If you have a long, narrow living room, you know how tricky it can be to arrange furniture in a way that feels open and spacious instead of cramped. Unlike square rooms that easily accommodate sectionals and media consoles, skinny rectangular living rooms require some strategic furniture placement to balance out the proportions. Fortunately, with the right layout techniques and space-saving picks, you can give your rectangular living space a widening makeover.
Challenges of Furnishing a Skinny Rectangular Living Room
Rectangular living rooms that are long and narrow provide a unique set of furniture layout challenges. Here are some of the most common issues:
- Limited floor space makes arranging furniture tricky since you don’t have much wiggle room.
- The narrow room width increases the risk of clutter due to tight squeeze spots along the walls.
- Corners often end up underutilized and become dead space instead of focal points.
- Placing bulky furniture pieces flush against the short walls can make the room appear even narrower than it is.
The constrained dimensions limit your options but fortunately, there are solutions to make a slender rectangular living area feel more expansive and livable.
Furniture Placement Guidelines for Rectangular Living Rooms
Strategic furniture placement is key to ensuring your skinny rectangular living room doesn’t end up feeling like a bowling alley. Follow these basic guidelines when arranging seating, storage and other furnishings:
Utilize the Corners
Take advantage of the corners in your rectangular living room by placing furniture diagonally rather than flush against the walls. Put an accent chair, workspace, bookshelf or cabinet on an angle to open up floor space in the center of the room. You can also place floor lamps in corners to illuminate both walls at once. Using corners effectively helps prevent dead zones along the edges of a long, narrow room.
Float Shelving on Walls
Instead of bulky media consoles and cabinets occupying precious floor space, opt for floating shelves on the walls to hold decor, books and display items. Wall mounted shelves give a room an airy, minimalist aesthetic and the eye naturally follows the lines stretching horizontally, helping make space appear wider and longer. Mix shelves at staggered heights for the most visual interest.
Choose Leggy Furniture
Furnishings like sofas, chairs and tables that stand on legs have a lighter, airier appearance compared to solid, blocky pieces set directly on the floor. Leggy furniture also enables you to see under and around it, lending a more open feel. For a narrow living room, choose a sofa and accent chairs with exposed legs. Glass top coffee and side tables prevent heaviness too.
Clever Furniture Layout Ideas for Rectangular Living Rooms
Now that we’ve covered the basic guidelines, here are some furniture placement ideas to make the most of your rectangular living room’s long, lean footprint:
Place Sofa Along Narrow Wall
Arrange your main sofa with the back flush against one of the narrow end walls. This leaves plenty of walking room behind it and space to add a console table, floating shelves or cabinetry along the wall. An armless sofa or one with open arms works best for this layout.
Create Separate Zones
Divide your narrow rectangular living area into different functional zones such as a living room seating space and adjoining dining area. Use area rugs in coordinating colors to help define each zone while keeping an open floor plan. Floating shelves are ideal room dividers too.
Position Chaise Sectionals Strategically
A chaise sectional positioned properly can make great use of the longer walls in a rectangular room. Place it with the chaise end flush against the wall to act as a room anchor. This leaves the middle open and the focal point becomes the seating itself. A chaise lounge also provides decorative flair.
Place Central Furniture Pieces
Don’t be afraid to pull furniture away from the walls and arrange some anchoring pieces in the center of the room. Ottomans, round coffee tables or area rugs help draw focus to the middle, away from narrow side walls. Just be sure to leave adequate walkways on all sides.
Space-Saving Furniture Picks for Rectangular Living Rooms
From transforming coffee tables to wall-mounted TV units, these space-saving furniture pieces are perfect for making the most of your rectangular living room’s limited square footage.
Look for furniture that serves more than one purpose. Ottomans with hidden storage offer extra seating and stash spots. Nesting coffee tables give flexibility. A dining table that doubles as a work desk is ideal for small dining rooms attached to living areas. The key is choosing multifunctional pieces tailored to your lifestyle needs.
Compact Sectional Sofas
Modular sectional sofas come in many configurations to fit different room shapes. Look for more compact sectionals with chaise ends and corner components ideal for rectangular layouts. Many even include sleeper sofas for overnight guests. Just be sure to measure carefully so traffic flow isn’t blocked.
Mounting your TV on the wall eliminates the need for a bulky media console that can clutter up precious floor space. For a streamlined, modern look, pair a wall-mounted TV with a floating media shelf instead of a full entertainment center. This opens up the room while keeping components easily accessible.
Decor Tips to Visually Widen a Rectangular Living Room
Aside from furniture placement, there are decor tricks that can help balance out the proportions of a long, narrow living room:
- Layer rectangular area rugs in graduating sizes to give the illusion of width.
- Place tall floor lamps, tall plants or floor vases in the corners to lead the eye up and down.
- Hang mirrors on the long walls to reflect light and create depth.
- Add an eye-catching gallery wall, horizontally-oriented artwork or floating shelves along the longest wall to draw the focus across.
Keep decor minimal and clean-lined. Avoid clutter than can overwhelm narrow rooms. Let the beautiful bones and layout of the space shine through!
Arranging a long, lean living area comes with layout challenges but nothing that can’t be solved with the right space-saving furniture and a bit of decor trickery. Use multifunctional pieces strategically placed to utilize all the empty corners and vertical real estate. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try unique furniture configurations to prevent your room from feeling boxy and narrow. With an open floor plan and a few widened accents, your skinny rectangular living space can feel downright spacious and inviting.
1. Utilize Floating Shelves: Instead of bulky bookcases or cabinets, consider using floating shelves to display decorative items and store smaller items. This will help free up floor space and create a clean, minimalist look in your rectangular living room.
Floating shelves come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and styles to match any decor. Opt for wall-mounted shelves in lightweight materials like wood or metal. Stagger shelves at different heights for the most visual interest. Use them in place of bulky storage furniture that can clutter up a narrow space. Floating shelves add both function and style.
Display framed photos, potted plants, books and candles on floating shelves. Or keep remotes, coasters and other everyday items within reach but out of the way. Floating shelves along the length of a rectangular room also lead the eye horizontally, helping walls appear wider than they are.
2. Incorporate a Gallery Wall: If you have a long, blank wall in your rectangular living room, consider creating a gallery wall. This will help break up the space and add visual interest to the room. Hang a mix of art, photographs, and decorative items at varying heights to create a dynamic display.
Turn an empty wall into the focal point of your rectangular living room with a gallery wall display. Arrange and hang a collection of artwork, framed photos, mirrors or other decorative items to “fill” the wall with visual texture and color. Mix different sizes, shapes and orientations for lots of interest.
Hang the gallery in an asymmetric arrangement, with some pieces higher and lower than others. Leave an inch or two between each piece. The scattered layout draws the eye across the length of the wall, helping make the narrow room appear wider.
Choose signature pieces as anchors for the gallery wall, then fill in with smaller items. Make sure the color scheme and styles complement your overall living room decor. Wall decals, floating shelves and plants can add flair too.
3. Use Area Rugs: A large area rug can help anchor your furniture and define different zones in your rectangular living room. Choose a rug that complements the color scheme of your room and covers as much floor space as possible to make the room feel more spacious.
Area rugs visually widen rectangular living rooms in two ways. Their horizontal expanse helps make floors appear less narrow. Large rugs also define sitting areas and prevent furniture from looking oddly marooned.
Choose a rug at least big enough for front legs of primary furniture pieces to sit atop it. For small living rooms, one oversized area rug is best to maximize the illusion of width. Position it to run the length of the space.
For defining zones like living and dining spaces, use two coordinating rectangular rugs. Make sure there is adequate floor space between them for flow. Rugs with muted, neutral patterns and textures tend to work best in narrow rectangular rooms.
4. Install Curtains or Drapes: If your rectangular living room has large windows, consider installing curtains or drapes to help soften the space and add texture. Choose a lightweight fabric that will not overwhelm the room and opt for floor-length curtains to make the ceiling appear higher.
Window treatments like floor-length curtains or drapes add height, texture and a touch of softness to living rooms. They make architectural features like tall windows feel more cozy and well-balanced. For narrow rectangular rooms, curtain tips include:
- Pick lightweight, breezy fabrics. Avoid heavy materials that could overwhelm the space.
- Hang rods as close to the ceiling as possible for a floor-length effect.
- Choose neutral solids or simple patterns. Bold prints or dark colors can close off the room.
- Layer sheers behind heavier curtains to filter and diffuse light.
If your living room lacks windows, hang drapes around room entrances/exits to add dimensional interest and a touch of softness.
5. Add Pendant Lights: Draw the eye upward and elongate your rectangular living room by hanging pendant lights above furniture groupings. Opt for dual pendants to enhance the illusion of width in the space. Point them different directions for dimension.
Hanging pendant lights is an easy way to direct visual interest vertically in a rectangular living room, helping walls appear less flat and narrow. To widen things visually:
- Hang matching dual pendants like two mini chandeliers spaced evenly apart over a seating area or dining space.
- Choose directional pendant lights and point them different ways to add asymmetry and dimension.
- Hang pendants at varying heights for layered lighting over islands, seating areas or above the dining table.
The slender columns and dangling illumination of pendant lamps make ceilings feel taller. Just avoid massive chandeliers that could overwhelm a skinny room. For maximum impact, clean-lined pendants in finishes like brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze work well in modern to transitional spaces.
By following these furniture layout, decorating and lighting tips, you can give your long rectangular living room a widened, spacious makeover. Rethink bulky storage pieces, utilize corners and draw the eye up and across for a room that’s visually balanced and beautiful from every angle.