Decorating Dilemmas: Caitlyn’s Long, Narrow Living and Dining Room

Decorating a long, narrow family and dining room

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

We recently bought a condo! Now, we need help with how to furnish and lay out a long narrow living space that also has a dining area around the corner. We are not going to have a television, and we don’t have a fireplace.

We want a warm, inviting space to entertain guests. Along one wall, we have patio doors that open to a deck with a nature preserve behind us. Although we are hoping this is mainly an adult space, we also have young children, so practicality is important also (for sofas and accent chairs). The bookcase in the corner is going to be white and built-in to the corner. I was thinking of another seating area along this wall or console table with cube underneath.

Not pictured, but we also have your Children Playing at the Seashore print. We are going to paint the walls Benjamin Moore, “Snow on the Mountain” with white dove trim.

Any help with suggestions for furniture and wall decor is greatly appreciated.


area by the window
corner w/ slider
Looking into kitchen
Looking outside


Designing for long, narrow living spaces can be challenging, but great fun! We created a versatile floor plan for you which will maximize your space with Ballard Designs pieces that serve a dual purpose.

C Dunn

In your dining area (and considering your existing storage piece), we have added our Chianni Trestle Dining Table in the Distressed Oak. For everyday use, the Chianni table has a narrow width of 36” but varies in length so you can add a table leaf for entertaining larger parties. Four Constance chairs in Chestnut, with their padded cane seats, will be perfect for everyday dining. For whimsy and interest, add the Kenzie Rug beneath your dining table. By placing two upholstered Gramercy Chairs, in Sunbrella Herringbone Camel, at each end of your table is a perfect solution for two reasons. These chair frames are very comfortable and durable for dining purposes but can also be moved to your living area for additional seating when necessary. Accenting these chairs with the Wave Knot pillows in orange (actually a coral color) will add a splash of color to the area and coordinate with your living areas.

If you decide to leave the Gramercy Chairs in position as a permanent reading space, we suggest that you add an Olivia Mirrored Accent Table in antique brass, a table lamp, and our wonderful coordinating Bellesol Mirror to make the spot complete. A beautiful option to your built-in shelving is the Tuscan Corner Shelving unit in Tuscan Cream. This piece is a mitered double bookcase that would add both storage and visual height and interest to your space.

In your living area, our comfortable Eton Sofa upholstered in Davidson Herringbone Sand positioned against the wall and 2 Larkin Swivel Gliders, facing the sofa, will give you a lot of seating options. We suggest you upholster the Larkin chairs in Capri Butter Sunbrella or Merrick Coral to add warmth and brightness to this space. Ground the seating group with the Ferina Hand-tufted Rug in an 8’ x 10’ and then top the rug with our Andrews cocktail table in the whitewash color. Both the ‘Coral Splash’ and ‘Breaking Dawn’ artwork options will work well in the living area. Since these pieces of art come in three size options, you can select the size that works best for your space. One large piece of artwork would give a strong focal point in a small area.

Your existing side table with an added table lamp, such as our Tortoise Accent Lamp, is a good start for good lighting. Add the Sloan Floor Lamp finish off the lighting balance of the sitting space.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team


Decorating a long, narrow family and dining room

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Send us your own questions here.


How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.