Friday, September 28, 2012

Decorating a shared space - Living/Dining Room

I hear a lot of people asking how to set the layout of a room where the Living room and Dining room are sharing the same space.
In today's house, it is common to see the Shared Space Design as oppose to two separate rooms, one for living and the other for dining.
ieces furniture
How can you decorate it and still keep it separate? Every room is different, I cannot give you a generic answer. Something that will work for one space may not work for the other, but I will do my best to give you guidelines to better assist you laying out your room.

First things first...Figure out what your needs are
Do you entertain a lot? Do you need a big dining table or will a small expandable table be enough? Do you have a breakfast area in the kitchen, maybe there is no need for another dining area? Is there going to be a TV at the living room? etc. etc.

Second, measure your room.  If you can, sketch it on a piece of paper. 
Remember to include the measurements of all walls, doors and windows in your sketch (to scale).
Sketch your furniture (again, to scale) on a different piece of paper, cut them and experiment with them in different positions on your plan (you can also do this on your computer if you know how to use a simple drawing program). This sketch (your floor plan) is also helpful for when you go and select your furniture.

Third, if the room is not in a rectangular shape, consider using the smaller area for the dining area.

Small room dedicated for both purposes - 

a mirror is placed above the fire place to give the illusion of bigger space

For a rectangular shaped room look for the architectural clues in the room. For example a fire place is usually the anchor for the Living room; Bay windows can play a part in defining the Dining room. Where is the kitchen in relating to the room, you don't want to go through the entire space just to serve food...; and so on and so forth.

After you figured out the designated space for each area, here are some ground rules to decorate them.
Try and design the areas so there is an anchor with light and an area rug. Have a chandelier above your dining room table to define it's space.

Create focal point, or emphasize an existing one to make the illusion of separation. For example, if there is a fire place, decorate the living area around it.

You can also use glass-top table  with clear chairs to visually expand the space and make it feel bigger and less clutter.

Furniture position - This is a tricky one. Some will say, face the big sofa with it's back to the dining area. 

Luxury Room at Inter Continental NY

The sofa will create a visual separation between the areas, not everybody like this idea and they want to keep the flow of the open space design, nothing here is written in stone it can work both ways (In a long rectangular room I would avoid it). 
If you do use the "floating sofa" design, place a console behind it to use for storage to serve both zones.

Whatever you do, do not clutter the room by trying to force too many pieces of furniture into it, and always leave enough space around the furniture for people to move freely.

Last but not least, at your design you have to remember that both areas share the same space. You want to pick up furniture and accessories that will give a cohesive look. Try and avoid using too many different colors and shapes.

You can also check out my post about decorating a big room before you start,  for more design ideas.

Till next time,