Reader SOS – Long & Narrow Living Room Layout
I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for this series is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.
Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…
- Budget Powder Room
- Scandinavian Mudroom Design
- Bedroom & Office Combo Space
- Attic Turned Speakeasy
- Living Room Turned Home Office
- Shared Kids’ Bedroom
- Reader SOS – Where Are They Now?
How Do I Layout My Long & Narrow Living Room?
I must say, 90% of the submissions I receive from readers revolve around living room layouts. It can be tough to figure out how to maximize the space in this frequently used room. Where do you put the TV? How many seating areas should you have? Today’s design dilemma comes from Hanna who is struggling with this exact problem. She has a long and narrow living room and needs some new furniture for the space. But what to get and where to put everything? Let’s see her submission…
Hanna’s Design Dilemma
I have a wonderful family room and I really do not know how I want to place furniture or what to put on my giant, blank walls. This room has been about function over form for us, but now we are ready to purchase some new furniture and make the most of this space.
The real trouble I’m having is finding artwork for the walls that aren’t mass-produced and tacky, but are also large enough for the massive walls. The other trick is having some sort of functional storage space for the internet and TV electronics on the right side of the fireplace.
Other information Hanna included…
- Wants hidden toy storage
- Home style is modern but lived-in
- Likes a color palette of blues, grays, and greens and light wood tones
- All furniture in the space could be repurposed and used in the basement, so she has a generous budget to buy new pieces
Narrow Living Room Layout: Two Options
I stared at this room for far too long, dreaming up the various layouts for the couch and seating in the space. In the end, I came up with two different options for Hanna and her family, depending on where she wanted to put the TV. (And since I know someone will ask, I use the free program from floorplanner.com to make these.)
Option 1: Keep the TV over the fireplace and incorporate two couches into the space.
Option 2: Move the TV to the side wall and add a couch and chairs.
I know people have strong opinions on television placement (just look at the strong feelings about the one in our bedroom), so I wanted to provide two various options for Hanna. Before we get to the living room layouts, here are a few things I would do, regardless of which option she chooses.
Other Living Room Changes
In taking an overall look at the space, I’d recommend a few things…
- Remove the curtains over the small windows near the fireplace. I think they distract from the fireplace as a pretty focal point. If window treatments are needed for light/privacy reasons, I’d go for a Roman or bamboo shade.
- Add at least one floor lamp and one or two table lamps to the room for additional cozy lighting.
- Place an 8×10 area rug over the carpet to ground the space and add come color/texture/pattern. I like this one to complement their cool color palette.
Layout Option 1: Keep TV Over the Fireplace
Let’s start with keeping the television where it is over the fireplace. Obviously, I’m a big fan of the Frame TV – we have a few in our house – and I love that this TV looks like art over their fireplace. Heck yes! The family might want to be able to see the TV from their kitchen, so I could see why leaving it over the fireplace has its perks.
The way the room was set up before, with the sectional in the middle of the room, the space to the kitchen and the rest of the home was closed off. I think it would be wise to open things up a bit, especially so Hanna and her family are not staring at the back of the sofa.
Here’s the layout of my friend, and former blogging buddy, Bridget’s, living room. You can tour her entire home here. She too has a long and narrow living room space and she went for two couches facing each other, with the TV over the fireplace.
As for the sofas, make sure you go with two different ones! I always like the look of a leather sofa and then a fabric sofa. I also think it looks nice when they have different leg profiles – one with higher legs and the other closer to the ground.
Ideally, you want to leave about 16-18″ in between the sofas and the coffee table, so Hanna would need to go with a smaller-scale coffee table of about 29″ or less. I really like the look of this oval one and it’s a good size at 26″ wide. I also like how Bridget has an additional lounge chair in the back of the room to take up some of that space. Hanna could definitely do something similar with a faux Eames chair.
Hanna also mentioned that she needed a solution to hide the cable box and cords from the TV over the fireplace. I found this tutorial that showcases how to add an AV back box behind the actual TV to house these components. It could be a good idea to keep things neat and streamlined, while keeping the Frame TV flat against the wall.
Layout Option 2: Move TV To the Side Wall
Okay, here’s my second narrow living room layout idea. We move the TV over a console (which is where we’d hide the TV components) on the right side wall. Across from it, we place a couch, a coffee table, and then two cozy chairs. For the seating, I like to use swivel chairs in a situation like this so it is possible to watch TV or turn around and see the play area or kitchen. This navy velvet chair is really pretty!
In our living room, we have our TV over a long console and it makes for amazing toy storage for the kids. Hanna could put a long piece along the wall with their Frame TV hanging over it.
With the television moved, you could then go for decor over the fireplace. This blog post walks you through my best tips to decorate a fireplace mantel. I like the idea of a large mirror (like in our old condo) or a clock and frames like my mom has in her space.
Stylish Toy Storage
Once Hanna decides on her layout, I would then add some storage to the wall on the left when you walk into the space. She mentioned that her daughter likes to play in the area and they wanted some space to hide a few toys. I would go for this storage piece directly opposite the windows. On top, she could style it with a table lamp and perhaps a large mirror to bounce the light from the window.
With both layout options, there is still some floor space for playing, in between the kitchen and the couch area, so having easy access to the toys would be ideal for the entire family!
Large-Scale Wall Art Ideas
Now, onto Hanna’s final pressing question. “What the heck do I put on the walls?” Here are a few ideas for you…
In my brother’s living room, he and his wife have a large art piece over their sectional. It fits the space nicely, taking up around 2/3 the space above the sofa. They bought this at Horchow, where you can find a lot of good pieces.
Hanna also could give some abstract art a go, as I did in Ellis’ nursery. I have zero artistic talent and this didn’t turn out half bad, so I think she could do it! You can find some large (and generic) art at HomeGoods or Target and repurpose the canvas.
Juniper Print Shop also sells large pieces that you can then frame yourself. Be sure to read my blog post all about choosing art with the correct scale before buying.
A picture ledge is also a fun idea if you want to showcase various frames and have the ability to swap things out regularly. Here’s a tutorial to build one.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with a gallery wall or a large grouping of frames.
The Design Plan
I think I was able to hit all that was on Hanna’s wishlist. What do you think?
8×10 Rug (sky/beige color) // Leather Sofa // Gray Sofa // Coffee Table // Velvet Chair // Storage Piece // Gold Mirror // Black Table Lamp // Landscape Art // Seagrass Baskets // Floor Lamp // Maple Tree // Blue Pillow // Lumbar Pillow
Hanna, keep us updated on your living room progress! I am so excited for you to bring this space together for your family.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.