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Decorating & Furniture/Layout for long narrow rooms


Dear Jenny,

I live in Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam, where the typical house is a wierdly shaped "tube" house - very long and narrow (12 ft x 46 ft) with windows only at the front and back.

I would very much appreciate any hints or tips you could give me for making the rooms look nicer (wider)

I have uploaded a floorplans for the ground and upper floors for your convenience:

Any help or tips you could offer would be much appreciated!



Hi Madeleine,

Thanks for your questions, and for sending me the floorplans.  

There are several good points here.  The space is laid out well, considering the natural dividers you're given with the stairwell on each floor.  That deliniates the space well, so you don't have the total open concept problem of defining and enlarging the space.

I see that light is a key factor here for you, so I'm first recommending that you invest in three kinds of lighting:  task - for reading and working on the computer (table lamps); ambient lighting - an overall light source coming down from the ceilings; and mood lighting - to create the feeling of "more space" and soften the edges of the rooms - "up lights", floods and low wattage torchiere lamps.  

If you combine these three forms of lighting, and then add some mirrors (to reflect whatever natural light you have coming in) your space will feel and appear more spacious.  

Up lights are inexpensive (look to or and are great for use in corners, behind plants (to silohette the leaves on the ceiling) and even behind furniture.  These sit on the floor, use 20 or 40 watt bulbs and create immediate and consistent light.  I leave mine on all the time, replacing the bulbs as needed.  

Positioning mirrors or reflective art work where natural light comes in will double the light.  In the kitchen/dining area you may want to use stainless steel which also acts as a natural reflector.  

Lastly, and of course to be used with caution, candles.  The big fat round or square ones burn for hours, create a sense of drama and romance and make everything appear cosier.

Best of luck to you!  Thanks for writing.

PS:  Keep your paint colors in the mid-range.  You do NOT have to use white or off-white, just stay away from extreme darks.  An accent wall done in a darker tone will draw the eye to it.  Remember too - the eye goes to color first.

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Jennifer Taylor Wojcik


Visit my web site at: Decor: I've written about it, planned it, designed it and colored it, and I've never stopped loving it. It's not what you spend, or who made it, it's how it makes you feel.


College, advertising, public relations, marketing, free-lance writing and a plethora of creative endeavors have led me here. As an entrepreneur in decorative product design, I learned the hard way how tough it can be to be in business for yourself. A stint at a law firm taught me humility too. Some three thousand questions ago, I wondered if I could really help. Obviously, I'm still here and still taking your questions. God Bless You!

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BA, Psychology

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