14 Awkward Living Room Design Challenges and Their Solutions

split-level living dining room with a grey sofa facing two leather armchairs

At Modsy, we love helping our customers take on the many challenges of interior design. The most common room our customers struggle with? The living room. Since they’re usually at the top of the list in terms of rooms to decorate, we’ve encountered our fair share of awkward living room designs and helped our customers find solutions for them.

Awkward living room layouts come in all shapes and sizes—from slanted walls to tiny spaces, we’ve designed it all. The living room is the hub of the house, but when it’s oddly shaped or has quirky features, it can feel impossible to make it work with the living room furniture and style you want. That’s why we’re rounding up some of the most common design challenges right here in one place. Read on for some great living room layout guides and awkward living room design solutions!

Read Next: Check out our living room checklist for all of your must-have living room furniture pieces.

attic loft design with sloped ceilings, two sofas, and a TV

1. An Attic Loft Living Space

This attic loft is a funky, cool space with a ton of low-key hangout potential. The slanted ceilings create an immediately cozy vibe, and the big window at the back of the room lets in a lot of natural light for sunny afternoon reading and naps. However, sloped ceilings do tend to make for pretty awkward living room designs.

The key here is to find living room furniture that will accommodate the short and slanted walls—but this can be a challenge. It can be equally tough to fit everything in without making the room feel too cluttered and cramped.

To make the most of this awkward living room design, we went with a double sofa layout. The seating is super comfy and geared toward chatting and lounging, but the design also makes it easy to watch TV. We added a small desk in the back corner and propped artwork against the wall to make the most of the limited wall space.

See More Attic Layouts

awkward long and narrow living room design with a sectional and two poufs

2. A Long and Narrow Living Room with Full Walls of Windows

If you have a long and narrow space like this one—which stretches lengthwise, with two full walls of windows and one side open to the rest of the home—you might be struggling to find the right layout and furniture.

Often, a long, narrow space doesn’t leave you with a ton of layout options. In a space like this, if you want a comfortable room with plenty of seating for watching TV, the TV will probably only fit on one wall, which limits your layout options. But if you don’t need TV to be the focal point, use the awkward living room design to your advantage and create a cozy space to read, cuddle up, and relax—TV watching optional. 

We found a large comfy sectional that fits perfectly against two walls for an extra cozy feel. And instead of a traditional coffee table, we used two poufs that can double as extra seating/footrests. They take up the same amount of space, but provide so much more in the way of function—a must-have for all awkward living room designs!

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split-level living space with a sofa and two chairs below and a modern dining room above

3. Split-Level Living and Dining Room

This split-level living and dining space is awesome because you get a living room and dining space with an open, airy flow. It’s an awesome set-up for those who love entertaining but this unusual space can also be an awkward room to design.

A split-level room means you are left with a quirky half-wall, and this is the greatest design challenge to contend with. Consider placing shorter furniture against this wall, so as to not draw attention to it. Here we opted for a bench but you could also try a credenza for extra storage.

We arranged the living room furniture in a conversational layout, with a tailored look that’s equally great for both casual hangs and more formal dinner parties. The polished color palette ties both rooms together for a cohesive look. And the sofa and facing chairs make for easy conversation while the bench against the partition wall maximizes that tricky wall space.

More Layouts For This Room

small living room design decorated in modern rustic decor

4. Super Small Apartment Living Room

The architectural details of this space beg to be used for entertaining, But the main issue here is, of course, size. We needed to maximize the space to make room for chilling out, entertaining, watching TV, functional storage, and more. And we also wanted it to look good!

We gave this space plenty of seating and a style that is small-space friendly. This design works because it allows for open traffic flow into the room and leaves plenty of space to navigate around furniture. The sofa has a built-in side table so you can skip the extra piece of furniture, and the wall-mounted desk and bookcase combo offers plenty of convenient storage to free up more floor space.

More Layouts For This Room

oversized living room with a large, 3-piece sectional sofa

5. A Wide Open Living Room

This living room is HUGE, with a beautiful fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows on every wall—design features that are highly sought after but also present their own challenges. With windows on every wall, landing on a furniture layout is extra difficult.

We addressed this conundrum by embracing the idea of floating furniture—aka pulling furniture away from your walls and letting it “float” in the middle of the room. Here, we floated a huge sectional sofa in the center of the room. This helps fill the space and also makes for killer TV viewing. Pulling the sofa away from the walls is a great interior design solution for the windows, too. And, the room is big enough to add a cozy convo circle around the fireplace and a tucked-away space for kids to play—giving you multiple uses in one space.

See More Large Room Layouts

long living room open to the dining room and kitchen. A beige sectional divides the space into separate areas

6. A Long, Open Living and Dining Room

This open-flow space is long and airy—but there’s so much space you might not know where to start, especially if you want to create distinct spaces for lounging and dining in a space like this. When creating this open living/dining room layout guide, we wanted to make sure the space also had adequate seating and functional traffic flow to get the most use out of the space.

To address these challenges, we created a layout that features a relaxed and inviting space with both a formal dining room and a loungey living space. The sectional sofa offers plenty of seating and the back of the sofa acts as a partition between the two “zones” of the room. But it still feels open to the dining area and kitchen, with a coordinating color scheme to tie together the two spaces.

More Layouts For This Room

small awkward living room with one window, a sectional sofa, and a TV

7. A Petite Living Room with Multiple Doorways

When you have a small living room, it can be challenging to find a layout that gives you all the functionality you need in this type of space. And when the space also has multiple doorways to other spaces in your home, it can feel extra challenging.

The best solution here is to use living room furniture that’s proportionate to the space—so, go for an apartment-sized sofa, a smaller media console, an open and airy coffee table, and small poufs as extra seating options. And, if you’re looking to maximize storage space in your small living room, try wall-mounted bookcases. They take up less floor space than a typical bookcase while still offering a space for organization and display.

See 3 Small Room Layouts

living room design with slanted walls and a small desk area

8. An Awkward Living Room With Angled Walls

While we’re really digging this modern and edgy space, designing it posed a bit of a challenge since the walls are set at less-than-right angles. Slanted walls?? Talk about an awkward element to design around! The quirky, awkward room shape creates lots of hard-to-handle nooks and crannies that can be difficult to fill without the space looking hodge-podge.

We opted for a conversational layout in this space with a sofa and armchair for more seating versatility. It offers a comfortable space for lounging, working, playing and watching TV. This arrangement uses one of the small, awkward corners as a sunny home for plants, which helps brighten the space and detract from the weird angle. We also included a desk/workspace to maximize the functionality of the room.

More Angled Room Layouts

living room with 5 walls, a fireplace, and a modern decor scheme

9. A Small Living Room with a Fireplace and Five Walls

Not having a lot of space doesn’t have to be a buzzkill, but it does mean you might have to get creative with your design choices. This modern living room design makes great use of a small space, with tons of hangout room and lots of comfy seating. But the challenges don’t stop at a small space for this living room. This space also has a small fifth wall! This can be an imposing shape to work with, along with the challenge of having lots of doors and windows to work around.

Read Next: The Modsy Layout Guide for Designing a Living Room with a Fireplace

This design works because it features a cozy sofa and extra comfortable chairs that optimize TV viewing but also make for easy conversation. Small space solutions help fill out awkward spots, like wall-mounted bookcases adding vertical storage along a narrow wall and the two poufs adding seating options without taking up a bunch of floor space. And the short, fifth wall is easily integrated into the design of the space by hanging curtains that match the others in the room and placing a large plant in front of the window-wall to fill out the space!

More Layouts For This Room

eclectic living room design with a gray sofa and gallery wall that makes use of an awkward space

10. A Small Living/Dining Room With a Slanted Wall

The awkward living room design challenge here was working with a funky, narrow room with an awkward, slanted corner. Maximizing a small, narrow space can be tough—especially when you want both a living room area and a separate dining space.

bird's eye view of an awkward living room room layout

To make the awkward, acute corner work, we pulled two armchairs up perpendicular to the sofa. This creates a functional living room set-up and also visually “squares-off” the back corner. Then we popped a few potted plants in the corner to round it off and make it functional.

Explore 2 Ideas For This Room

huge living space with a large sectional placed in front of a TV

11. A Large, Rectangular Living Room

This rectangular space is large and open—a great quality in a living room, but also a challenge in terms of filling out the space. A room like this needs more than one zone or purpose to best use the large space.

The primary purpose we gave this living room layout was for TV viewing. This is perfect for those who love hosting movie nights or having people over to watch your favorite sports. The large, three-piece sectional grounds this living room and, along with the area rug, defines the TV viewing area.

To further fill out the space, we placed a console against one wall for storage and decor and created a reading nook by the fireplace on the opposite wall. We used furniture to create these distinct zones, but we kept the style and colors cohesive throughout so the room feels like one space rather than multiple disjointed rooms.

Explore 2 Ideas For This Room

awkward living room with a corner fireplace open onto the dining area

12. An Open Living/Dining Room with a Corner Fireplace

A corner fireplace, combined with a full wall of windows, can make furniture layout pretty tricky. On top of that, the living room is open to not only the dining area but also the kitchen—making it one big room with several distinct uses.

The way to tackle this type of space is to work in zones. We opted for a sectional vs sofa to maximize seating without cramming in extra furniture pieces. We then paired the sofa with a console table behind it to act as a visual divider. By floating the sofa and facing it into the living room, we separated the living area from the dining area. Plus, with this layout, there’s an open walking space from one zone to the next.

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living room design with awkwardly high ceilings

13. A Living Room With Vaulted Ceilings

Wondering how to design a living room with high ceilings? We get it. Tall ceilings can be awkward, since we tend to decorate at eye level and below. But that can leave a lot of extra wall and ceiling space when you have 10-foot or vaulted ceilings. In cases like these, we recommend balancing the room layout with the height of the ceiling so it doesn’t feel off-balance.

What better way to balance out tall ceilings than a row of tall bookcases that fills up your empty wall space? The living room shelves pictured here function as practical storage while minimizing the cavernous look of the tall walls. It’s a great use of vertical and horizontal space—giving you both storage and a focal point that connects the lower half of the room with the upper ceiling.

Shop This Room

open living room with a fireplace and awkward set-up for TV viewing

14. An Open Living Room with No Solid Walls

This living room doesn’t have many solid walls that you can put furniture against, which can make creating a functional layout feel daunting. Where do you put furniture that looks intentional rather than awkward?

In these cases, we recommend pulling furniture away from the walls and floating pieces to create a seating area “shell” within the space. Use an area rug to establish and anchor the furniture grouping. This helps the space feel less open and awkward and instead feel more cozy and purposeful. Then, bundle the furniture together, creating a seating area somewhat centered around the fireplace. This makes conversation the primary purpose of this living room, while a TV and console on the one solid wall still allows for TV viewing. (Bonus: the accent chairs are swivel chairs, so they can turn around for additional TV-viewing seating.) As you arrange your living room layout, keep a walking area around the furniture to make moving through the space easy.

See Layouts for TV Viewing

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This post was updated May 20, 2021

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