Decorating an Open-Concept Space
Guest Author: Clara Jung, Banner Day Consulting
I'm often asked to help bring cohesiveness to common spaces in all kinds of homes, from those with small footprints to those with more room. With open-concept living being such a strong architectural trend, newer homes often include both the living and dining rooms in one large space. In one glance, both rooms are in your visual line of sight. Many of my clients then face the challenge of maintaining a cohesive, natural and seamless feel between the two rooms, while also giving each space its own distinct character. Below, here are some easy tips to unify two "rooms" within one larger space.
1. Rugs are a great way to visually demarcate a space, especially in a room with different use zones. For this Nob Hill project, I installed a lighter rug in the small living room to ground the space. The rug clearly signals that the nearby furniture constitute the living room, the space for lounging and relaxation. In contrast, the absence of a rug in the dining room signals visually that this area is separate from the living area. For a larger home, I would install another rug under the dining table to emphasize the different use zones while also infusing some warmth and texture.
2. Borrow colors from each space to pull things together visually. The centerpiece of the living room is the elegant gray velvet sofa. To keep things cohesive in this small space, I installed gray dining chairs in a similar hue. To keep things from feeling too matchy when you use similar colors, bring in some textural diversity. For example, though they’re in the same color family as the sofa, the linen material in the dining room contrasts just enough with the velvet of the sofa to bring the pieces together in a thoughtful way.
3. Pay attention to scale and proportion. It is often the case that when I walk into a new project, the scale of the furniture is a bit off-kilter. If you have an oversized sofa, a petite dining table will look and feel diminished and unbalanced. The same is true if you have an eight-person dining table next to a loveseat that serves as the primary seating in the living area. An easy way to keep things seamless and unified is to make sure the furniture in both the living and dining rooms are similarly sized and proportioned.
Case in point, I've created a living/dining room design scheme for you below. This board represents some trends I’ve been embracing as of late. Move over neutral sofas — I hope that statement making colored seating is here to stay! This blue velvet sofa is beautiful in hue, can work in almost any living room, and can be dressed up or down with throw pillows. And as we all know, brass is back. The dining table highlights this so well with its lovely brass legs, subtle yet different. Mixing materials is also key in any space. Textural diversity brings in interest and a more curated look, conveying a feeling that the homeowner has been slowly and carefully building his/her furniture collection. Here we have marble, velvet, wood, glass, leather and brass all working in perfect harmony to achieve a sophisticated look and feel.
As you can see, I’ve included rugs in both areas to ground each room and create visually distinct spaces. Also, the scale and proportion of the furniture is roughly the same, keeping the overall feel of the room natural and harmonious. Lastly, I’ve brought some colors/finishes from the living room into the dining room — the brass accents and the media console wood tones are reflected in the leather dining chairs and brass legs of the dining table. And perhaps this is one step too much for some, but the console has whimsical butterfly hardware that is again repeated in the tone of the wall art. I absolutely love this living/dining room combination. It's pulled together and polished yet maintains separate identities for each space.
Just remember — the living and dining rooms might be different chapters but the overall goal is to maintain a narrative that amounts to a great novel, your home.