Getting the most out of a narrow room

January 30, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I need advice on refurnishing a narrow living room that has a fireplace in the middle of the long wall. My aim is to provide seating for eight people, but I also want to leave space for a writing table. What would be the best way to arrange all this furniture?

A: To give specific advice I need to know the exact size of your living room as well as the location of the doors and windows. I'll assume, however, that your fairly narrow space is about 20 feet long and at least 12 feet wide, with doors at either end of the room and with windows opposite the fireplace. If that approximates the room's actual layout, you should be able to create a comfortable and balanced setting by following a few easy guidelines.

This photo shows how the furniture placement might look in one end-section of the room.

Start by visibly enhancing the room's width. That can be done simply by placing some of the furniture perpendicular to the long fireplace wall. One possibility is to arrange a pair of love seats, each about 50 inches long, so that they face one another across a narrow coffee table.

A tall cabinet like the bookcase shown in the photo could then be placed on one side of the fireplace facing the other long wall. Besides its obvious functional advantages, a piece of this sort will introduce some needed visual variety by focusing attention on the room's height rather than on its narrow width.

You could place your writing table behind one of the love seats, just as was done in this model. Accompany it with an upholstered armchair that can be used as an additional seating piece for large gatherings.

The rest of the seating group can be made up of two or three medium-size chairs on casters. I would situate them in a loose, semi-circular array near the wall opposite the fireplace. They can easily be rolled closer to the love seats to form a cozy fireside conversation cluster when guests arrive. An ottoman or other small occasional piece might be tucked into a corner or placed beside a table, from where it can also be called into service during parties.

To round out the room's design, fill the corners with plants and perhaps a sculpture atop a pedestal. And as a final touch, consider hanging a decoratively framed mirror above the mantel, which will further enhance the illusion of width.

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