Designing Around a Bowling Alley Room


Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I get to take a vacation from interiors and blogging. We are spending the summer at my Mom’s house until we make our final move to South Carolina and when I am here I am almost always put to work. This time I am tackling the room Mom (not so fondly) refers to as the “bowling alley.”


Let me explain the reason for this oddly shaped room. This is a picture is of the exterior of the house which originally was two single “shotgun” houses.  The shotguns are each 14′ wide and about 45′ long with 11′ ceiling and three large connecting rooms. When the houses were built around 1900 they had a drive that ran between them. In later years as the family that owned them grew the lay out changed a bit and the houses were connected by a center room to make one large house. This new connecting room is 10-9″ x 26′ with 8′ ceilings, as you can imagine this poses a lot of design issues. On top of shape difficulties there are also a function difficulties. For our family this space also needs to be flexible. Though usually used only by my parents at times it is also occupied by all their children and grandchildren. Twelve adults and seven children in all. Quite a crowd for this little room!

Have a closer look at the space…

Both ends of the room have french doors but the room is otherwise windowless which means that lighting is an issue. By the way, the “boob” lights are on the “must go” list.

The far end of the room we would like to utilize for more seating. It had a large chase lounge at one time but with seating for only one it took up too much space and was not flexible when seating needed to be moved around for a larger group. We also need to add a storage and display piece for DVD’s and blankets as well as Mom’s collection of oddities. Finally, smaller comfortable seating that will accommodate more people and can be moved easily is a must.


The opposite end of the room is used for dining since this end connects directly to the kitchen through a wide opening. Mom has a table the folds down very small but will extend to 8′ when the crowd arrives.


The table in the kitchen is used for daily eating and as a “children’s table” when the grand-kids are here.

The “boob” light must go on this end of the room too but here the dining table is definitely asking for a chandelier.


Mid-room things will mostly remain the same since there is not much that can be rearranged with the TV on one wall and the sofa on the opposite wall. Two of my previous projects, the reclaimed mantel and mirror gallery, will stay put but the side tables and accessories are up for debate.

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Now that you have seen the space lets recap the goals:

  • Make the limited space work better for a large crowd
  • Bring in more lighting.
  • Bring in furniture that is smaller and more flexible.
  • Provide storage and display space.

There may be bigger projects in the future like replacing the flooring or opening up the entry into the kitchen for more space, but for now we are just trying to make the space work better through cosmetic and furniture changes. I’ll be sharing post’s in the future on all this progress but for now, let the games begin…


  1. The exterior of this house is like BONKERS cute, and the mirror gallery wall has major game, too! (Want to steer clear of any comments here that could begin with “Your momma”…) The plan sounds great–looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

    • Britt, What’s really bonkers is that for all the color on the outside the house is almost all white on the inside. I am the opposite in my love of color but we still have fun hunting for great finds even if our styles are a bit different.

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