7 narrow living room ideas – how to turn an awkwardly shaped space into a dreamy lounge

How to best style a narrow living room and make tricky layout look balanced

A narrow living room with a window decorated with cream curtains and a small sofa with a coffee table in front of it
(Image credit: Future PLC/Davide Lovatti)

If you, like myself, are cursed with a narrow living room and struggle with decorating it, just know you’re not alone. But also, know that there are many things you can do and narrow living room ideas you can incorporate to visually widen the space, make it look more balanced and cosy.

Similarly to small living room ideas, when it comes to narrow living spaces it’s all about being smart with what you put in the room, how you style it and also how you paint – as all of these can either optically widen and enlarge the space or do the exact opposite, making your narrow lounge appear even longer than it already is. And obviously, we don’t want that. And neither do you. So this what you can do instead to make your narrow living room the best it possibly can.

Blue-painted living room with built-in shelves in an alcove and a round mirror above the fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

Narrow living room ideas

Long and narrow living rooms might not be the easiest to style and decorate but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a stylish and balanced space with a few tricks, especially when they come recommended by interior designers.

1. Paint the walls a light colour

A white living room with a light grey corner sofa and fireplace matching the colour of the walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

We know that light colours visually expand things and spaces. So avoiding dark shades in favour of brighter ones on your living room walls is the best paint idea for narrow spaces.

‘Light colours such as whites, creams, and light blues and greens reflect more light and create the illusion of a larger space,’ says Tara Rodrigues, interior designer of Tara Rodrigues Interiors. ‘Dark colours are perfect for creating a moody, sumptuous space but they do make the room feel more enclosed.’

And consider colour-drenching in your selected light shade too. ‘Using a monochromatic scheme (one colour) works well – wrapping the colour from wall to ceiling visually expands the space,’ Tara adds.

2. Draw the eye upward

A living room with a corner sofa and tall built-in bookshelves behind it

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One strategy you can use is to distract from the narrow layout of the room by shifting the focus to the height of the space. In other words, use the often under-utilised vertical space in your favour.

‘Utilise vertical space with tall shelves and curtains that go from ceiling to floor,’ says Alexia Hall, interior designer at Dendo Design. ‘This draws the eye upwards and creates a sense of height.’

Tara also recommends ‘incorporating tall bookcases and using floor to ceiling curtains to draw the eye upward, making the ceiling feel taller and the room more spacious. Keep the styling quite simple and uncluttered, using too many accessories can make the room feel crowded.’

3. Choose the right furniture pieces

A white living room with wooden shelves and a floating cabinet built into an alcove

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

Usually, a narrow living room is just a very particular shape of a small living room. And how you arrange furniture in a small living room and what pieces you incorporate into the layout can either make the space appear bigger or make it look cramped and cluttered. And the same goes for a narrow living space.

‘Choose furniture that fits the scale of the room. Avoid oversized pieces that can overwhelm the space,’ Alexia warns. ‘Opt for furniture that serves multiple purposes, like a coffee table with storage or a sofa bed. And consider wall-mounted shelves and cabinets to free up floor space.’

Tara continues, ‘Choosing furniture on legs makes the room feel more spacious by increasing the amount of visible floor space.’

4. Avoid symmetrical arrangements

A living room with white walls and built-in charcoal grey storage with a matching sofa and a Berber-style rug on the floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Avoiding symmetrical furniture arrangements in a narrow living room might sound counterintuitive but it’s effective nonetheless.

‘I would avoid a symmetrical arrangement in a narrow living room as it draws attention to the size of the room and in order to create the illusion of height, it's better to play with varying heights and layers in the room,’ Tara explains.

5. Mount the TV onto a wall

A tidy neutral-coloured living room with a TV on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Mounting your screen onto a wall is one of the best small living room TV ideas as it frees up precious floor space and draws the eyes up again. And it works even better in a narrow living room.

‘A wall-mounted TV placed on the longest wall will save floor space and avoid cluttering the walkways. If the room has a fireplace, placing the TV above it, is a good use of space or creating a slim fitted media unit to house the TV would also achieve the same streamlined look,’ Tara advises.

6. Use strategically placed mirrors

A grey living room with a pink chest of drawers, a wishbone chair and a mirror hung on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Placing a mirror on one (or both) of the longer walls of a narrow living room is one of the best ways to make a small living room look bigger with mirrors.

‘You can utilise strategic mirror placement – place mirrors on one of the longer walls to create the illusion of more space,’ Alexa recommends.

7. Create a feature wall

A living room with wood-panelled walls and one feature wall painted in navy blue contrasting the other white walls

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A living room feature wall idea is not only a lovely way to create a decorative statement in your space. It can also be used strategically in a narrow space to make it seem shorter and therefore more balanced and wider at the same time.

‘If you want to add some depth, consider a darker colour on one of the shorter walls to create a focal point and visually shorten the room,’ Alexa explains.

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How to make a long, narrow living room cosy?

There are several ways in which you can turn a narrow space into a cosy living room idea, whether that’s through textures or lighting.

‘Soft, warm lighting can make the room feel inviting,’ says Alexia Hall, interior designer at Dendo Design. ‘Use table lamps and floor lamps rather than harsh overhead lighting. Incorporate various textures through throws, cushions, and fabrics to add warmth and depth.’

Tara Rodrigues, interior designer of Tara Rodrigues Interiors, continues, ‘Creating distinct zones within the room, such as a cosy seating area, a reading nook, or a small workspace, using area rugs and wall coverings to help define these zones. Use furniture with rounded edges and organic shapes to soften the look of the room and make it feel more inviting and cosy.’

What’s the best style of sofa for a narrow living room?

Just like when it comes to sofa ideas for small living rooms, narrow spaces too benefit from particular styles of seating over others. And something you definitely need to avoid are bulky sofa designs.

‘Sectional Sofas, L-shaped or modular sectionals can work well if they are proportionate to the room's size and placed against the wall to save space,’ says Tara Rodrigues, interior designer of Tara Rodrigues Interiors. ‘My first choice is a slim sofa with a low back or an armless sofa to create an open feel and take up less visual space.’

As you can (hopefully) see, having a narrow living room is not the end of the world just as long as your decorating choices are carefully thought out and considered.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.