Friday, May 27, 2016

Living (and Dining) with a Plan

I don't know how you spent the past weekend, but I spent the long holiday break getting inspired. I took the extra day away from the office perusing design sites and beautiful images. I fell in love with Laurel & Wolf's blog and Pinterest boards. Those gorgeous rooms gave me a spark of creativity to really dream about the possibilities for a recent project.

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 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

Of course we helped restyle this room. And the home got multiple offers in the first weekend on the market. I will share some "Before & After" photos very soon, but for today --- I'd like to illustrate the potential a room like this can offer.

Long, narrow dual-function rooms are a very common design dilemma. We see them at least once a week. From a design standpoint, they can be scary spaces, for sure. But with a little planning and help from sources like Laurel + Wolf, Pinterest, design magazines, or wherever you see beautiful things, rooms like this can be transformed into truly gorgeous and functional spaces that everyone will love.

To get started, you need to think about the room's purpose and layout. I decided the best option for this room would be to return it 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. This would give owners the ability to entertain large groups in a single space.

It is also important to consider the type of events that may take place here. With a family room located just a few feet away and a finished basement below, this room does not have to house a lot of media elements. It is, however, the only place in the home that can seat more than three people for dinner, so returning the dining function to the room is a must.

With a new layout in mind, it's time fill the space with the basics, beginning with color. Lightening the room with a soft, sea salt color on all of the walls helps to open the room. Because the ceilings are low, visual space can also be increased by hanging white curtain panels from ceiling to floor.

From there, a dining table and living room seating group are 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 dimensions, furniture pieces should be kept on the smaller end of the size spectrum.

Finally, to make the dual functionality of the room make sense, the space needs to be stylishly delineated. Rugs and subtle room dividers can help accomplish this task.

Take a look at the new floor plan . . .

You can see that along with the rugs, a storage buffet is also used to separate the dining and living spaces. 

With the plan in place, it is easy to fill the room with the proper furniture and accessories. Starting with a console that allows plenty of room for traffic on both sides, the sofa size can be determined. In this case, a small three-seater sofa was chosen. Sometimes these are referred to as apartment sofas because of their compact size. Along with the sofa, matching chairs 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 an open bottom is the console, which serves to divide the space. 

In the adjacent foyer, a pair of matching ottomans are tucked beneath the entry table. This is a clever way to add extra seating for large gatherings. The side table/stool beside one of the chairs also  offers additional 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 basics are in place, it is simple to find beautiful accessories to expertly fill the room by simply 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 without things being "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 design plan for a long, narrow 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 personal consultation. For those of you not in the area, send me a message and I'll help you virtually layout your dream room.

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