Design Direction: Styling a Great Room
Sometimes the most trafficked room in the house can be the hardest to design—
—the more space there is, the harder it is to fill. Great rooms are often a design conundrum, as the open concept leaves little natural direction for where furniture should sit or where the focal point should be. Layering is key, as well as carving out thoughtful, designated areas where certain activities will be done. For instance, a nook for an office or a lounge area around a TV or fireplace.
There are endless ways to configure a great room and each space is different but taking into consideration how our design team has tackled these layouts in the past is a good way to help imagine how your space could be arranged. Here are some of our great rooms of the past and the layouts that brought cohesion into the space.
01 A Focal Line
It’s a designer’s dream when there is a clear, and straight, focal line already built into the architecture of a great room. In our Home on the Bay project, the fireplace was a natural starting point to build the furniture around, as it also mirrored the dividing wall on its opposite side. Shea and the design team broke up the room into two defined sections, living and dining, using rugs to set borders around the separate spaces.
In the living area, the furniture completes three sides of a box, the fireplace being the fourth. For the side of the box adjacent to the fireplace, one large sofa—the Lucille English Roll Arm Sofa from McGee & Co.—was chosen to hold space in the room, maximize prime seating in front of the focal point, as well as the opportunity to introduce a console table to the back of the sofa, a highly visible and useable space in the overall context of the great room. An additional sofa and two chairs complete the box on either side. This space was so large that the design team chose to layer in additional seating, the bench in front of the fireplace.
In the dining area, an eight-person, rectangular—not circular—table holds ground in the oversized space. While there are several different ways the living area furniture could be arranged, this table and chair configuration in the dining area is really the only one that would work in this room. The sofa’s console table mirrors a buffet placed on the wall opposite the fireplace, creating a symmetry that leads your eye throughout the space. This layout breaks up the room into two defined areas, while still offering cohesion.
02 Building Blocks
In our Mountainside Retreat project, there’s less of a clear line between spaces and rather a collection of boxes already somewhat defined for the purpose it should serve. Again, the fireplace serves as the anchor for the living area, though this configuration leaves a bit more open space in the furniture selection. One sofa—the Macy Upholstered Sofa from McGee & Co.—grounds the side of the box opposite the fireplace, while Shea and the design team chose two chairs and two benches to close the two other sides.
A layout like this could be your best option when the living space isn’t the main lounge area of the home. There’s less comfortable seating (only one sofa) but more space to entertain or for guests to move about. It is a layout that encourages conversation versus movie night.
In another, and separate, defined space of this great room, a ten-person dining table holds court. Shea and the design team used the floor-to-ceiling windows to align the table, opting out of a rug. The typical seating configuration for a large dining table is smaller, similar chairs along the length of the table, and two larger, upholstered chairs on the ends. In this space, Shea and the design team used the same dining chairs on one length of the table and the ends, and going for two long, upholstered benches on the length of the table nearest the kitchen. This configuration, again, allows for easier entertainment and more dialogue with guests. It’s also a more casual look, perfect for the mountain ski home that this project is.