Great rooms are fantastic for family living and for entertaining. They allow families to spend time together, even while family members are engaging in different activities. These days people are getting very creative with how they utilize their great room spaces, integrating playrooms with television and movie watching, video gaming with dining, and entertaining while cooking and prepping meals. Functionally, they are ideal for families who enjoy spending time together while engaging in different activities. However, great rooms can pose some challenges when it comes to decorating and arranging furnishings and distinguishing spaces from one another. Here are a few tips to ensure your great room design is tied together and functions for you and your family:

  • Use furniture to delineate spaces from one another. The first step to creating a functional and well designed great room is to determine the function of your space and to lay out your furniture in order to create flow and delineate the function of each space. It is very important to consider the size and scale of your furniture prior to making any major purchases. Create a floor plan and determine the best size for each piece. Don’t forget to consider heights of the pieces and their placement in relation to sight lines (for example,TV watching from the kitchen, or overseeing toddlers playing while making lunch). Make sure to come up with a clear furniture plan prior that defines the spaces without encroaching on other spaces within the great room.
  • Use multipurpose, multi-functional pieces to integrate storage and other functions. Consider how each area within the great room is to be used and get creative with pieces that could serve multiple functions with the same space. Could a well-designed built-in provide audio/visual storage and toy storage at the same time? Could a certain piece of furniture work as extra seating in the family room when entertaining as well as extra seating in the dining room when dining? Could those storage ottomans double as seating and toy storage? Could a chaise lounge provide comfortable TV watching space and help create another conversation area during large parties? The list could go on and on. Get creative with how you use your furnishings to give them multiple functions and keep clutter to a minimum.
  • Use artwork/accessories to help delineate space from another as well. How you lay out your artwork on a wall could help to define one space from another. A well-placed large piece of art centered on the dining table could delineate the dining area visually while a family photo collage could visually help to define the family room space. Use your vertical space creatively to create visual delineations between functional areas in the great room.
  • Pick a cohesive color/texture scheme that ties the space together but allows for some differentiation. A great room is one large room broken down into varying functions so clearly is important that all of the areas have a cohesive color scheme. However, you can break down that color scheme to help create visual separation between each functional space. For example, your neutral sofa could have colorful accent pillows, as in the case of our Warrenton rustic contemporary space (pictured here). Those accent pillows create a pop of color and define our color scheme for the space. We selected the least represented color in the accent pillows and upholstered the dining chairs in this color, creating another burst of color that is within the scheme but that visually delineates the dining area from the family room space. This creates visual interest while tying the space together.
  • Don’t forget the 5th wall. You know me, I love to accent an interesting ceiling (or to make an uninteresting one more interesting) through the use of paint, wallpaper or in the case or our Warrenton project, wood paneling. The vaulted ceiling was large and created a very boxy feeling in this space. We took a risk and added Stikwood wood paneling in a white washed finish to give it a rustic feel and to add interest and texture to the space. The result is nothing short of dramatic. Great room ceilings are often tall or of varying heights. Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage and to add some creative color, texture or pattern to it to help define the space and add visual drama.

My client and I trying to get a good shot of us with her adorable and very active dogs. They didn’t do too badly. The entire design was made to be very dog friendly as well!

p.s. See more photos of this project here.