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The creative urge to have a nice layout in my living room keeps calling me. The room is a decent size as the former owners removed the partition separating it from the family room. The challenge is, how to do it tastefully and still have "living" room. My only brainstorm thus far is to utilize corners where space is generally had and not used efficiently, but that doesn't leave much other than a small town with a trolley run. But maybe that'd be neat enough.

Has anyone addressed the urge to have a train layout in their living room? What could be neater, as friends and family relax, and watch trains, but not have them be the centerpiece? I'd love to see pictures of what you've done.

Last edited by Paul Kallus
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My 'test track' loop runs around the perimeter of my living room on a combination of 3"wide lumber supported by 1x2's and somewhat wider 072 curve modules cut with a battery-powered jigsaw from 3/4" plywood. I don't know if you can call that much of a layout (there's no scenery, and the only yard is a three-track affair atop a cabinet housing a 1960's style stereo/turntable left by the previous owners). But I can at least run trains on it


We live in a small house that has an open "great room" - living room, dining room, and kitchen all together.  For a few years, I had my windup layout in one corner of the dining area.  It worked well for us at the time, but eventually my wife decided she wanted to rearrange some areas of the house, and I traded my space in the dining area in exchange for the storage room - a good move since I gained some usable square footage and display space.  Here is a picture of the layout taking up most of two walls in the dining area:

Layout2018Feb16 [1024x576)


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No offense to John, but I'm not personally a fan of ceiling layouts.  Unless you have low ceilings, a wide room, or an elevated seating area, the viewing angle means that you won't be able to see much of the trains, or any scenery that you might be inclined to add.  I also haven't seen a ceiling layout that provides any kind of varied operation beyond parking one train and running another, and running in circles will get boring fast.  Access is difficult, even if you just want to change out the consist.  Like I said, I'm just not a fan.

I live in the Land of No Basements, and sacrificed one of my 3 bedrooms to get the 11'5" x 18' that I have.  Because I needed a home office AND a guest room for long-term visitors, I paid a carpenter to build a Murphy bed AND a Murphy desk in the 2nd bedroom.  So now that room can be an office or a bedroom, just not both at the same time!  If you have an extra bedroom, maybe my Murphy solution will work for you!

I would avoid the living room, so that leaves the den.  I'm not sure about your room dimensions, but I endorse the idea of a corner layout.  If you go this route, I suggest a long point-to-point built on shelves along the walls, with loops at each end.  I would use the absolute smallest radius that you can tolerate, probably O36, or even O31.

What kind of trains do you have?  For many years I bought only "scale," including about 20 large mainline steam locos.  Within the last decade I've come to the unfortunate realization that, as nice as they are, they just aren't house-friendly.  Disclaimer: I'm not a "modeler;" I've never painted or weathered anything!  So even if I had more room, I'm not sure that the resulting layout would be more realistic.  Once I accepted the necessity of sharp curves, traditional-sized trains and structures, I've been able to come up with plenty of interesting layout designs.

I empathize with you and I know this process can entail difficult choices.  Good luck in your decision process!

Last edited by Ted S

IMG_5832We have our layout in the 12’ x 16’ train shed we built in the back yard for that purpose.
However, I had some surgeries 4-5 years ago and my wife suggested we have another layout in our front room so that I could more easily run a train whenever I wanted to.

So I built a 4’ x 4’ small layout using 027 track and switches from my early days as a kid. We decided to make it a mid 1950’s style Lionel layout. I run my first train set I got in 1956 (Lionel 1615 switcher work train) and a re-creation of my brother’s set that he got that year (Lionel 520 and cars). We put the layout on our antique oak kitchen table in the front room. It also serves as our Xmas train.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!



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Last edited by WP

Our plan for constructing a 30' X 80' building on our lot for the layout was interfered with by accelerated parental issues, so we may not be in this home long term.  It didn't make sense to me, as much as I wanted it to, to construct a building and then planning  on moving during layout construction.

So the solution was to build a layout in our living room that we rarely used.  We, along with our visitors, hang out in the Great Room / kitchen or backyard by the pool so it was a convenient solution.  It's been slow progress as I attempt to scale down the track plan from the outbuilding I had designed for.  It is 17' X 14' around the room plan where I will try to shoehorn my Ross turntable in the center.  I'm lobbying for encroaching into the dining room to make it 17' X 28' but my negotiations have stalled.

Here is the room after clearing out the furniture.


Mianne Benchwork construction.


Lift bridge in place.



As I drag my feet with construction, Manny and Zoey use the layout as their hideout and playground!



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  • 2DC72B1A-85F1-4F5A-807B-B1F3A08A4390

When I moved from an apartment to a i970's ranch I looked for one with an living/dining room layout.  This became my train room.  The family room and an extra large kitchen make do.  I built a 28' by 14' around the wall with center peninsula.  Unfortunately the trainroom is just now recovering from being used as a storeroom due to Michael.


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