Great Room Design Ideas

The Great Room is Where a Family Lives

Similar to a traditional family room and oftentimes connected to the kitchen and eating areas, the great room in many modern homes is the most popular gathering place in the house. A great room is where the family spends time in the evening and on weekends, when it’s raining outside, where we get together to play board games, watch television and movies on DVD and entertain friends.

The great room should be a comfortable space to spend time. It is not generally a formal room, so the décor will often be casual and inviting. A fireplace or entertainment center makes the focal point in most great room layouts. Arrange seating to take best advantage of your focal point, with a large coffee table and small end tables with table lamps to set down drinks, books and other items.

Perhaps no room gets more regular use than the modern Great Room, which typically combines family room, eating area and kitchen into a single living space.

Since it is the centra living space, the theme of a great room should be in keeping with the overall style of your home, in this case modern. Photo by Related Midwest.

Great Room Design Elements and Themes

Use a consistent theme in your great room design. A more eclectic style works too. Photo by Posh Living, LLC

You need to pick a theme for your great Room. You wouldn’t write a story without a plot, and basically, when we decorate, we are telling a story about who lives there. Are you a nature lover, does your family love sports, are you very traditional, or do you like a very minimal room?

Once you have a theme, it’s a lot easier to pick and choose the elements in the room to create that feeling, and can save you a lot of money in mistakes when things don’t quite go together. An area for board games or cards is easily accommodated by adding a game table several chairs and some task lighting. Place a floor lamp to add ambient lighting.

Some great rooms will incorporate a window seat to take advantage of the natural light provided by large windows. You can place a bench, loveseat or settee beside the window if your great room does not have a built in window seat. Add a soft cushion or pillows to make this a comfortable reading place. An end table with lamp makes a good addition to any reading area.

The large space in your great room makes it an ideal place for tall house plants. Up lighting can add drama and color at night. You might also consider a writing desk to make space for your bill-paying center.

Great Room Color Scheme Considerations

Elegant and taseful, this great room design makes great use of warm tones contrasted by green walls. Photo by iStockPhoto.

Once you decide how you want to use the space in your great room, its time to pick a color palette. If you can see another room from your great room, its best to pull a color from the adjoining room into your great room décor to help the rooms flow together.

Theme is also an important element in color selection. A natural theme may incorporate earthy tones, while a nautical theme would incorporate blues and yellows. Focus on the largest area, usually the walls first. Painting is a quick way to transform your great room. Try painting several patches with variations of the colors and tones you think you like on just one wall and let it dry to be sure which one you like best before painting the entire room.

Faux finishes like sponge painting and ragging can add texture, giving your great room a rich feeling, and are very easy to learn. Decorative trim such as crown molding, a chair rail and upgraded baseboards will go a long way to making your great room more visually appealing and unique.

Window treatments are a critical piece of your great room decor. One issue to consider in a great room will typically be the sliding glass doors. With kids and dogs running in and out, you may want to forgo expensive vertical blinds. Under all that heavy use, the vanes start falling out and get permanently bent after being shut in the door a few hundred times and the whole treatment needs replacing soon thereafter.

Window Treatments, Furnishings and Accessories

Open beams and skylights give this great room a light and open feeling. Photo by QuintanaRoo.

Roll-up imitation wood blinds are an option, or if budget allows, real wood blinds work well. Fabric panels made from twin flat sheets are inexpensive, and if you don’t sew, you could use iron-on hem tape. Inexpensive wood dowels can be used as rods, and you can glue something decorative onto the end of the rod for finials.

Once your walls and windows squared away, its time to select furniture, which can be expensive. There are ways to make the most of your existing pieces, and looking for less expensive alternatives. Slipcovers can give an old, worn-out sofa a new look. Look for sales or check local consignment shops to find your best deals on furniture if your budget is tight.

Blanket throws can be cut from a yard of polar fleece fabric, which doesn’t fray, so no sewing is required; just cut some fringe and it’s ready to throw on the couch. Another budget-minded option is paint. Paint mismatched furniture all the same color or apply a faux finish to make things match, adding wood molding to create a shared theme for the pieces.

Lighting and Accessories for the Great Room

A view from above; this rustic great room feels warm and inviting. Photo by longmountainlodge.

Lighting is always important in the great room since so many different activities go on. Can lights or track lighting in the ceiling help provide overall ambient lighting, while pendant lamps or other hanging lamps add nice accent lighting. Floor and table lamps can be used to provide task lights in appropriate areas of the room.

Lastly, the fun is in accessorizing and really pulling together the theme for your great room. Start by selecting a few key items that you really like and then add items that complement these core accessories. Find inexpensive candles and put them in a nice bowl filled with stones or potpourri.

The great room will serve any family well, providing an inviting place to hang out indoors if you take the time to make it comfortable and inviting with these design and decorating ideas.

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