Narrow living room ideas – how to make the most of a snug and awkward space

Because small and slightly awkward can still be stylish, as all these narrow living room ideas prove

Narrow living room ideas - a white room with an olive green linen sofa facing a single white boucle armchair and crafted wooden coffee table
(Image credit: Genevieve Lutkin)

We honestly do think that small spaces can often be more fun to decorate than large. And narrow living room ideas allow us to flex our creativity and think outside the box a little on how to make these slightly awkward spaces work. Sure, these space may appear to be a bit of a mission to get right, but whether you rent a space or have inherited an awkward division of rooms, thankfully, there are so many easy ways to make these spaces work, from clever layouts and space-enhancing hacks to color schemes and furniture choices. 

In order to prove that narrow living rooms can in fact be both stylish and functional, we've pulled together all our favorite living room ideas, plus plenty of tips from designers on how to nail a narrow space. 

1. Cover your small space in wallpaper

pink upholstered sofa with abstract pink wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

Tricking the eye with living room wallpaper is the most fabulous way of detracting from the size of the room, and making a narrow space feel larger.

'Wallpaper is a really good way to add an element of texture to small and narrow spaces,' says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director of Little Greene. 'Botanical prints such as ‘Beech Nut’ from the National Trust Papers II collection and other all-over patterns are particularly effective when you don’t have the space to add smaller decorative accents but want this area to give a sense of warmth and personality

2. Create Interest with texture

Blue corner sofa in a white room with wood clad walls and blue paintings

(Image credit: Lydia McKinnon)

This small rustic living room could feel quite ordinary but is injected with oodles of charm with wood-clad walls and ceilings that draw the eye around the room and adds texture and pattern to an awkward space. 

The slats have been painted a bright white which maximizes a sense of space in the small area and reflects any natural light around the sloping nook. Plus lines of any kind, whether on a wallpaper or paneling, can really help change the feel of a narrow space and trick the eye into thinking the space is in fact wider. 

3. Layer color on a neutral palette

Small living room with beige walls and navy sofa with a blue painted coffee table and wicker storage

(Image credit: James Merril)

This narrow living room doubles as a playroom, so the muted but colorful scheme feels both fun and fresh while also not giving off too many playroom vibes – it could easily be transformed into a relaxing space too. 

The walls are painted an elegant sandy color to create that sense of space but the room is not afraid of color and injects individuality with colorful rugs, cushions and sofa and pendant light all in sophisticated tones of blue and green. 

Plus note the furniture, the sofa and the coffee table are also long and narrow, mirroring the size and shape of the room. Rather than having small pieces floating in a narrow space, ensure your pieces fill the space well, you want to avoid a sea of the floor with blocks of furniture breaking up the space. 

4. Use oversized furniture to trick the eye

A large grey L shaped sofa in a small white living room with stairs on the back wall

(Image credit: One World)

Large furniture can dramatically change the feel of a room, making it feel more generous than it really is. This comfortable L-shaped sofa from One.World fills the entire space in a complementary neutral hue.

'An oversized piece of furniture is an easy way to change the feel of any room by creating a cozier and a more comforting feel,' says Jason Bensohn, Managing Director of interiors brand One.World. 'When it comes to the color scheme, opt for similar tones throughout by matching your furniture to your walls, rug, cushions, and other accessories. Lighter shades complemented by warm neutrals will help create a sense of space and add depth to your scheme.' 

5. Go for a luxurious wabi sabi aesthetic 

Angus Reid Interiors

(Image credit: Genevieve Lutkin)

It's a rule of thumb to go neutral and light with living room colors if the space is on the small or narrow side. This approach can often feel a little boring and safe but this exquisite minimal room taps into the crafted Wabi Sabi trend with a handful of furniture. A skinny rustic wood coffee table crushed linen olive sofa and snow-white boucle seating also come together to create a living room like feels both neutral and exciting.

The room also builds on layers of neutral paint to get the depth of color picking out a range of shades throughout the room. The ceiling is left white so it reflects more light down onto the walls and the woodwork and shutters also match but use an eggshell finish to pick them out as highlights.

6. Optimise on your wall space with storage

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Optimizing on space almost always means creating more living room storage! This small space uses the only completely solid wall to create floor-to-ceiling bespoke joinery that can house everything from the TV to books and display items. It's made of light plywood and is an inexpensive but stylish way to add storage and the light wood brightens the small space making it feel larger than it actually is.

7. Incorporate reflective details

Bright narrow living room in a townhouse with shelves and a glossy green painted arch

(Image credit: Suzy Hoodless)

A reflective surface really does visually widen a narrow space. This narrow townhouse features glossy lime green paint around the door frames to provide a soft reflection. 

The rest of the room also features plenty of reflective accessories – a large chrome chandelier, glossy table lamps, and a glass-topped coffee table all cleverly throw light around the room making the space feel lighter than if denser materials were used.

8. Create a comforting snug

Pink room with comfortable corner sofa and gallery wall of eclectic artwork

(Image credit: Studio Sascal)

This pink living room is almost fully encompassed by a plush pink corner sofa and walls are full to the brim with artwork creating a maximalist small space bursting with warmth.

'Maximalism to us is all about layering - it’s so important to layer a room in order to create depth and tell a story,' says Sarah Stemp of interior design studio Sascal. 'Especially living in the UK, which is grey most of the time, having a colorful and cozy layered home filled with textures, patterns, art, objects etc. really helps to bring the warmth inside which is often so lacking in daily life. Maximalism means going with your gut and displaying a curated collection of pieces you love which lends itself particularly well to smaller spaces. The smaller the space, the easier the story is to tell.' 

What can I do with a narrow living room?

Use the right furniture for a narrow living room - a great tip is to choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs and a glass coffee table.m both will keep the appearance of a much more open and free space, allowing light to filter under and around the furniture far more easily.

How do you layout a small narrow living room?

The best narrow living room layout is to create a zone with an area rug and pull furniture away from the walls. Keep the space clutter-free. Use mirrors to reflect light and take advantage of tall ceilings in a long narrow space for storage.

Rohini Wahi

Rohini Wahi is Content Editor for Livingetc Online. With a decade-long career in the interiors and design industry working as a journalist for premium lifestyle publications then delving deeper into the business as a trend forecaster, Rohini has amassed a wealth of global design knowledge that informs her work. She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home.