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

10 clever long living room ideas to help make the most of your narrow lounge

Long living room ideas featuring a blue sofa, wooden fireplace and jute rug.
(Image credit: Rikki Snyder / Becca Interiors)

These long living room ideas will help you turn a narrow living room into a space you will love for years to come. 

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 little you can do. 

Never fear – with some clever small living room ideas and tricks of the trade, there are in fact tons of ways to help turn that awkward living room layout into something stylish and sophisticated. 

1. Keep a long living room clutter free

Long living room ideas with open plan space, blue velvet seating 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 using clever small living room storage ideas to remove toys, plants, knickknacks and other unnecessary items, and your space will instantly feel bigger and more pleasant to be in. 

2. Use the right furniture for a narrow living room

A narrow living room with neutral furniture and color palette.

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar / Hoedemaker Pfeiffer)

Furniture in long living rooms can be a cumbersome business, so it pays to invest in the right pieces – 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 more easily.

3. Pull furniture away from the walls 

Long living room idea with blue patterned wallpaper and 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 to center the furniture arrangement, leaving the sides as open, but not dead, space. 

4. Scale the furniture to fit a long living room

A green patterned sofa in a long living room with wooden herringbone flooring.

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Scale the furniture to fit the size of the room and don’t block walking pathways. Pick the perfect couch for a small living room by avoiding oversized sofas, or too much furniture that will make the living room look smaller. 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.

5. Light up a narrow space

A narrow living room idea with a neutral color palette, jute rug, blue sofa and wooden fireplace.

(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. If looking for apartment living room ideas, 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

Two mirrors either side of a fireplace with colorful artwork and cream rug.

(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)

Not surprisingly, decorating with 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

A blue painted shelving unit and cream sofa illustrating long living room ideas.

(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. 

8. Zone a long room with accessories

A long living room with cream sofas and rug and large windows.

(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. 

Decorating small spaces with a rug can visually draw together the furniture, giving rooms 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

A long living room ideas with art above a fireplace, built in alcove bookcases and large grey rug.

(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 to make the room feel wider and more spacious. 

Choose art that can sit wide but low over the sofa or fireplace 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: Sara 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. 

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 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 light and airy.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.