You see, last week we worked on a home that was in dire need of design help. The homeowners had simply given up on their attempt to get style and function to intersect inside their 1970's rancher. Faced with the same long, narrow living room/dining room combo that many homes of that era feature, the owners had no idea where how to create a stylish, dual-function room. So they did what a lot of you do. They panicked and ran to the nearest wholesale club to buy the biggest, most awkward sectional sofa they could find. The space was adequately filled with very comfortable furniture, but style, beauty, and function were no where to be found.
|Where It All Began|
Yes, we did fix this. And the home got multiple offers in the first weekend on the market. But I'm going to show you the "After" photos of this project some other time. For today though, I'd like to take Laurel & Wolf's spring remodel & spruce up theme to illustrate the potential a room like this can offer. Long, narrow dual-function rooms can be scary spaces, for sure. But with a little planning and help from some smart designers like you can find at Laurel & Wolf, they truly can be gorgeous and functional spaces that everyone will love.
To get started, I thought about the room's layout. I decided the best option would be to return the room to its original intent -- a living room/dining room combination. The dining room would sit at the far end of the room, closest to the kitchen; and the formal living space would be located next to the foyer.
It was also important to consider the type of events that may take place here. With a family room located just a few feet away, the room does not necessarily have to house a lot of media elements like computers, gaming consoles, etc, but it will serve as a gathering spot for guests. Plus, this home is located in the South where football is a religion, so having a television is a must if you want anyone to attend your party.
With a new layout in mind, it's time fill the space with the basics. I started by lightening the room with a soft, sea salt color on the walls. Because the ceilings are low, I would also increase the vertical space by hanging white curtain panels from ceiling to floor.
From there, a dining table and living room seating group were obvious choices. The trick, though, to making this space function well while looking beautiful is scale. A huge sectional sofa is not a good choice for this space. With low, 8 foot ceilings and a narrow room width, furniture selections should be kept on the smaller end of the size spectrum.
To also make the dual functionality of the room work while remaining stylish, the space needs to be delineated. Rugs and clever room dividers can help accomplish this task.
Take a look at the new floor plan . . .
You can see that along with the rugs used to divide the one big room into two specific functions, a storage buffet is also used to separate the dining and living spaces.
With the plan in place, it is easy to start filling in with furniture and accessory selections. Starting with a console that allows plenty of room for traffic on both sides, the sofa size can be determined. In this case, I decided upon a small three-seater sofa. Sometimes these are referred to as apartment sofas because of their compact size. Along with the sofa, I added matching chairs to complete the grouping. Then a small coffee table with a little metal bling was added to the center, still allowing room for traffic flow.
|A glimpse from the entry. Soft tones, mixed patterns, and some bling from silver and gold elements.|
An interesting thing about each of the items in the living area, all of the pieces have skinny legs and open bottoms. This helps to make the area seem more open and spacious. In fact, the only item that does not feature the open bottom style is the console, which serves to divide the space.
In the adjacent foyer, I tucked a pair of matching ottomans beneath the entry table. This is a clever way to add seating options for large gatherings. The side table/stool beside one of the chairs also offers extra seating. Now this room can comfortably seat 14 guest without bringing in extra chairs. It's so much better than the 8-person seating offered by that bulky sectional!
|Yes -- you can tastefully tuck a TV into a room.|
Once the big basics are in place, it is simple to find beautiful accessories to fill the room as long as you keep the scale and color scheme in mind with every selection. You'll notice that the color black is repeated in both areas within the room. Also, items are not "matchy-matchy". In fact, the look is a bit eclectic with varying design styles, wood tones, metals, and shapes. It works because each separate space has elements that recur in the opposite space.
Here are a few more virtual renderings of my dream living room/dining room filled with traditional, transitional, modern, and antique elements all working together . . .
|A view from the dining entrance. Notice how the soft panels, hung ceiling to floor, help increase the visual space.|
|Simple, elegant dining room with a big piece of art. Every room can use great art!|
If you're looking to spruce up your living space, but have no clue how to get started, don't fret. It can be easily done, so there's no need to wait any longer. If you're in the middle Tennessee area, contact me for a consultation. For those of you not in the area, the team at Laurel & Wolf would love to help. Their virtual design team can get you on the track to creating a beautiful living space today!