Decorating Dilemma: The Long + Narrow Room

Good Wednesday everyone! Those of you in the south, I hope you’re staying warm and safe. We got about 4 inches in Richmond. I’m thankful for my warm weather gear I invested in while living in Boston. Who knew they’d get so much use in Virginia!

OK back to decorating…

In addition to Friday Faves, I’m starting another new series called “Decorating Dilemmas”. In this series I’ll address common decorating dilemmas that we all face and providing solutions to these issues. Hopefully you’ll find this series helpful in decorating your own home.

First up is the long and narrow room. Maybe it’s a family room, a recently finished basement, or a combined living and dining area. Wherever it is in your home, these rooms can sometimes be hard to decorate because they’re usually overwhelming spaces. Below are some tips and tricks you can try to create the illusion of a not so long or narrow room.

1. Paint is your friend.

Avoid painting all walls a dark or bold color in a narrow room, it can close the room in even more. Go for more light and neutral tones to make the room appear wider.



2. Establish your focal point.

If you have a long room, try to make the wall furthest from you, when you enter the room, your focal point. A great trick is to paint that wall in a darker or bolder color than the rest of the walls. It brings the wall in and makes it appear closer to you. This look can also be achieved by creating a gallery wall, installing wall paper, or shelves on that wall.

Rectagle room Focal Point copy

3. Go easy on your windows.

Heavy, bold drapes will only close in a narrow room even more (unless it’s on your focal point wall). Lighter drapes, drapes in the same color as your walls, or no drapes at all will open up a narrow room. More light gives the illusion of more space.


Source Unknown (if you know please let me know!)

You CAN, however, use heavier, bolder drapes on windows on your focal wall. It has the same affect as paint in that it brings the wall closer to you like the below picture. You’ll notice the other windows are bare; heavy drapes on those windows would make the room appear narrow.


Photo by Micah Kandros. Design by Amy Jacobs

4. Use mirrors wisely.

Mirrors can help you and hurt you in these scenarios. If you put a mirror on the wall that is furthest away from you in a long room, it will only make the room seem longer. However, if you place a mirror on the narrow walls, it will make the room appear wider.

Rectagle room mirror

5. Group your furniture.

Furniture can often seem lost in large rooms, but not if you create furniture groupings. Breaking up a large room makes it feel cozier. The easiest way to do this is to define specific spaces by grouping furniture and using area rugs. If you have a large master bedroom, create one area for sleeping, and a separate seating area or defined dressing area. If you have a large basement area, define one area as a TV viewing area, and one area as a game area with a table, bookshelves for storage, etc.

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Contact me or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to address it in this series!

Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Kelley –

    When I click on Read More of this Post the page is not found. Thought I should let you know!

    Loved the post on your kitchen redo – kitchen looks amazing and I like your shelf idea for the future.

    I have 3 long and narrow rooms, so looking forward to seeing your advice!

    Love, nikii

  2. Hi Nikkii! Thanks for letting me know. When I initially published the post it was for some reason backdated and I had to change it. I guess that’s why it’s not showing up. Just go to the home page and it should be the first post you see. Sorry about that!

  3. Thanks for the great tips. The mirror idea is a great one and I really like mirrors! I love the idea of a focal point on one of the shortest walls and the one farthest from you, however, I have a built-in focal point (the fireplace with tv mounted over), in the middle of one of the long walls (and only wall that does not have openings or windows). This makes it challenging to “split the space into groups” with the focal point smack in the middle! With a 23 “x 13.5” space, 9′ entrance to the room right as you walk in the front door of the home, door sized entrance on the other end of that same wall and windows on each of the shorter walls (with an additional deck door on the farthest short wall) , I am at my wits end trying to figure out how to create cozy seating in such a long, narrow odd space! Would love to see a post about how to deal with spaces that have “built in” focal points in inconvenient places:)


    1. Hi Valerie- Thanks for the suggestion, I’m sure there are others in the same predicament so I’ll be sure to post one soon. Is it possible for you to mount your TV in a different location? Fireplaces are often obvious focal points but they don’t have to be.

      1. I will look forward to the post. I am guessing there are many in the same boat, especially with colonial style homes such as mine. I could potentially mount the TV on the same wall as the fireplace and build seating around that, but with the entrances at both ends of the opposite wall, it makes it tricky as furniture then blocks the entrances. We originally had the TV on the wall opposite the fireplace, but with the narrow width, this meant either a love seat or only chairs if we wanted to put seating perpendicular and then we still had seating smack in the middle of the room with unused space on either end. Plus, my husband likes having an actual couch:) We like to entertain and hope to accommodate a good number of people in the space. Perhaps we can create a separate seating are in front of the windows with chairs that could be moved into the main seating space if needed? And a perhaps a couple of chairs flanking the fireplace facing the couch. I was hoping for built in bookshelves at some point around the fireplace but am afraid that cuts floor space and makes the room even narrower. Ah the fun dilemmas of a colonial home:) Thanks again!

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