Designing a home can be challenging, especially when you have to work with awkward spaces. Certain areas like narrow hallways, angled corners, and sloped ceilings can make it difficult to utilize the space efficiently and make it feel cohesive. With some clever design solutions, you can transform even the trickiest spaces into beautiful and functional parts of your home. Here are design solutions for 11 tricky spaces:

1. Narrow Hallways

Narrow hallways are one of the most common tricky spaces in homes. The limited width makes it hard to use the hallway for anything beyond getting from point A to point B. Here are some ideas to make the most of a skinny hallway:

Use Light Colors

Painting the walls and ceiling with light, airy colors like white or light grey will instantly make a narrow hallway feel more open and spacious. Dark colors have a closing-in effect.

Add Mirrors

Strategically placed mirrors will visually double the space. You can hang a full-length mirror at one end and a smaller decorative mirror on another wall. The reflection creates the illusion of a wider passage.

Built-In Storage

Take advantage of all that vertical space by installing shelving, cabinetry or cupboards flush against the walls. This allows you to stash items neatly out of the way. Floating shelves take up zero floor space.

Skip the Clutter

A cramped hallway quickly gets messy if you try to stuff too much in it. Keep décor minimal and move most of the accessories to other rooms. Only keep what you need in the hall like coats, umbrellas, keys etc.


Proper lighting is key in a narrow hallway. Install sconces or overhead fixtures to brightly illuminate the path. Accent lighting directed towards architectural details also helps expand the feel.


Laying a runner rug the length of the hallway helps define the walking path. It also makes the space feel warmer and less sterile. Opt for a narrow rug that still allows enough floor to peek through on both sides.

2. Angled Corners

Angled corners with two walls meeting at an acute angle can throw off furniture placement and make the space awkward. Here are some tips for handling angled corners:

Float Furniture in the Corner

Rather than pushing furniture flush into the corner, float pieces out onto the angled walls. This opens up floor space in the corner for walking past or accessing doors and windows.

Try Round Furniture

The soft curves of a round table or chair complement the dynamic angles nicely. Circular pieces don’t have to fit snugly into a corner.

Diagonal Bookcase

Install shelving or a bookcase diagonally across the corner to utilize all the space. This creates dimension and symmetry with the existing angles.

Add Architectural Interest

Leaving the corner empty, highlight it with wallpaper, wainscoting, or a different paint color than the walls. This treats the angle as an intentional detail.

Curved Partitions

Divide the space with a curved partition wall or textile screen. The arched shape softens the hard corners and adds visual interest.

3. Under Stair Spaces

The empty area under a stairway is essentially wasted real estate in most homes. With a little creativity, you can transform this unused zone into a functional nook.

Storage Shelving

This is likely the most practical way to utilize under stair space. Custom built-in shelving perfectly exploits the odd angles. It’s great for stashing items like luggage, sports gear, tools, seasonal items etc. You can even add doors to conceal the clutter.

Home Office Nook

Under stair cubbyholes make charming little office spaces. You can fit in a small desk and chair or even just use it for filing cabinets. Add a lightweight stool that tucks under when not in use.

Reading Nook

Make a cozy reading nook by placing a cushy chair, ottoman, side table and lamp under the stairs. Hang a pendant light overhead for illumination and top with a decorative throw blanket. Add a low bookcase for books.

Play Space

Little kids will love having their own special under-stair play nook. Set up a pint-sized table and chairs, storage for toys, perhaps a small chalkboard or magnetic dry erase board for drawing. Decorate with whimsical details.

Dog House

Give your pooch their own stair step den complete with a plush bed, water bowl, small gate and maybe a few toys. This gets them out from underfoot without fully banishing them from the action.

4. Sloped Ceilings

Dealing with slanted ceilings or eaves in an attic, upstairs room or basement requires getting creative with furniture placement and storage solutions. Here are some tips:

Section Off Space

Divide the room into usable spaces, keeping furnishings only in the areas with adequate ceiling height. You can use screens, curtains, partial walls or bookcases to define different zones.

Skip Tall Furniture

Forgo furniture that is too tall for the space like oversized wardrobes, tall bookcases, canopy beds, etc. Opt for low-profile beds, shorter shelving units and dressers to fit under the sloped sides.

Add Skylights

Installing skylights along the central peak of the ceiling allows more natural light to enter the room through the higher sloped sides. This makes the space feel brighter and less closed in.

Incorporate Architectural Elements

Accentuate the dramatic angles with architectural details like exposed beams, tongue-and-groove wood paneling or wood cladding on the sloped walls. Paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls.

Adjust Window Treatments

Hang curtains rods higher and wider to draw the eye up. Custom drapes tailored to the ceiling line add style while downplaying the sloped shape. Suspended rods work for slight angles.

5. Alcoves

Random alcoves are another common interior design challenge. Turn these recessed nooks into functional spaces with these ideas:

Mini Home Office

A desk, chair and some shelving fit nicely into most alcoves to create a workspace. Add a bulletin board, pinboard or magnetic paint to utilize vertical wall space for staying organized.

Breakfast Nook

Alcoves located off the kitchen or dining room make perfect breakfast nooks. Add a small cafe table and a couple chairs or a padded bench. Include storage like a hutch for tableware.

Cozy Reading Nook

Maximize an alcove as a reading spot with a comfy arm chair or loveseat, side table, floor lamp and bookshelves. To make it extra cozy, install mini curtains or add molding to frame it out.

Bar Area

Turn a kitchen or dining room alcove into a wet bar by installing floating shelves, pendant lighting and bar stools. Use it for serving drinks and small plates during gatherings.

Display Niche

Illuminate display niches to show off treasured collectibles, plants, artwork or photos. For an eclectic gallery wall effect, add small shelves at varying heights to hold assorted objects.

6. Oddly Shaped Rooms

Rooms with unusual shapes like octagons, wide but shallow spaces or those with awkward architecture call for creative furnishings and layouts:

Divide Into Zones

Use area rugs, different floor treatments or partial screens to divide oddly shaped rooms into separate functional zones for sitting, sleeping, dining etc. This helps break up the irregularity.

Strategic Furniture Placement

Arrange seating to promote conversation by facing chairs towards one another rather than lining them up against the walls. Place furniture to balance out any extremely wide or deep parts of the room.

Minimize Clutter

Oddly shaped rooms appear even more chaotic with lots of furnishings and accessories competing for attention. Edit down to simpler, multipurpose furniture and neutral décor to let the architecture shine.

Accentuate Architectural Details

Play up whatever unique architectural features the space offers, like niches, dormers or bay windows. Highlight these with lighting, art, plants or conversation groupings.

Repurpose Pass-Through Areas

For wide rooms with doorways at opposite ends, make use of the “pass-through” space in the center. Float a console table here or add an entryway furniture arrangement.

7. Large Entryways

You don’t want cavernous foyers and entry halls to feel cold and empty. Here are ideas for giving them purpose:

Entryway Furniture

Outfit the space with an entry table or console, mirror, storage bench, coat hooks or racks, umbrella stand, wall shelves etc. This defines the purpose right when you walk in.

Seating Area

Place chairs or a loveseat near the entry, ideally facing inward towards the home’s interior. This invites guests to sit and chat as they arrive and don’t block paths of travel.

Accent Area Rugs

Area rugs help segment large foyers into designated spaces like a seating zone and a walkway area for foot traffic entering and exiting. Choose a bold pattern or color.

Vintage Trunk as Coffee Table

A vintage trunk doubles as décor and functional coffee table in an entry seating nook. The rugged, worn patina adds character. Use the storage for stashing remotes, books and more.

Mirrors & Art

Outfit the walls with oversized statement mirrors to reflect light around the big space. Hang a gallery wall with a mix of framed art and photos for visual interest.

8. Walk-In Closets

For oversized walk-in closets, avoid a sea of monotonous hanging racks and make smart use of all the available space:

Central Island

A central closet island provides compartments for folded clothes, drawers for undergarments, jewelry space and more. It also breaks up the expansive space.

Adjustable Shelving

Install shelves at multiple heights to hold sweaters, bags, shoes and seasonal items. This utilizes vertical real estate and gets things up off the floor. Using adjustable shelves allows customization.

Drawers & Pull-Outs

Take advantage of all wall space with built-ins like drawers, cabinets and pull-out racks on casters. These corral items that don’t need to hang like belts, scarves and ties.

Sitting Area

Carve out space for a small chair or ottoman. This gives you a place to sit while getting dressed or putting on shoes and makes the closet feel homier.

Proper Lighting

Make sure lighting is ample and evenly distributed, using overhead fixtures, sconces and accent lighting. Illumination is key for seeing everything in a vast closet.

9. Long, Narrow Rooms

Working with a bowling alley style room that is much longer than it is wide can be tricky. Here are layout ideas:

Divide Into Zones

Break up the space by defining separate activity areas for TV watching, dining, office etc. Floating bookshelves, area rugs and lighting help delineate the zones.

Furniture Against Walls

Avoid floating furniture in the center which makes traffic flow awkward. Keep furnishings along the perimeter to open up floor space. Float only smaller accent pieces like chairs and ottomans.

Section With a Console

Place a narrow console or sofa table perpendicular to the length of the room. This helps divide the space both visually and functionally.

Minimize Entryways

If there are doors at either end, try to primarily use just one so you don’t constantly walk through the full length. This allows better furniture placement.

Repeating Elements

Use consistent design elements throughout like identical lamps, chairs or accent pillows. Visually repeating materials helps unite the whole space.

10. L-Shaped Rooms

L-shaped rooms present challenges but the two wings can also work independently. Try these tips:

Float Furniture

Allow conversation groupings and furnishings to float out onto the open floor rather than cramming them into the corners and angles. This opens up the irregular space.

Define Zones

Use the L-shape’s natural segmentation to delineate different zones like media/entertainment, dining, study etc. Area rugs and lighting emphasize the separate spaces.

Maximize Corners

Take advantage of unused corner space to tuck away furniture like bookshelves, filing cabinets or hutches. Floating corner shelves also work well.

Section Off Dead Ends

If there are any narrow dead-end spaces, partition them off as closets, storage or extra shelving. This helps give purpose to awkward angles.

Furniture Layout

Arrange seating in a U-shape that utilizes both arms of the L-shape rather than lining up furnishings against each long wall which exaggerates the length.

11. Windowless Rooms / Basements

Rooms deprived of natural light present obstacles but the below tactics prevent them from feeling too dark or cave-like:


Proper lighting is imperative! Use abundant layered overhead fixtures, accent, task and ambient lighting to illuminate every corner. Dimmer switches allow adjusting brightness.


Mirrors instantly brighten up dark spaces by reflecting and amplifying what light is available. Place near light sources for maximum effect.

Neutral Color Palette

Stick to light, neutral paint colors for the walls, ceiling and furnishings. Dark tones will only make a windowless space feel more closed in. White, soft grey and beige open up the room.

Glossy Surfaces

Incorporate surfaces with some shine like polished wood flooring, metal finishes and glossy tile. Subtly reflective materials help bounce the light around.

Plants & Greenery

Houseplants bring life and freshness into rooms lacking natural light and views. Cluster in corners and install shelving for displaying greenery.

Vastu Shastra Remedies

As per this traditional Indian practice, you can add air and light elements like crystals, candles, salt lamps and running water fountains. Place mirrors facing outward to deflect negative energy.


With careful space planning and strategic furnishings, you can conquer even the most challenging room layouts and architectural quirks. Use lighting, mirrors and neutral colors to open up narrow and windowless spaces. Divide outsized areas into functional zones. Take advantage of the segmented layouts created by angles and alcoves. Where you have dead space, add storage. The key is finding creative ways to make the existing architecture work for your lifestyle.

FAQs about Design Solutions for Tricky Home Spaces

Designing, furnishing and decorating tricky home spaces comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some frequently asked questions about dealing with oddly shaped rooms and other quirky architectural features:

How can I make a long, narrow room feel less bowling alley-like?

  • Divide it into separate zones using area rugs, partial screens or floating shelves as dividers
  • Arrange furniture along the walls, not down the middle
  • Add repeating elements like matching lamps, art and throw pillows for continuity
  • Use consistent flooring to visually unite the space

What type of furniture works best in rooms with sloped ceilings?

Lower-profile furnishings like platform beds, short bookshelves and compact dressers fit best under angled ceilings and eaves. Avoid tall wardrobes and bookcases which will overwhelm. Custom-built cabinetry shaped to match the ceilings is ideal.

How can I decorate the awkward empty space under my stairs?

Under-stair spaces are perfect for built-in storage like shelving or cabinetry to stash items out of the way. Or create a cozy reading nook with a chair, ottoman and side table. A tiny workspace, play area for kids or even a dog bed also work well.

What is the best way to arrange furniture in an L-shaped room?

Float pieces out from the corners rather than cramming them in. Use the natural segmentation to define different zones like media, dining etc. Avoid furniture lined up on both sides which over accentuates the length. Angle seating in a U-shape.

How can I make a dark room without windows feel brighter and less gloomy?

Maximize lighting, especially overhead. Paint the walls, ceilings and trim a light neutral color to open up the space. Incorporate reflective surfaces like glossy floors, metal finishes and mirrors. Add floor and table lamps for warmth. Houseplants bring life!

What type of window treatments work best for oddly shaped windows?

For angled windows, choose wider rods that extend beyond the width of the window to soften the shape. Hang drapes higher to draw the eye up. Custom treatments tailored to the exact window lines integrate the angles. Curtains that fully cover the window help downplay odd shapes.

How can I make a cramped, narrow hallway feel more spacious?

Paint walls and ceilings light colors. Hang a full-length mirror which visually doubles space. Recess shelving and cabinetry into the walls for concealed storage. Skip clutter and accessories. Install sconces to brightly illuminate. Lay a runner rug lined up with the walking path.

What is the best way to arrange furniture in a room with angled, chopped-off corners?

Float pieces out onto the open floor rather than tucking into corners. Round shapes like oval or circular tables and curved sectional sofas complement the angles. Leave corners empty to highlight architectural details like wallpaper.

How can I decorate a large, cavernous entryway or foyer?

Add an entry table or console, wall hooks and a storage bench to define the space and provide function. Include seating like chairs or a small sofa to invite guests to linger. Scatter area rugs to segment the space. Hang abundant art for visual interest.

How do I maximize storage in an oversized walk-in closet?

Built-in closets systems allow customization and optimal use of space. Install shelves at multiple heights to use vertical real estate. Add a central island with drawers, compartments and open shelving on all sides. Incorporate cabinets, drawers and pull-outs on the walls.


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