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Via @whylessisnotmore IG

Designer’s Guide To Styling A Great Room

Growing in popularity, this room combines the kitchen, dining and living room into one generous space.
Roxanne Robinson Oct 16, 2020
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What makes a room great? Great lighting? Great design? Great furniture? Or maybe what makes a room great is that it is a ... Great Room. A popular home design concept since the 1990s in America, this spacious living area is the result of our collectively evolving lifestyles. Yes, evolution is to thank for these massive rooms that take center stage in the home, a perfect plateau for the joy, laughter, and drama of daily life to play out, on a central stage, in one's home.

These giant spaces can come in many shapes and forms; but, generally, those emerging from new constructions feature high or vaulted ceilings. When created with exposed beams, they are infused with an added homey feeling that the room inherently connotes. But older homes can also factor in a Great Room. It usually requires knocking out a few walls and giving traditionally compartmentalized  spaces an open floor plan. When paired with a fireplace, these rooms create warmth and promote gathering much like their smaller, more intimate cousins, The Keeping Room.

Because they dominate the home center, the kitchen is usually not situated too far from a Great Room. In most cases, the idea is to incorporate the kitchen into this common space, which usually become a home’s unofficial gathering spot. Family and friends tend to gravitate there, much to the delight and chagrin of many a chef. A Great Room's impetus to being is to allow every family member and guest a spot on the stage, incorporating themselves into meal preparation and other group dynamics, even if it's to keep the cook company at close range.

Some forewarn that this communal space, with its many roles, can be a challenge. Because the room is multi-purpose, meant for lots of life to be lived in, it needs versatile furniture that can be easily styled in an open Great Room space. Floating the furniture is generally the way to allow for free movement inherent to this space. Some elements should bring the room together, like a rug that flows between the different areas, while other pieces should contrast to define a space—for instance, dining chairs and table in a contrasting color to the couch. A separation in floor heights can also create this delineation while still leaving the open feeling and is a oft-referred to design tactic architects commonly incorporate in styling a Great Room.

A place to unwind and relax is also a vital marker of this space. Whether it's the big game or a Red-Carpet awards ceremony, Great Rooms are perfect for being a couch potato. But that is the intent and the furniture when styling a Great Room as this space typically possesses less formal pieces such as an oversized comfy couch – points for an L-shaped dandy; generously stuffed Easy chairs or a lounge chair.

Editors' Picks

Sofa

Relaxation is a goal of the Great Room's purpose and a sofa can set the tone. Minotti's Connery sofa system is a Mid-Century design lover's dream C-shaped seating. But there is nothing retro about this 'sink-in' single-cushion style customizable couch, also featuring flap shelves to rest necessary objects. B&B Italia takes home the L-shaped couch in a deep purple velvet, but what makes this sofa a winner with the many colors, textures, and configurations possible. Fendi's Belt Tight sofa is a meeting of fashion and interior design. Marked by the Italian fashion houses' Selleria belts, this tailored sofa has an adjustable headrest cushion that aptly marries comfort with high design.

Chairs

A great reading chair is also in order when styling a Great Room. BDDW founder Tyler Hays turns a classic Wingback chair into a modern, slightly quirky focal point (notice it's T-Rex small arms and feet). The Yan armchair, from Artemist, has Mid-Century influence with a sultry and sophisticated navy velvet finish to combine nicely with almost any color scheme. While Richard White's Tribute Chair’s bold lines and Jetsons-esque personality turn this surprisingly comfortable piece into a Great Room standout.

Dining Table / Chairs

A grand table is also in order when styling a Great Room. Of course, it provides functional use by way of the meals shared there and the family games, projects, crafts, and homework that are sure to take place on it. Any table that constructs an inviting space for the family to gather is a key element in styling a Great Room. Holly Hunt's Thrice rectangular table comes in a customizable size, or, comes in-stock in round variations rendered in walnut, ash, or oak woods.

Juxtaposed against the Brava chair, that is equally good-looking and good for you with its ambitious solid aluminum engineering, its sleek design also supports good posture. Fendi's Infinity table from Luxury Living Group is another key piece to consider in styling a Great Room, with its chicly-minimal flat design that its airy steel base registers in contrast to the massive slab on top. B&B Italia's Febo chair delivers comfort and versatility vis-a-vis its offering of three different back heights; these chairs are excellent options in styling a Great Room as they pair well with any table surface.

Lighting

Decor accessories are also important factors to consider when styling a Great Room. A directional lamp serves as a functional focal piece, whether to add light to a reading chair or to illuminate a table area for board games and puzzles. Holly Hunt's Bell Pepper table lamp pays tribute to the versatile and popular vegetable [of the same name] with its brass  silhouette featuring a center orb with a dimmer and on/off switch. The timeless Athena lamp with a tapered marble column, similarly, draws upon architectural roots and is balanced by a simple cylindrical shade. While, Arca Horn's brass and horn table lamp from Nest Casa combines tony sophistication with natural organic shapes. In contrast, Selezioni Domus Sogno table lamp offers another styling option with its streamlined, space-saving, elegant lighting options.

Rug

Rugs are also key components in styling a Great Room and can ground the space as well as add a visual target. Holly Hunt's Moving Parts carpet, rendered in tones of charcoal, grey, and cream, provides subtle graphic interest while The Rug Company's Matrix Cool Rug  adds a direct shot of graphism. A feeling of tranquility, however, is found in Kelly Wearstler's Flaunt rug that mimics raw natural wood grain and the fluidity of water movement, as does The Rug Company's Bay Blue Rug in evoking the sea and sky of the San Francisco Bay at dusk.

Accessories

Last but certainly not least, accessories give this room a final burst of personality, especially this selection found at Nest Casa. The Pinetti multi-game chess and checkers board game two-times as a fun game for family and guests, alike. Crafted from walnut and upholstered grey leather with white squares and black and brass-finished game pieces, this game impresses the biggest gametime enthusiasts.

Candles and baskets are essential surface decor when styling a Great Room, that add function too. Candles set the olfactory tone and can work to add visual interest. Baobab Collection's Black Pearls candle jar recalls Tahitian pearls and their many shades. The scent is both bold and slight, blending ginger and black rose notes. In opposition to the smooth finish of Black Pearl is the Modernista Marina raffia candle nestled in a textured raw encasement that is detailed with silver Lurex; this candle smells of sea salt, vetiver, and amber, transporting you to the coast with each lighting. Leather acts as a handsome and durable material for baskets to collect remote controls, books, blankets, and more. Pinetti's Almeria short white tabletop basket is water-resistant and easy to clean. Arte Curio's Teso hand-crafted basket in black top grain leather boasts an artisanal accent with chic contrast white stitching.

Comfort should always be a forethought when styling a Great Room; in fact, pillows and throws are mandatory additions. Rani Arabell's criss-cross motif cashmere throw allows for ample snuggle room and comfortable lounging areas. Missoni Home's Wipptal and Westmeath cushion pillows emphasize the Italian luxury houses' classic Chevron pattern. In contrast, Tom Dixon's gold velvet throw pillow adds a jolt of light while gently padding any luxe surface area. These are just a few more things that combine to make this impactful communal space all the more Great.

Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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