I’ve recently had two interior design clients coming to me with the same dilemma. What to do with their long and narrow living room? Is this something you struggle with? I wanted to share my suggestions and why I love a four chair seating group.
My first example are long-time clients who are early retirees. Their house is a center entrance Colonial with front to back long and narrow living room. Four years ago they redid their kitchen and added a large sunroom onto to the back of their house. They have plenty of entertaining space and sofas for casual get togethers and tv watching. Their living room has in the past been used as a formal living room and also as a formal dining room space. Neither of which they really need anymore. Sometimes, we have in our heads how things “should” be. Despite having a large dining and seating area in their new beautiful sunroom, they imagined this space to be updated but still used as it had been used for year. I had to ask – did this make sense for them? In face, they also considered turning it into a master bedroom so they can have one-level living. This would mean a major renovation of their downstairs bathroom to have a shower area however. This may still happen down the road but it’s not something they need at present.
As you will see, the room is constrained by two doors, which swing in, and a fireplace that’s not centered between the doors. We re-imagined this space as a ladies lounge (it was already painted a lovely shade of pink). They needed to keep the china hutch for storage purposes and hoped to keep a pair of vintage pie-shaped side tables as they’d been her mothers. Otherwise, she wanted to clean all the rest out and feel like the room was serene and basically nearly empty. Which is unusual these days, but having breathing room is relaxing.
They have a pretty yard with lots of trees and good privacy. Once she removed the old fusty window treatments, she loved the open windows.
The doors swing into the room, which created a layout challenge in this long and narrow living room. The first door in the image below is nearly opposite the fireplace which made centering the seating area in front of the fireplace tricky. Selecting the right size chairs was very important. The rug, just at the seating area creates a nice “zone” for the space.
When having a large party, this more intimate space on the opposite side of the house will provide a nice cozy area for quiet conversation. How lovely is it at a party when you can find a cozy spot to chat with an old friend – or new! – away from the crowd. This project was done using my custom-bespoke design service level.
This next project, which was done under my QuickQ service level had a very narrow focus – what to do with the long and narrow living room? This family, also in a center entrance Colonial style house, still has children at home and space needs are very much family focused with some entertaining requirements as well. This is a room that’s rarely used in the warm months, but becomes a gathering area in the winter for game playing and hanging by the fireplace. This room is somewhat larger than my first example and there are no doors swinging into the space, getting in the way of things. It also means the living room is more integrated with the rest of the house.
Must keeps in this space were a beautiful antique sideboard and lovely large area rug. Their current space had a sofa to the left of the fireplace with the sideboard placed behind the sofa. There are only two walls the sideboard could be placed on – those flanking the right hand doorway into the space. Another challenge in the space is lighting – it wasn’t sufficient. The sideboard placed in the middle of the room behind the sofa meant no lamps could be placed on it.
When I initially asked about a seating group around the fireplace, my client didn’t love the idea because her husband enjoys a nice lie down by the fire. Who doesn’t on a blustery winters day in New England? She also said she wanted to be able to enjoy the fireplace from the kitchen and family room area, which can be seen from the right hand door opening.
I played around with placement of sofas and sectionals in the space, but it just didn’t work well in a long and narrow living room. It always felt cramped and made navigating the space awkward.
These clients have a lovely bay view off the back of the house so placing a sofa in front of the windows didn’t make a lot of sense. So, I decided to suggest a nice long chaise (he’s tall) under the window so both the fireplace and views could be enjoyed. The chairs would be swivel for flexibility as well.
I think the important thing to keep in mind with a long and narrow living room is to create zones that can feel both separate as well as be a comfortable part of the whole space. With this layout, my clients can have family game time, napping time and have plenty of seating for entertaining.
This project was done via my QuickQ Interior Design Consultation offering. The narrow focus was on the long and narrow living room layout, keeping the sideboard and rug, and enhancing the lighting. Specific furnishings, fabrics and accessories are left to the client to source. If you have a targeted dilemma but otherwise like to do it yourself, this is the plan for you!
You may also enjoy: What to do with Awkward Living Rooms?
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