4 tips to help you decorate a long, narrow room

26 April 2016

Decorating a long, narrow room may seem difficult, but there are tricks you can use.

  1. Lay the floorboards crosswise to make the room feel wider
  2. Use light colours on floors and walls to open up the space
  3. Lighting and mirrors create illusions of a larger room
  4. Balance the furnishing with design features

Start with the floor – the direction in which the floorboards lie can make a big difference to how the room looks. Laying the floor in the same direction as the room’s main light source and in line with the most used entrance is a handy rule of thumb, but when you are dealing with a long, narrow room, you may prefer to use optical tricks. If you lay the floorboards crosswise, the space looks wider because this method takes away the feeling that you are framing the room.

Light colours open up

Light colours on the floor and walls can further emphasise this effect, since dark colours make a narrow room appear even narrower, while light colours open it up. Avoid stripes because they emphasise the perception of length. However, on the wall that is furthest away, you can use a slightly darker and warmer colour or pattern because this makes the wall appear closer than it really is. Putting a large picture or a large piece of furniture on the far wall creates the same effect. Lighting can also make a difference. Using multiple light sources blurs the contours and makes the room feel more spacious.
Mirrors can also create the illusion of a larger room.

Furnishing is a challenge

The greatest challenge is furnishing. It may seem easiest to put all the furniture along one wall, but this makes the room feel lopsided and even longer than it is. In some rooms, it may be difficult to do anything else, but then there is the option of using narrower and smaller furniture to make the room appear more spacious, or balancing the other side with design features such as paintings.

Try to arrange pieces of furniture in small groups instead of placing them in a line, and feel free to use round furniture and accessories. This tricks the eye, making the surface appear wider.

A few brightly coloured items draw the eye and break up the long space. Hanging lamps and wall-mounted shelves also create more space on the floor.

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