AFTER: Designer Alison Naden opens up the room — and the possibilities — for a long, narrow and uninspiring space. (Sketch by Julius Goyanko/For The Washington Post)


“My living room is bland and could use a lot of work,” wrote Michelle Ferng about the main living space in her D.C. apartment. “There is so much potential, but I don’t even know where to start.”


By rearranging the floor plan, designer Alison Naden opens up the room and the possibilities for this long, narrow and uninspiring space. (Click through the before-and-after photos above and read the captions for more information.)

Move the dining table closer to the kitchen to make serving more convenient.

Newbury desk ($1,500,; AKA chair in blue ($575, (SPLURGE)

Place the sofa against the wall to open up the room and make it more welcoming.

Use a swivel chair instead of a love seat for extra seating; it can face the TV or the conversation area.

Create a reading nook where the dining table used to be. A pendant adds focused task lighting.

Hang sheer panels to soften the reading nook and make the windows seem larger than they are.

Paint the living room Bleeker Beige and the nook Copper Mountain, both by Benjamin Moore.

Move the TV to the opposite wall so it’s no longer a focal point.

Designer Alison Naden, of Loudoun Modern (703-447-6688), is based in Purcellville.



Camden sofa in Walden ($1,100,

Amos chair in Tatum spice ($850,

Ventura cocktail table ($700,

Zebra side table ($400,

High Hat brass table ($400,


Tripod floor lamp ($395,

Navarra one-light pendant ($200,


Villagio rug (starts at $429,

Orbit mirrored wall decor ($775,

Picture ledges in walnut (starts at $79,

Boulogne ribbon and shell sheers, 96-inch ($69 per panel,