icon How to Decorate an Awkward Living Room

How to Decorate an Awkward Living Room

You will always have to make some form of sacrifice when buying or renting your house or apartment. Sometimes that sacrifice is questionable plumbing or squeaky floors, and other times it’s an awkwardly shaped living room that feels impossible to decorate.

An awkwardly shaped room doesn’t mean you have no chance of a functional and fashionable layout for your living room. In fact, dealing with unconventional spaces encourages creativity and can lead to stunning personalized living room designs!

Read on to learn how to decorate an awkward living room and transform the space into a relaxing and cozy haven for you and your family to enjoy.

Smaller Living Rooms

When working with limited space, it can be challenging to keep your living room from looking crowded and stuffy. When you want your interior design style to shine through, there’s the risk of squeezing in too many things because you like them!

When arranging the room, be strategic. Look at your largest piece of furniture first, and work your way down from there. Usually, the biggest piece of furniture works best against the room’s longest wall.

Small living room with a teal accent wall.  Teal sofa sitting against the accent wall.  There is a coffee table in front.

Consider these tips when purchasing and arranging your furniture:

1. Incorporate Multifunctional Furniture

Living room furniture that fills multiple roles is essential in a small space. Look for ottomans that double as storage benches, nesting coffee tables, or cabinets with mirrored doors.

With tiny homes taking the world by storm, there is no shortage of furniture that has many uses and minimum space requirements! Draw inspiration from their space-saving hacks and create a useful and comfortable living room that feels more spacious than it is.

2. Limit Furniture Size

When coming up with decorating ideas for a small living room, it pays to be picky with your furniture. Since space is in short supply, you can’t afford to fill the room with pieces that don’t fit the mood or aesthetic.

Avoid furniture which takes up extra space without having added functionality. This could be that couch with an enormous backrest or the coffee table which has legs that extend past the tabletop.

3. Brighten and Widen with Mirrors

Mirrors are your secret weapon when fighting with a small space. They will open up and brighten your living room while tying smaller décor pieces together to make the room feel cohesive.

Close up of a round framed mirror on a wall, reflecting another wall with art on it.

Place your mirror opposite a window to reflect the outdoors, or create the illusion of depth by angling them towards a focal point in the room. Place a table lamp near smaller mirrors to optimize their brightening ability.

4. Hang Your Curtains High

A sneaky design trick that has gained major popularity in the last few years is to install your curtain rod a foot or two higher than the top of your window. This elongates the walls and can make your small space feel enormous!

5. Lengthen the Walls

Another way to lengthen your walls is to paint the trim the same color as the walls! A small task that makes a huge difference, this technique is one of the best for smaller spaces.

Now that you know how to manage and style a small living room, let’s move on to rooms with strange ceilings. These may not be tiny, but they are definitely awkward…

How to Decorate An Awkward Living Room with Odd Ceilings

Whether designing a living room in an attic or working with ceilings that seem light-years away, there are clever ways to work with odd angles and shapes created by your ceiling. Slanted ceilings are a common awkward component of living rooms. 

Slanted Ceilings

While slanted ceilings do limit the layout options for your living room, they don't restrict as much as it may seem. Decorating around slanted ceilings is a matter of figuring out where you need functional vertical space and where you can make do without it.

Light blue sofa in a bright open loft area with a slanted ceiling over the sofa.

Your high-traffic furniture, such as seating, should get priority. Place sofas and ottomans where a person can comfortably stand before sitting down. Coffee tables and side tables don’t need that vertical space to be used.

Similarly, books in a tall bookshelf can be moved into shorter bookshelves that fit the room's shorter side.

Tall Ceilings

Tall and empty walls are intimidating until you start to view them as something to play around with. Try some of these ideas:

1. Showcase Art

Is there an artist you’ve been dying to have in your home? These tall walls are your chance to do that! Elevate the artwork (and take up some more vertical space) by installing picture lights above the pieces.

2. Statement Wallpaper

Wallpaper can be seen as another form of artwork. You have all this extra wall space, why not fill it with vibrant patterns and eye-catching visuals?

Light blue sofa with a rug in front, side table with a plant and clock on it, behind the sofa is a bold leafy accent wallpaper

Choosing an accent wall lets you get away with patterns that would be overwhelming if used throughout the entire room. Put the tall ceilings to good use and bring in some fun to your living room!

3. Wall Stickers

Wall stickers are a delightful way to introduce personality and life into any space, but particularly the living room. Use anything from a favorite quote or some tree wall decals to vibrantly colored flower stickers.

Long and Narrow Living Rooms

Narrow living rooms tend to feel tunnel-like, so for this type of space you want to prioritize light, soft lines, and vertical space to keep the room feeling open and inviting. Experiment with height by bringing in statement bookshelves or tall indoor plants.

Narrow living room with white walls, window at the end of the image.  Sofa is on the right wall, small round coffee table in the middle and a long credenza opposite the sofa.

Having everything lined up next to each other along the longer walls is a design option, but it quickly accentuates the skinniness of the room. Pull any seating (sofas, ottomans, armchairs, etc.) slightly away from the wall to introduce some dimension and keep your living room from feeling flat.

1. Introduce Curves

The last thing your narrow, boxy living room needs is narrow, boxy furniture. Introduce some visual variation with a circular or oval coffee table, a round rug, or a sofa with curved edges and flowing lines.

2. Lengthen the Space with Mirrors

You can widen the room by using mirrors on one (or both!) of the longer walls. This creates the illusion of a wider space as well as brightening the room.

Depending on the aesthetic you’re going for, you can either keep it simple with one large mirror or consider a gallery-wall-inspired design with multiple smaller mirrors.

3. Utilize Paint

A great trick to open up a narrow space is to paint the longer walls with a darker color than the shorter walls. Dark colors will minimize the length of the walls, and the differences in the paint shades give the illusion of a less long and narrow space.

Lighter colors lengthen and brighten a space. If you paint the short walls with a smooth white, pale beige, or light gray, they will appear wider and larger.

Wide Open Living Rooms

Large spaces allow you to really play around with the layout and design of your living room but can feel overwhelming when you first get started. Here are the best ways to break down the space into manageable sections:

1. Create Zones

The best way to tackle anything is to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. So, when you’re faced with a wide-open living room, find ways to separate the space into zones.

Small living room that is open to the kitchen, there is a sofa but also a small dining room table in the middle of the room.

A fireplace or wall-mounted TV is a great anchor point for a relaxed conversation zone, and an enormous window could be the perfect place for a reading nook. You can visually separate each area by using room dividers, or with different rugs.

You have enough space for the room to be multi-functional, so why not bring in office furniture and create a work zone?

2. Use Mirrors Wisely

By now you should understand how mirrors widen a space. If you want to bring a mirror into an already large area, be strategic about it. You could get a standing mirror with an ornate frame to add an interesting visual and to take up some of the abundant floor space.

Place furniture and home decor pieces partially in front of any mirrors to keep them from making the space feel empty. Some ideas for this include:

  • Your sofa
  • A stack of books
  • Plants in eye-catching baskets or pots
  • A bench
  • A console table

Remember to keep things cohesive from zone to zone. If the conversation area has ultra-modern furniture, don’t go for Victorian-style armchairs in a reading nook. Make sure your key colors are carried consistently through the overall design and don’t forget to look at the space as a whole.

Open Plan Living and Dining Rooms

The methods for decorating an open-plan living and dining room are similar to those we used for long and narrow living rooms. The difference here, that we also want to divide the space into separate zones while retaining a seamless aesthetic and cohesive design.

1. Consider Backless Sofas

Open spaces need some furniture in their center to create an inviting and cozy atmosphere. Backless sofas are a great way to divide an open-plan living room and dining area without boxing off the different areas. They allow the eye to flow from one zone to the other without interruption.

2. Room Dividers

A different route you could take would be to put up room dividers. This is a good opportunity to play around with different textures.

Light wooden slatted room divider with a basket in front filled with pink flowers.

Do you want something rustic made from wooden slats? Or perhaps a lightweight curtain to bring in movement and softness? Another option might be a plant room divider or something more useful like a large open bookcase.

3. Common Color

If separating the two areas is not tickling your fancy – you can head in the opposite direction. Think of your living and dining rooms as one room with two zones, and decorate them with the same colors, aesthetics, and style.

This method results in a cozy and united dual-purpose room and helps you keep your designs cohesive.

Boxy and Boring Living Rooms

Sometimes the layout of a boxy room is so straightforward it becomes uninspiring. If you’re struggling to liven up a dull space into the perfect living room, you should consider introducing some (or all) of the following aspects:

1. Multiple Focal Points

When planning the design for a room without challenging corners, odd ceilings, or multiple entrances, you run the risk of playing things too safe. To keep the room lively and interesting, bring in more than one focal point. You can have an accent wall and a vibrant coffee table floral arrangement, or a dazzling chandelier as well as gorgeous art on the walls.

2. Play with Color

A boxy room is a perfect palette for you to experiment with color on! Bring in a jewel-toned sofa, colorful scatter cushions, or vibrant, patterned vases. You’re working in a simple shape – so you have the space to be creative.
Now let’s look at the opposite of boxy.

L-Shaped Living Rooms

An L-shaped living room is almost like a long and narrow living room, just bent in the middle. Here's how to decorate them. 

1. Create Functional Zones

For an L-shaped room, you want to group furniture into different functional zones. For example, one leg of the L can contain comfy sofas and the TV, while the other leg has your dining table and china cabinet.
You can help visualize these zones with room dividers or different rugs throughout the room.

2. Use Rugs as Dividers

Area rugs visually bring together furniture pieces in a room by grounding them and creating a common zone. Now, awkward nooks and crannies look intentional and purposeful instead of something you had to put up with during your home improvement journey.

Open loft space with a brick wall, focus is on dining room table, but you can look past it to the living room.  Multiple rugs are on the floor.

Add a quirky piece of art or a statement coffee table to further focus the area and display more of your personality. Creating a focal point takes attention away from the room’s layout and draws the eye to the details instead.

An Abundance of Windows

Designing around many windows can be tricky because you don’t want to block any of the gorgeous natural light that they bring in. For this type of space, start by positioning your tall and solid furniture to not block any windows. Then you can slot in shorter furniture in between.

Place shorter cabinets in front of your window sills to keep the space in front of them useful. If you find the room’s design lacks height around the windows, lift the eye by hanging interesting curtains or put a tall floor lamp in between chairs and sofas.

Every Awkward Living Room Can Be Gorgeous

By now you should realize that an awkward living room doesn’t need to limit your design potential. With the right tools, you can create your dream living room in any shape or size!

If you’re working with an interesting living room and need some advice, we’re here to help. Contact us at Melissa Vickers Design for expert tips on how to decorate an awkward living room.

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