Great rooms, also known as family rooms, are one of the primary places in our home where we come together with family and friends to relax, watch television, play games, and connect over conversation. The layout of this space plays an enormous part in creating an atmosphere of leisure and entertainment. Here are seven tips on how to design an amazing great room.
Figure Out Function
Every family has a different idea of how their great room will function. What activities will take place in your great room? Watching television, playing games, reading a good book, doing homework, engaging in conversation… or maybe all of the above? If you have a large space, you can easily establish multiple areas to fulfill various purposes. Once you’ve determined function, consider how many people will be occupying the room to establish the type, quantity, and size of furnishings.
What’s Your Flow?
Before placing your furniture, consider how you will move in and out of the room in addition to navigating within the room and around the furnishings. To ensure the function and flow of your room works in reality, implement these tried and true space-planning measurements when placing your furniture.
• Major Traffic Patterns – 36 inches
• Minor Walkways – 24 inches
• Clearance for the opening of a door – 36 inches
• Space between sofa or chair and coffee table – 14 to 18 inches
• Space across furniture groupings – Minimum 48 inches to a Maximum 96 inches
• Space from TV to seating – 3 times the size of your television screen
Determine or Design a Focal Wall
Whether creating a piece of art or arranging a room, there must be a focal point. This is an eye-catching area that serves as the pivotal point for the space around which everything else revolves. This could be a fireplace, picture window, television, or built-in cabinetry. If the room doesn’t have a natural focal point, one can be created with an entertainment console, bookshelves, or anything that makes a visual impact.
Start With Your Sofa
Most likely the largest item of furniture in your great room, the sofa is the epicenter of the space second only to the focal wall. It should be placed to take advantage of the focal wall, facing it or at an angle if the architecture or traffic flow dictates. All other pieces including favorite chairs should work in conjunction with the sofa, adding to its functionality. It is important to avoid adding in too many additional pieces of furniture as this can impede traffic flow and make the room feel more cluttered and crowded.
Another key design concept to keep in mind is to avoid placing the couch up against a wall (with a few exceptions). It may seem counterintuitive, but by placing the primary furniture grouping in the middle of the room, or at least twelve inches away from a wall, the room actually appears larger. Having a principal grouping of furniture with additional groupings as needed to fulfill the other secondary functions of the space, you can create a multitude of inviting, cozy areas rather than one large, cavernous grouping that inhibits conversation and connection.
Check out this Better Homes & Gardens article with ideas on arranging furnishings in Great Rooms and Living spaces.
Surfaces & Storage
Now that your sofa is situated, it’s time to place surfaces and storage furnishings. Surfaces comprise desks, coffee and side tables while storage items include armoires, trunks, and cabinets. To avoid overcrowding, identify the items that are crucial to each grouping. Remove any pieces that aren’t used frequently or are just taking up space that may be better utilized. Coffee and side tables should be located near all seating areas to allow for lighting, placement of drinks, and food items, especially when entertaining.
Anchor & Accent
Area rugs are ideal anchor points especially for the main furniture grouping. A rug pulls together the sofa, chairs, and tables while adding texture and color. To connect all the furnishings, follow these guidelines about how to place your furniture on an area rug. This helps underpin the feeling of a cozy, intimate seating area. Accentuate the main seating area as well as all other secondary and tertiary groupings with colorful pillows and throws and well thought out, attractive décor including artwork.
Light It Up
Every room requires a combination of task, accent, and ambient/decorative lighting. This allows for well-rounded illumination of the space depending upon how it is being used at any given time. Task lighting should be placed at any desks or workspaces as well as on side tables to allow for reading and in areas where board or other games are to be played. Accent lighting highlights key architectural niches, artwork, and possibly even your focal wall. Ambient and decorative lighting helps illuminate while also setting a mood.
By following these seven tips for designing your living or great room, you will create a functional space in which your family and friends will enjoy spending time.