Interior Design for Living: Finding a solution to long family room

By SUSAN GILL SPELLMEYER

Q: I am in dire need of some help with my family room.

Currently, I have a sofa along the wall opposite the sliding doors. There's an end table on either side with a lamp on each. In front of the sofa is a rectangular coffee table.

To the right of the fireplace is a chair with low, narrow shelves behind it On the other end of the room, to the right of the sliding doors, is another chair. Behind that I have a corner bookcase.

I need to buy new furniture and very much like the idea of a sectional. I don't want something that's going to "cut" the room, but realize that the arrangement I have now emphasizes the long, narrow space, which I don't want to do again.

The furniture I want to keep is the chair by the fireplace with the shelves behind it, and the corner bookcase. The end table and lamps can stay or go.

Also, the traffic pattern from the garage to the kitchen is very heavy, I would like to carpet the family room, but know that it would be soiled within no time. The kitchen has a vinyl floor which will be replaced with a polyurethaned floor of oak strips, but wood in the family room would be too cold.

I have been putting off redecorating this room for a long time because I didn't know what to do with it. Now I have to make a decision.

I am certain that you couldn't possibly answer every letter that you receive, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A: You certainly are correct that it is impossible to answer every letter, even though I wish that I could. I do, however, read every piece of corre­spondence and then try to address common problems in my column. As for your question, the long, be answered, often the basic principles and ideas can be adapted where appropriate.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that every question is appreciated and considered, even though it may not appear directly in the column. As for your question, the long, narrow room is a decorating night­mare for many people. Most would arrange their furniture in a very similar fashion to what you have currently.

In graphing it, I left the low shelves and chair by the fireplace, and added a standing lamp. I also left the comer bookcase in the only corner (that was easy).

Next, I addressed the issue of how to solve the traffic pattern problem, and also add some warmth to the room. You mentioned that you were going to replace your vinyl kitchen floor with wood. Considering that, I would use the same polyurethaned oak strips and angle them from the garage door to the edge of the planter.

Using another type of flooring there, other than wood, would not work as well because it would not flow smooth­ly. Wall-to-wall carpeting can then be butted to the angled strip oak. Doing this should solve both problems, as well as being attractive.

Then I followed the angle of the new flooring and side wall with a sectional that would seat five people comforta­bly. Behind the angled portion, I put a 48-inch sofa table with a lamp for reading. This would also serve as a place to put things when coming in from the garage.

I used one end table and lamp on the far end of the sectional, next to the built-in wall units.

For fun and function, I designed two triangular bunching tables to be used in place of one large coffee table. They can be separated and used individually anywhere in the room as needed.

I think the arrangement of furniture in the room detracts from the long, narrow space, but also doesn't cut the room visually. In addition, I feel that because it's more unusual, it's more interesting.

I hope you agree, and now you can get busy ordering your new furniture.