A combined living room and dining room, often known as a great room, offers the homeowner a large space for entertaining and casual living, and is common in contemporary architecture. This large space can cause decorating headaches, however, as one large room must fill many roles and functions. Make a plan for functional, attractive decor based on how you use the rooms most often.
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If the great room is overwhelming, consider breaking it down into smaller zones defined by furniture placement. For example, the dining area might have a table and chairs, buffet, china cabinet, sideboard or other furniture; arrange the pieces to create a more intimate dining space and counteract the size of the great room. Create a conversation grouping in the living area with sofas, chairs and accent tables, and set it off with an area rug. If there are children in the home, consider an activity or toy corner as another zone in the room.
The size of a great room can result in a cold, overwhelming space. Use colour to create a more welcoming area,. Large spaces can tolerate darker shades than smaller spaces can, so this is an opportunity to use rich colours on the walls and in upholstery and window fabrics. Warm, bold shades such as olive, burgundy, chocolate, deep red and gold visually bring in the walls and warm a large room. If the ceiling is vaulted, painting it a muted variation of the wall colour instead of white can help make the room's proportions appear more even.
The flooring in a great room needs to accommodate the various uses of the room. The floor must withstand high traffic, food and moisture while maintaining comfort and appearance. Common flooring choices for great rooms include hardwood, laminate, tile and carpet. Area and throw rugs can help define spaces within the great room, while runners add protection for high-traffic areas. Consider varying the flooring within the great room to further define the zones, such as using tile in the dining room and hardwood or carpet in the living area.
Standard overhead lighting is often inadequate for a great room, particularly if it has a vaulted ceiling. Instead, use chandeliers and pendant lights to bring the lighting closer to living areas. Supplement with task lighting, such as a pendant over the dining table and floor lamps or table lamps near the sofa. Recessed and track lighting can add ambience to and accent architectural features of the room.
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