Decorating Long, Narrow Spaces

Q. Hi Jordan!

I recently moved and am in the process of decorating my new space entirely. My living room is proving to be the most challenging because it’s large and narrow. Do you have any tips for making spaces like this cozy yet simple?

Here’s the couch (and chair/ottoman) I purchased for the space:

I’m trying to blend my French country style with my boyfriend’s very modern, contemporary style. We’ve agreed on one thing – the couch!

Thanks for any tips you can offer and CONGRATS on the baby news!


A. Hey Natasha!

Actually, our place presents similar problems: it’s pretty big (well, for New York), but since it’s a railroad it’s composed of several long, narrow rooms. With a living room like this, it’s tough to get very creative with furniture arrangements, since there’s really only one that makes sense:

Basically, the couch facing the TV table with a coffee table in between, a chair angled off to one side, and maybe a plant, standing lamp, or small decorative table on the opposite side of the TV table (optional). Depending on the amount of space you have, you could add one more seat – I’d go with a floor pillow, wicker floor stool, or one of those little seating poufs pulled up to the side of the coffee table that doesn’t house the chair. And if the room is wide enough, you may want to pull the furniture a couple of inches away from the walls to create a sense of movement.

For decor, the goal is to open up the space and make it feel less narrow, which means breaking it up.

Some ideas:

– Try adding a rug in a bold color (or at least one that has a distinct border or doesn’t match the floor). For a classic look, go for a large rectangle that mirrors the shape of the room (as pictured above).

– Mirrors! Try either one large mirror in a gorgeous frame above the couch, or a selection of smaller mirrors in mismatched shapes and frames grouped on one wall.

– Either paint or wallpaper one wall (we wallpapered the wall behind our TV because we wanted to draw focus to its pretty curved shape, but traditionally you’d accent the wall behind the couch).

– Consider adding a dramatic light fixture to draw focus towards the center of the room.

Now, let’s talk how to blend your styles. First of all, great pick on the couch! It’s modern and contemporary, in keeping with your boyfriend’s taste, but will easily lend itself to a little French Country-style infusion.

The keys to achieving a French Country look are comfort, luxurious fabrics, and an indoor/outdoor feel (definitely add plants and lots of throw pillows and blankets for texture). I’d concentrate on creams and blues with splashes of lemon yellow to add the decorative touches you’re looking for without veering too far away from what your boyfriend is comfortable with.

Product info after the jump…

1. Urban Outfitters Daisy Floral Tie-Back ($14)

2. Nordstrom “Gardenia” Square Pillow ($45)

3. Urban Outfitters GiGi Side Table ($149)

4. Vintage Wood Locker Wall Shelf ($64)

5. West Elm Globe Pendant ($99)

6. Jennifer Paganelli Buck Island Embroidered Pillow ($130)

7. World Market Farmhouse Coffee Table ($249)

8. Urban Outfitters Mosaic Wall Mirror ($98)

9. World Market Jute Rug ($69-$149)

10. Urban Outfitters Round Pintuck Floor Pillow ($49)

11. Calypso St. Barth Pom-Pom Blanket ($60)

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