Positioned away from walls, furniture clusters lead the eye down the trajectory of a narrow, rectangular living room.

How to Decorate a Narrow Rectangular Living Room

by Anya Deason

A narrow, rectangular living room is effectively divided by clustered furniture arrangements and picture groupings, and the length also gives your kids ample space to gain momentum when running, which is another story. The room's length is bridged by linking its segments with larger, colorful accent items of similar dimensions. If your busy life leads you to crave the calming effect of a spacious, light sanctuary, your narrow living room can be widened by strategic use of tone; along with darker accent items, the tonal variations in the backdrop keep the eye moving through the narrow room's length.

Furniture Clusters as Room Dividers

Divide the length of a narrow, rectangular living room by clustering furniture in discrete groups, a concept akin to the English drawing room approach, where furniture is arranged in intimate clusters to encourage conversations with visitors. A square coffee table between two small settees is followed by a vertically positioned rug, leading the eye to a second furniture cluster at the room's end, where a sofa faces a fireplace. Flank the fireplace with two wingback chairs, supplying one with a floor lamp, which will be useful if you ever find time to relax with a good book.

Pictures as Space Dividers

Another method for condensing a long living room into more manageable visual units is by pictures, which align with the clustered furniture groups to create segmented enclaves for varied family activities. At the room's front, a glass-top pedestal table with a pewter base coordinates with pewter-framed pictures of your kids, hung in triadic groupings on the table's opposing walls. At the room's center, two long, horizontal pictures on either side of a long, glass-top coffee table propel the eye forward to another furniture cluster, which is centered in front of built-in bookshelves at the end of the room.

Transitional Benches or Ottomans

Long benches make good transitional elements in a narrow, rectangular living room, and if your kids lose a toy, it's easy to find, unlike toys lost under sofas. Position two long, armless benches with yellow-ochre upholstery on both sides of the wall, which draws attention to a square, yellow-ochre ottoman in front of an entertainment center at the end of the room. Strong -- yet nondominating -- colors such as yellow ochre provide good choices for accent pieces that keep the eye moving, and a square coffee table at the room's center also links the room's segments by restating the ottoman's shape.

Embrace the Space

When juggling work and family, a spacious, calm room is a treasure. Consider Swedish whitewashed flooring to play up your narrow, rectangular living room's spaciousness. The texture of whitewashed flooring reduces the feeling of empty space without sacrificing the overall sense of spaciousness, and light, textured walls also make your narrow living room appear wider. Running down both walls, high, white shelves lined with dark accent items draw the eye forward, as do patterned oriental rugs, which are also dark enough to conceal evidence of spilled juice on the floors of your living room sanctuary.

About the Author

Based in Franklin, Tenn., Anya Deason has more than 15 years of decor-related experience, assisting leading interior designers and owning a custom frame shop. While working at Lyzon Gallery in 1999, she wrote descriptions of artwork for Sotheby's online auctions. Deason holds a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.

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