How to style a long narrow lounge


The traditional layout of Victorian terraced houses can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to arranging furniture. Like many houses of this era that have been updated over the years our house was originally two squarish front rooms that were later knocked into one long thin room of approximately 13 ft x 24 ft.

At first we marvelled at the idea of having a 24ft lounge but then we tried to find the right locations for out two 3-seater sofas and we realised this was going to be a challenge.

BEFORE: Sofas at awkward angles for social interaction and chairs obstruct the pathway to walk from one end of the lounge to the other and fireplace at one end of the room has been blocked off.

Top tips

  1. Think perpendicular– It sounds counter-intuitive when you are dealing with a narrow room, but putting some of your furniture at right angles to the length will really help to create a cohesive sense of social space.
  2. Zone the room – we didn’t want to have one sofa at either end of the 24ft so we set them at roughly 17ft apart and then created a ‘music space’ at the other end of the room opposite the second fireplace between the lounge and the kitchen
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  4. Choose the right seating – some people opt for one 3-seater sofa and two armchairs but my partner and I both enjoy the luxury of reclining on a sofa. An L-shaped sofa might have been an option except that we have a square bay which would have meant that we effectively lost the use of the space in the bay cut off by the L. The position of the door to the hallway also meant that the maximum length of the recliner end of the sofa could be 170 cm which significantly limited the number of sofas available to us. We chose two 3-seater sofas and avoided matchy-matchy by picking one in a dark green velvet and the other in a tan leather. Choose sofas on raised legs so that you can see underneath them – this will also create the illusion of space.
  5. Arrange your furniture for social interaction – the room won’t feel natural if your sofa is facing in one direction and your guests’ sofa is facing a right angle to this. Even if it feels like this creates a lot of space in the centre of the room, it will mean people need to crane their necks to chat to you when they come over and that’s not good for getting a party started!
  6. Choose the right coffee table – I found coffee tables with right-angled edges felt ‘harsh’ in the space which seemed to compromise the ‘flow’ of the room. This oval coffee table has the length to be practical for up to three people sitting on the same sofa and the variation in width really maximises the space in the room.
  7. Allow space to walk – Make sure there is adequate space to walk down one side of the room easily – don’t create an obstacle course around the edges just to create more space in the centre – this will negatively affect the whole space
  8. Fireplaces add symmetry – If you don’t have one already in existence, consider creating a second fireplace in the chimney breast at the far end of the room to add symmetry and make the space feel more cohesive. It cost around £400 to have the fireplace exposed add a lintel and plaster. I picked up the original Victorian fire surround for £70 on eBay – it did need to be sanded and painted but it has come up a treat. We use this second fireplace for stacking logs but the shelf also provides us with a new space to display art and nicknacks at this end of the room.

    Knock a hole in the chimney breast, add a lintel and pick up a second hand fire surround for next to nothing on eBay.

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