Long living room ideas – 10 essential design rules for making a narrow space seem wider

We've put together 10 long living room ideas to help you make the most of your lounge

Long living room ideas
(Image credit: Rikki Snyder / Becca Interiors)

If you have or have ever had a narrow, long living room at home, then you’ll be more than aware of the tricky task of making it look wider than it actually is, while desperately trying to make every corner look cozy. You’ve probably spent hours rearranging furniture in a frenzied attempt to make your rectangular space look more square, but in the back of your mind you know that unless you knock down the walls and rebuild the room from scratch, there’s just nothing you can do. 

Never fear – with some clever tricks of the trade, there are in fact tons of ways to help turn that awkward living room layout into something stylish and sophisticated, so don’t give up just yet. Here’s how to turn a long living room into a space you will love for years to come. For more ingenious living room ideas, don't miss our dedicated feature.

1. Keep a long living room clutter free

Long living room ideas with open plan space and cream wall

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one thing that’s going to create the illusion of more space in a long living room, it’s decluttering – it can actually make a room feel wider in seconds. 

Make sure you keep your room tidy and organized by removing toys, plants, knickknacks and other unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel bigger and more pleasant to be in. Try and keep the floor as clear as possible, too, as it’s one of the easiest ways to maintain a sense of spaciousness, so remove any oversized rugs.

2. Use the right furniture for a narrow living room

Long living room ideas with neutral furniture and color palette

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar / Hoedemaker Pfeiffer)

Furniture in small living rooms can be a cumbersome business, especially in narrow living rooms so it pays to invest in the right furniture – and consider the arrangement carefully, as interior design firm Hoedemaker Pfeiffer have done in this small, narrow space. 

A great tip is to choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs, and a glass coffee table, both will keep the appearance of a much more open and free space, allowing light to filter under and around the furniture far easier.

3. Pull furniture away from the walls 

Long living room ideas with furniture away from walls

(Image credit: Future / Mel Yates)

Another important pointer is not to place large pieces of furniture against walls. And, just because a room is long, doesn’t mean you need to fill it all with furniture. Use the middle of the room center the furniture arrangement, leaving the sides as open, but not dead, space. 

See: Small living room ideas for apartments – enhance the feeling of space in a studio

4. Scale the furniture to fit a long living room

Long living room ideas with wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside )

Scale the furniture to fit the size of the room and don’t block walking pathways – oversized sofas or too much furniture will make the living room look smaller, while furniture and accessories blocking the view into a room will make the space look cramped – if you can see the floor, the room will look larger.

See: Living room seating ideas – the essential design rules for sofa and chair layouts and trends

5. Light up a narrow space

Long living room with neutral color palette

(Image credit: Rikki Snyder / Becca Interiors)

Light helps to brighten up a room instantly, so first and foremost allow any natural light to stream indoors by taking down heavy, dark window coverings. Try sheer window treatments or install white wooden blinds or shutters to let the natural light flow into your room during the day, while simultaneously providing nighttime privacy, like in this narrow space designed by Becca Interiors.

6. Use mirrors to reflect light

Long living room with mirrors

(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)

Not surprisingly, mirrors can make a long living room look a lot larger. Hang a large mirror on a wall opposite a window or very near one to reflect the outdoors, broadening the feel of your room. 

Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night and they bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger. Mirrors on the walls and glass tabletops will make it seem like there’s a more open flow. 

7. Use paint to visually enlarge a long, narrow room

Long living room ideas with blue paint shelving unit

(Image credit: Future / Richard Powers)

You can visually widen a rectangular-shaped living room by painting the two end walls a darker color than the other two walls. The gradation of shade and color of paint on opposing walls can either lengthen distance by using a lighter shade or shorten a distance with a darker shade. 

Light colors such as creamy white or light grey help to brighten a room, making it appear larger and wider. Satin paint finishes tend to reflect more light. 

8. Zone a long room with accessories

Long living room with cream interiors

(Image credit: Sarah Shields Photography / Whittney Parkinson Design)

Long living rooms rarely feel homely, but here Whittney Parkinson Design has used a few ingenious tricks to zone the space to make it feel far cozier. 

A rug can visually draw together the furniture in a space, giving a room focus and adding comfort. While a focal point that contrasts with the rest of the scheme can be visually interesting, disguising the awkward layout, something like quirky piece of art, vase or striking lampshade.

9. Hang pictures correctly

Long living room ideas with art and bookcase

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Walls that are covered with pictures and other wall hangings tend to make a room feel closed in or busy, so simply hang one or two large pieces of artwork on your walls to make the room feel wider and more spacious. 

Avoid hanging pictures high on the longer wall as they will just highlight the imbalance in the proportions, instead choose art that can sit wide but low over the sofa for example, to bring the eye level down and help make the room seem wider.

10. Unite two rooms

Long living room ideas with white walls and wooden furniture

(Image credit: Sarah Tramp / Ginny Macdonald Design)

If you’ve got a long living room that’s divided in two – like a living room one end and a dining room the other – it might be worth picking a couple of your favorite colors and using them as key tones to coordinate the one space, as interior designer Ginny Macdonald has done here.

Plus, try and turn your sofa so it goes against the length of the room, to help break it up – you don’t want the line of your sofa running into your dining table, too.

How do you arrange furniture in a long living room?

If possible, try to avoid arranging all your furniture on one side of the long living room wall. By alternating furniture groupings – or by utilizing the middle of the room better – it will effectively force the traffic flow to take on an 'S' shape, and stops the space looking too straight and narrow, much like a hallway.

How do you utilize a long living room?

Select furniture pieces that are in proportion to the size of your room – oversized cabinets, sofas and chairs can make a small room feel narrow. Furniture that is the same color as your walls tends to blend into the wall, making it look wider and make sure you arrange your furniture at an angle to create a sense of depth to the room, otherwise if you place all furniture against the walls you might end up with a narrow 'bowling alley' look.

What's more, as long as your ceiling is painted in a paler color than your walls, no matter what the color, your ceilings will feel higher, helping a narrow living room feel more spacious