Designing Your Great Room

by Rachel Laurendeau on March 26, 2012

Many homes today appeal to our desire for informal family living space by including a great room. Essentially, great rooms are open plan areas within the home that typically include the living room, dining room and kitchen. This type of layout can be great for casual entertaining and conducive to family life by bringing everyone together in one large space.

However, great rooms pose their own challenges when it comes to decorating. How to make it feel cohesive while still allowing the room to play all of its different roles?


Since this is all one big open space, when designing your great room, it is important for the main components to be cohesive. You will want to choose the same flooring throughout to ensure that one area flows into the next. A hardwood floor is a timeless classic that works well in great rooms since it is so versatile and durable. There are so many wood flooring choices today that there is surely something that will appeal to you.

In addition to unified flooring, when choosing paint colors, it is best to work from the same color palette throughout the space. Eggplant in the living room, chartreuse in the kitchen and chocolate brown in the dining room will make you feel like you’ve walked into a funhouse at the fair rather than your home.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with bold colors but try to echo one or two colors throughout the space by using accessories and if you just have to have chocolate brown, then how about using it on one focal wall. Repeating elements such as cabinetry finishes and styles and even light fixtures are other great ways to ensure a unified look and comfortable feel.

Create Separate Areas

You want the distinct areas of your great room to flow together as one, but you don’t want it to feel like a wide-open gymnasium. Without walls to create separation, you have to find other ways to carve out your spaces within the room.  Furniture groupings are the most obvious place to start when laying out your space and dividing it up into different activity areas. Ensure ease of flow from one part of the room to the next by eliminated physical obstructions. Keep large pieces of furniture out of high traffic areas.

Adding area rugs helps to anchor and delineate areas such as the dining room, and lounge and can give a different feel to those groupings. If it is appropriate for you space, you could use a runner rug to indicate pathways as well. Another great way to ground an area is by using specific lighting fixtures; a large hanging fixture in the dining area, pendants over the kitchen island and a floor lamp in the reading nook. Just keep them fairly unified unless you are going for the eclectic look.

In some cases, you’ll want even more of a physical separation, some people choose to use Japanese shoji screens, large plants, pieces of art or even have pony walls built in. These barriers add dimension to the room without carving the house up into tiny rooms.

A great room is a fantastic way to keep the family together and create an interactive home environment. Proper design and layout of your room will make this the most sought-after hangout in the house.

If you found this home improvement blog post interesting, you may also like Log Home Layout.

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