The Long Room: the short of it

One of the frequent challenges we encounter in homes is the bowling-alley living room that often looks like this:


Typically designed to provide views and lots of natural light (thus a wall with windows you can’t do anything with) these long spaces present a puzzle, especially when there is one strong focal feature, such as this fireplace.

The applicable word here is: ZONES.  Segment the room into specific activity areas for the family.  This way you are working with bite-size pieces, and even if it takes a while to complete the entire picture, you can at least complete one zone to live in now.

Here’s how we set up the room for three activities:  cozy reading by the fire, visiting with friends and watching the view, and dining.  Easy-peasy, right?

f_N4Qal-UT1EmifVql6YC35AHowever, this plan only works well if you follow these rules:

  • CONSISTENCY.  Keep the same style of furnishings and decor throughout (i.e. transitional, traditional, Modern, etc.)  While you can certainly mix individual pieces/style, you want a cohesive look throughout with color and/or furniture type. Thsi way you also have flexibility of moving items around between zones to accommodate more guests yet still keep it stylish.  For example, the orange chairs can easily be turned to face the sitting area.
  • AIR.  You want to create a pause, or air,  between zones to avoid the cluttered look and also define each area’s activity. Rugs are great for defining, while leaving floor space around for traffic and air flow.
  • HI/LO.  We use this term in two ways.  First, decorate with both new and “used” (or much-loved) pieces, with high and low value/age.  Avoid the furniture showroom look with all new pieces and no personality.  The other term means balance the room with items that are high on walls, such as plants, art, mantel decor, etc, with low items such as seating, pillows, rugs, etc. Notice how your eye moves through the room, from the pottery on fireplace, down to the colorful pillow, back up to the wall art…
  • EXTEND.  Note the round mirror in the far hallway wall?  A painting or photo would work as well, but the idea is to extend the interest of the room into an adjoining space (“what’s over there?”).

The short of it is that often we think of decorating a room like this one like biting into a large slice of cake.  It is far better to take it in stages:  take little morsels that you can change later if wish, and then keep adding pieces in the same style until completed.

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