How To Decorate A Blank Long Living Room Wall

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Over the years, a question I’m asked frequently is what to do with a long expanse of wall. And, usually, it’s a long living room wall.

 

Why are there so many blank long living room walls?

 

The more obvious reasons are:

  • It’s an apartment, and the long living room wall is attached to another apartment.
  • The same thing could go for a townhouse or brownstone.

Indeed, years ago, we had a long expanse of empty wall in our townhouse in Goldens Bridge.

And, in my Bronxville, NY apartment, there were two long living room walls of about 19 feet each. You can see my Bronxville, NY apartment here.

 

Sometimes the long living room wall is an inside wall of a home. This is not uncommon.

 

One common option is to do a wall of built-in cabinets or bookcases. However, they are usually the most expensive option. If you are thinking of doing built-in cabinetry, consider if doing so will add value to your home. Or, maybe the subsequent owners might want to rip it all out.

Also, think about how long you plan to be there. If you’re unsure if built-in cabinetry will add value, I would recommend getting free-standing furniture you can take with you to your next home.

 

But, here’s the problem with free-standing furniture and a long wall.

 

We’ve been led to believe it’s no good to line up furniture against the wall. Right?

Well, yes, and no. Usually, it’s not a good idea to line up the furniture along a long wall. We discussed this in one of my favorite posts about 21 Interior Design Mistakes.

Below is a great example of what not to do when furnishing a long wall in any room.

 

bad furniture placement - large wall

via Jill Valeri

So bad…

I realize that bedrooms can present an additional challenge; however, this kind of random lining up of furniture is not a good design choice.

 

In a bit, we will discuss how to put multiple pieces of furniture on one wall so that it looks great.

 

But, let’s focus on the blank, long living room wall for now. I like to think of these walls as a composition.

 

I very much recommend planning out your long living room wall.

 

As I have shown you with floor plans, you can create a scale elevation drawing of your long wall plan. I use quarter-inch graph paper, but I find that 1/2″ scale is easier on the eyes for elevations. In that case, four squares will equal a square foot.

 

Graph Grid Paper 30 x 30 - 1975

 

I use virtual graph paper on my Picmonkey boards.

 

Again, one square = one foot. If it’s too small, you can zoom in to see better. Please feel free to save the grid above if you decide to use Pickmonkey. You can layer it on top of your board.

A few years ago, I made a tutorial about using Pickmonkey. Some things have changed, but I’ve always found their program to be intuitive.

 

Now, it’s time to figure out what we’ll put on our long living room wall.

 

Here are a few things to think about.

 

    • Do you need a TV?

 

    • Would you like a faux fireplace?

 

    • Maybe you need a large bookcase or china cabinet.

 

Here is where the rule of thirds is going to come in handy. You can’t go wrong with this. And by thirds, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are three equal parts. They don’t have to be, but the two end sections should be equal.

 

In other words, the best long living room wall compositions look best if they are symmetrical.

 

Therefore, I feel it’s fine to line furniture up against a big living room wall, but only if it makes sense.

 

Let’s look at some options for furnishing a long living room wall.

 

cost-saving decorating tricks applied wall moulding

One option that can go a long way is to add applied wall moulding. In this example, the chair rail would be better as a solid piece, but you get the idea. Imagine how the art would like more random if the moulding wasn’t there.

This post about wainscoting also has some clever ideas. I used wainscoting (and applied wall moulding) in most of the Laurel Home Palette Boards for this reason.

And, speaking of art.

 

 

We could also fill a long unbroken wall with art. Above is a fabulous example by Maura Endres. In addition, there are numerous posts that feature art walls and art wall templates you can copy.

Yes, one way to fill up a long living room wall is to have a long sofa and some end tables. That can take up a good 12 feet or more.

 

However, let’s focus on a wall that will act as a focal point in the room.

 

To that end, I made several boards for sharing some ideas for a big living room wall. At the top and left side, of some of them, you’ll see some boxes. Those represent one foot. Most of these walls are about 18 to 20 feet. If your wall is bigger, you’ll probably need larger furniture, or it’s also okay to have a little breathing space.

 

Your wall is unlikely to be more than 26 feet long.

 

Please also note that these are not fully styled vignettes. But, I think it’ll give you some ideas of the basic principles involved.

Some of these boards were made a few years ago. However, I made four new boards yesterday, from 20 – 26 feet long!

 

donald cabinet big living room wall composition

 

The first board is from my old living room. This is the Donald cabinet before Laurel impulsively (but happily) painted it Cotton Balls. (you can see it painted by clicking on the link)

 

The principle here is that two smaller pieces flank a LARGE focal point.

 

You could have mirrors or art over the tables. Lamps in front of a mirror are really fabulous.

Do, they have to be demi-lunes, Laurel?

No, they could be rectangular, small console tables, as well. I probably would not do a chest. I think a different finish, material, or color is also good for the tables; that is different from the center cabinet.

 

Above, is a new board showing the Donald cabinet “painted” white through the magic of Picmonkey. I painted the walls a beautiful Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection color, Benjamin Moore Twilight.

 

Benjamin Moore twilight 2058-10

 

twilight dining room

The mood board above is from the paint and palette collection. It’s one of my favorite boards. Plus, this is a reasonably long wall in a dining room.

By the way, as indicated by your comments on Sunday and Monday, some of you don’t realize that these are concept boards,

 

Below is a quote from last Sunday’s post, unedited:

 

Below is the board design in progress. Please note that this is not the room layout. But, I do it to get in as many elements as possible. I like to put the furniture in an approximation of perspective.

 

In other words, the boards are not representing the actual room layout even though they are meant to have a room-like feel.

 

Therefore, this is a gentle reminder to a few of you to please read the post first before commenting.

 

The next board is a super large bookcase. Of course, you could always do a built-in bookcase as stated earlier.

 

Sarreid bookcase - big living room wall

 

However, it is always essential to anchor most pieces, especially tall, heavy pieces, to the wall. Above, I have it flanked by two occasional chairs, sconces, and some art to round out the composition.

 

Next up is something I fantasized about doing in my old apartment in New York.

 

Montclair Sofas - living room Crate and Barrel

If I could have changed one thing, I very much wanted a beautiful fireplace. I loved my old one and missed it.

 

Christmas evening fire 12.25.2021

 

Of course, I remedied that issue with my current home in Boston. ;]

If you don’t already know, furring is a technical term for the bump-out that would be necessary to create a believable-looking fireplace wall.

 

One foot would probably be enough. It doesn’t have to jut way out into the room, especially if the space is tight.

shelterness-blend-tv-with-interior

Furring out the wall would also allow a space to hide the TV behind some pretty doors. This post has some great ideas for decorating around a TV.

And this short post is one of the best hiding the TV solutions – ever!

 

In my old apartment I still needed storage, so I would’ve put a tall cabinet on either side.

 

big living room wall Gustavian cabinets

 

These were from Wisteria, but sadly they no longer carry them.

The two thin lines are where the fireplace would come forward into the room.

 

Wisteria Gustavian cabinet

 

The cabinet in a real room.

 

big living room wall faux or gas fireplace

 

Above is an alternate idea with two large chests and beautiful mirrors.

I love the idea of adding a faux fireplace, or even a gas fireplace. But, a beautiful mantel is always a welcome addition.  Please check out this post about faux fireplaces.

Also, you might enjoy this post when I was thinking about an electric fireplace in my bedroom instead of a radiator. Although I like the idea, I’m not planning on doing it.

 

long living room wall - chests

You could also do different colors and styling. This would be for a slightly smaller wall. I think it’s best if there’s a little breathing room, like 6″-12″, on either side of the piece of furniture. But, if it’s tighter than that, it should be okay. But the moulding of the piece of furniture should not touch the wall.

 

Yes, that’s my face on the painting.

 

You know, every time I see this one, I think of the Joker from Batman.

 

Caesar Romero Joker Batman

haha

Caesar Romero, from the original Batman TV show was the best Joker.

 

Crate and Barrel Amma wood and glass cabinets

 

I love the Amma cabinet  from Scout & Nimble. It’s only 72″ high, so better for a room with an eight-foot ceiling. However, this height looks good with a collection of Chinoiserie porcelains.

 

amma wood and glass cabinet

Another thing you could do with this cabinet is to paint the inside a color to coordinate with your decor. I recommend doing a small section first, because the glass might distort the color.

 

Of course, you could always do a long living room wall with a faux fireplace and then two huge, gorgeous pieces of art flanking each side.

I also love this post about these big, gorgeous, French mirrors over the fireplace mantel.

 

Silvia Etagere Ballard Designs - big living room wall

I think that the Sylvia Étagère trio from Ballard Designs is quite handsome. A longer wall could be balanced out by art or sconces, and an extra dining or occasional chair could be on each side.

 

Large Living Room Wall - 9 x 20 TV wall - etageres

 

Above I used the center section flanking a 122″ breakfront sideboard from Sarreid!

 

If you are looking for more TV decor ideas, please check out this post about decorating around the TV

This post has more cool ideas about what to do with the television.

And this post is about making your TV wires disappear once and for all.

 

Large Living Room Wall - tall breakfront benches 2

Above is a board that works in terms of composition. However, this kind of arrangement would be better for a super long and fairly wide hall in a home than a living room.

This is  a 24-foot long wall. So, if it were about six feet less, instead of the settees, one could use two chairs flanking the cabinet.

Those who own the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection, which comes with the Palette and Home Furnishings Guide with forty palette and furnishing boards, have many more detailed vignettes with long walls. Some have windows or doors, but several of the mood boards do not.

 

Large Living Room Wall - empty 9 x 24 teal cream walls

 

Above is one last board with vintage furniture and a priceless oil painting. ;]

 

Another post that might spark some ideas is this one for rooms with no windows.

 

Below is a graphic image to pin to your Pinterest boards for reference

furniture ideas - big living room wall
I hope this gave you some good ideas for how to deal with a long living room wall.

Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales Pages. There are a lot of excellent post-Labor Day Sales still going on.

xo,

 

8th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2021 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

17 Responses

  1. Perfect timing. Just yesterday I was explaining to a client that we should put matching cabinet pieces on either side of the fireplace and here you are displaying it for me! I’ll alert them to your post so they can visualize what I was talking about. Thank you Laurel!

  2. I don’t have a single long, uninterrupted wall in my home! Nonetheless, I had to comment to say that I love your design aesthetic, so I adore your beautiful examples. Also, I love your new website design! I don’t see a favicon for your website on my tab. I was wondering if that was by design or is there an issue with my browser? I’m using Firefox on a Macbook.

  3. What do you think of a wall of mercury mirror tiles? I have a blank wall in the dining room but not enough space for a buffet on it. I’m thinking of mercury/antique tile mirrors on the entire wall, chinoiserie wallpaper all around the rest of the room and a vine and crystal bud chandelier.

  4. Hi Laurel,
    All of your great ideas are beautiful & symmetrical. But I’ve discovered in my old age that if I have too much symmetry that the space feels very formal & stiff. Almost contrived.
    Are symmetrical layouts the best option in these situations?

  5. Just wanted to say we changed our wood-burning fireplace to electric. I live in Florida the chimney leaked from 2 different hurricanes. Of course, insurance did not cover it. Rarely if ever, do we need a fire in Florida. So off with the chimney and nice roof that doesn’t leak. The fireplace puts out some heat or can choose no heat. Looks very real. Best of all turns on with a remote and no ashes to clean out! Never thought I would like a “fake” fireplace but love mine.

  6. Laurel, what would you recommend if you have a long wall with a center fireplace and a window on one side of the fireplace but not the other? This is my situation.

    1. Hi Kathryn,

      I recommend that you move; as soon as possible. ;]

      Joking, of course.

      I can’t see the entire room; however, I would try to create a visual balance with a tall piece
      OR a chest/table with a mirror or art over it.

    2. I have that problem. We balanced the window with an armoire that has a mirrored door. We use it as a coat closet for guests.

  7. Oh, Laurel, I do really enjoy your posts and have learned soooo much, especially from the painting guides I purchased! BUT…my long wall is an issue of a different beast.

    The LR is approximately 15×23.

    One short-end wall has a large window looking out the front of the house. In each of those corners, I have a seating vignette with wing-back chairs in a tapestry print I adore. Most of the artwork of the room is featured in these 2 corners. The other short wall has centered French doors which open to a screened porch overlooking the backyard. A decorative tri-fold gate is in the far corner and an antique library desk, chair, lamp, etc. in the other, flanking the French doors leading to the porch.

    The main seating area is floating in the middle of the floor around the fireplace which is centered on the far-long wall, with windows on either side. This arrangement consists of a sofa facing the fireplace, to the left of it is a love sea,; to the right are 2 leather chairs. In the middle is a large, square coffee table. The near long wall is off the (oddly-shaped) foyer (I will spare you my problems with this area & its 1 arched front door, 4 single doors, 2 pairs of French doors & a stairway opening in about an 7×14′ area) & has French doors located about 3 feet off from the front (short) wall, but about 5 feet off a separate room and the stairway which ends at the 5′ wall. (Does that make sense?) Maybe it would’ve been easier to say, “The French doors leading into the LR are located on the left of the long wall.”

    Anyways, back to the LR…

    The problem is the L-O-N-G wall is along the path which leads to the leather chairs & to the French doors for the screened porch. I do not have the space for any furniture on this wall, with the current room arrangement. I really do like my main seating area in the middle of the floor, since the long, back wall and the fireplace are not in proper alignment for furniture.

    I have toyed with various art installations (but I do like to switch out some of my pieces for seasonal ones). I’ve thought about family photos; my husband hates this idea. I once had a large, local antique map. (I ended up giving it to relatives who bought a church to transform into a home.) I’ve thought about an arrangement of antique, wooden stamping blocks for fabrics or a metal bells/chimes in a frame. I just don’t know which way to turn.

    OH, one other thing which may help you help me…(Does that sound like “Jerry Maguire”???) Our home is an 80 year old French Norman Cottage.

    I will completely understand if you decide to refer me to a therapist. I obviously have “commitment” issues.

    Thank, Laurel.

    LeAnn

  8. Laurel, you wonderful woman you, I love this post!! First congratulations on your new website! As they say across the pond, “Well done you!” I look forward to every post on Sunday mornings and Wednesdays. I admit my brain can’t process the more detailed posts with the architectural diagrams, but I adore the visuals you provide with your boards. I’ve been drooling over the Ballard Design etageres since you first showed them a couple of years ago. I always loved Donald, especially after you painted him a lighter color. And now there’s Amma, goegeous for those of us with 8′ ceilings, and I agree with the idea of painting the inside. Hubs and I live in a 1960’s bi-lvel with absolutely no architectural styling. I’m talking clamshell moulding if you’re lucky. Our inside staircase is wrought iron, speckle painted white and gold, with a shiny brass handrail and giant gold and white wrought iron butterflies for the balusters. Sounds just dreamy, eh? My DH says it has to stay since it is so sturdy, what with the brass handrails-n-all. Obvs I don’t have free reign with the decor, not even if I made him one of your banana cream pies. We also have the kind of budget where CL and now FB Marketplace have been my best friends for non-upholstered peices. I recently scored 4 black chinese chinoiserie dining room chairs for $100.00 which I’ll repaint and recover. I waited for two years to find ones I could afford and drove 2 hours each way to pick them up before gas prices hit the roof. Now my Mom’s MCM china closet features only glassware and some blue and white chinoiserie pieces from years ago, all thanks to your ideas. I love love love all of these scenarios for a long wall, Laurel, especially the board with your face in the painting and the mirrors from your bathroom, which are also totally drool-worthy. So thank you again for sharing your talents. They do influence us – You are The Best!

  9. These are beautiful. I’d love a post along the same lines but about long hallway walls. We have a long (reasonably wide) center hallway in our house and right now it’s pretty blank on the one side because I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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