Design Challenge: What to do with a long room?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Jan• 15•08

WendysolomondoneReader Wendy S. sends in the following design challenge. The pictures of her room are at top on the right. (Click on images to enlarge.)

On the bottom, you’ll see the room I plugged into Better Homes & Gardens’ nifty online Arrange-a-Room program, which you can play with here.

And now for Wendy’s dilemma:

“I am stumped about how to put together the furniture in my family room. It is 15-by-22 feet. On one short wall is a sliding glass door to the backyard. On the other short wall is the door to the garage. On one long wall is a fireplace flanked by built in bookcases on the top. On the other wall is an opening to the kitchen and a doorway to the hall.

“If I put a couch facing the fireplace, there is no comfortable place to put the TV. But if I put the TV on the one available wall, the rest of the furniture is bunched up in half of the room.

“I am also thinking about taking the bookcases out because I don’t really need additional shelving. It has dark beams across the ceiling and if I take out the shelves, I am not sure if the beams are stained at the ends, so I may end up with a problem matching them.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

Wendy, my suggestion, as you’ll see from the illustration, is to abandon the thought of using the whole room for one seating area, and create two areas.

I’ve placed the TV next to the fireplace with the couch and chairs facing that direction. I’ve also created a separate seating area that could be made cozy for reading. I like the idea that several people could be in one room but doing different things. The reading area could also be a game area. I could imagine a nice game of Scrabble going on there. I would not take out the shelves as I think they can make each of those corners seem more cozy with a few books and photos.

OK, everyone. Your turn. What ideas do you have for Wendy? Would you lose the bookshelves?

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2 Comments

  1. lil_gaucha says:

    One word: Bar.
    Long rooms with built in bookshelves make great bar/living room combos — great for parties (OK, but only if you don’t have small children or teens). The unneeded bookshelves can become wine racks/liquor storage areas, and you’ve got a convenient party space. I’d put it on the end nearest the kitchen entrance for extra convenience.
    Our last rental had this arrangement and it was brilliant. We often ate at the bar instead of the dining room.

  2. Brent says:

    Both Kathy’s and lil_gaucha’s ideas ask that you reinvent the room in your mind as a “great room”, “rumpus room” or the like. Try thinking of it that way and see if it frees up any additional ideas of you own.
    I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but one of the things that Kathy’s drawings capitalize on is use of area rugs to define a room within the room. Visual cues like this are commonly used in effective design.

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