  

Plan For The Furniture in Your Narrow Living Room

Now comes the fun part - planning for the furniture for this troublesome narrow living room! Begin sketching - to scale - the furniture pieces you'll need for each zone.  The main thing you want to avoid, and one that can be such a trap for a narrow living room, is to line up all of the furniture against the walls.  That will only add to the visual length of this room and won't get you to your goal of a pleasing room. 

The Right Sofa For Your Long Narrow Living Room

This small sectional with floating chair L is available through this affiliate link.

The "floating chaise" of this sectional helps visually divide this long narrow living room.

If it is at all possible, consider "floating" pieces.  That means putting the sofa across the room rather than against the wall.  The floating furniture pieces will help in dividing your zones. 

If it's just not possible to float the sofa, consider a small sectional.  That chaise or loveseat that makes the L of the sectional is the float that makes that division. 

Also, a pair of loveseats may be a better solution than a sofa.  They can float and provide the same amount or maybe even more seating than a traditional long sofa. 

Wherever you can plan for any piece of furniture that runs perpendicular to the room, add that piece.  It will help create the visual of a not so long narrow room. 


That's why all of this careful planning is so important.  You'll want to be sure that you've got the right sized pieces to furnish your narrow living room.  You just want to be certain you're allowing for traffic flow so that people are not walking through the middle of each zone.  Don't forget the traffic flow that we discussed in the last section.

And you'll want to be certain that you have enough seating in each zone for all of the number of people that will occupy each zone.  You don't need to plan for the maximum amount of seating as you won't need the maximum often.  Consider a cocktail ottoman for the television zone instead of the traditional coffee table.  It can provide extra seating when needed.  For your Super Bowl party, you may pull in those chairs around the game table into the television zone.  Or you can pull in a bench or stool from your fireplace.  It may not be the ideal everyday arrangement but at least you want to be certain there's room for them.

Angles Help Visually Break up a Long Narrow Living Room

If it works to place any pieces at an angle, that helps to divide your long narrow living room.  If one of your zones includes a desk, think about placing it at an angle facing the room.  Maybe you can float the sofa at an angle.  Maybe you can angle chairs for the seating in one zone.  

Circles Soften Your Long Narrow Living Room

A perfect lamp with angles and a round shade for a narrow living room available through this affiliate link.

There's so much right with the solutions for this room.  They've divided into zones.  The table going perpendicular to the room.  The round lampshades and art pieces.

Use round tables for eating, games or coffee tables.  Circles will help soften the bowling alley feel of a long narrow living room.  Use round lamp shades and circles in art.  

Area Rugs Help Divide Your Narrow Living Room

In this stage, you'll also want to plan for rugs for your narrow living room.  Several rugs in different sizes will also help to divide this room into the zones.  Plan a rug for under each seating area. You'll want rugs that are completely encompassing in each zone and also allow for easy traffic-flow (there's that pesky though all-important phrase again) through the room.   You want the rugs to warm the space but also not be a tripping hazard.  Also, consider layering rugs.



Now you've got the list of the pieces that you need to create this great space, but before you move on to shopping stop and think again.  If there's anything you can remove from the list, do so. 

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to cram too many pieces into your narrow living room.  Clutter will only add to the problems of furnishing this room.  You need to have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Don't forget versatility.  You don't have to plan for the Super Bowl for the everyday living when it only happens once a year.  

Go Shopping 

Now comes the fun part ( I said that already, right?).  Well, this is fun too.  With a detailed list of the pieces, you'll need to furnish your narrow living room including their dimensions you are ready to go shopping for them.  You've divided your narrow living room into zones, or kind or rooms within a room.  You'll want to be certain that the patterns and colors that you select for the furnishings within each zone coordinate with each other.  That will give your narrow living room the well-planned designer look that you've worked so hard to achieve.  

Select a wallcovering or paint color from the fabrics and rugs and get that work done while you're waiting for your furniture to be delivered.

Move In

Now, all that's left is to move those carefully planned for and selected furniture pieces into your narrow living room and enjoy.  If you need more help, be sure and contact me here.


Jill OrnelasAmbiance