Need ideas to make our "great" room functional

williamsemNovember 16, 2012

Our "great" room needs some help. I have never been able to figure out how to make it functional. It is certainly not big enough for dining and seating. It is the only living space on the first floor aside from the kitchen and powder room, and it is full of stuff to work around. We are renovating the kitchen in May, and I'd like to be able to figure this out so we can make the two rooms flow. We will have a small table in the kitchen, so this room just has to be seating/tv.

Between the windows, fireplace, kitchen door, stairs, and odd ceiling line I have no idea how this room is intended to be set up. I was thinking of adding built in storage on either side of the window at the top of the room with a window seat between, but I'm not sure if that will make it better or worse, since the tv is currently in the corner between the window and fireplace, so it would have to move (to...not sure where). The storage would be a dry bar on one side and organization/mail/charging station on the other.

Any and all suggestions welcome! I have no idea how to design a room. We also need to replace the 11 year old couch and loveseat, so no restrictions on what can be used. I do have a great grandfather clock I recently inherited, which lives in the little space between the closet and stairs and a curio cabinet with curved glass, about 30 inches wide, that I'd like to try to keep in the room.

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Is your sketch drawn to scale?
What is the size of the room from the left wall to where the ceiling goes up? And the distance from the fireplace wall to the kitchen? Those measurements appear to represent the size of the room.

And finally, how much do you use the fireplace, and is it wood or gas?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a little confused....where is the kitchen and where is the door going into it? I see the front door, the bathroom door and the door between the the room with the bath the kitchen? If so, could you take out the wall between the kitchen and living room to open it all up. Then build storage on either side of the fireplace with the TV built into the right side of the built-ins. Furniture could be "floated" so that you could see the fireplace AND the TV.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry, I've been so immersed in the kitchen stuff I forgot I'm talking to people new to the space. The room on top with the powder room is the kitchen. Got that almost set. The lower room is the one in question.

The rooms are to scale, 1 square is 1 foot. It's accurate within a few inches, I have to measure by myself so it's a challenge.

We don't currently use the fireplace. It's wood burning, though we would like to convert to gas at some point so we could use it more.

Its 154 inches from fireplace wall to kitchen door, from the front door to the change in ceiling height is 146 inches.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Even before I mention specific furniture pieces, I'd say to stop thinking of this as one room, and think of it as two rooms, with a very open floor plan. Basically, I would set this up as a foyer, and a living room, with the peak in the ceiling being the invisible dividing line.

If you can place a round table in front of the door, and maybe a coat tree on the fireplace wall, you can make it serve a function as a more formal entry area, rather than feeling as though you're walking right into a living room. Then you can pretend that the other half of the space is a square room, which is a much easier shape to tackle. I would suggest placing a loveseat/sofa or a pair of chairs with their backs toward the entry, basically like you're placing them against the "invisible wall" between the rooms. If you currently have hard surface floors, add a separate area rug to each space too. That will also help visually separate the two, without closing anything off.

I hope this makes sense, but let me know if I lost you completely at the "invisible wall." Ha ha.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 10:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with Amy - look at the room as being 12x12. Maybe you could do an L shaped setup of a sofa in front of the window (pulled away from the window about 2 feet) and two chairs placed in front of the fireplace, facing the kitchen, with a TV in the corner that is the other side of the wall from the bathroom.

The key to anything you do in this room is to keep the scale of the furniture small. Big honking furniture will overwhelm a 12x12 room. After you get the basic pieces, you need end tables and lamps. I would skip having a coffee table.

I like Amy's idea of having occasional chairs with their backs toward the foyer. They give extra seating and are easily movable. The occasional chairs would not be used daily. Their purpose is to look nice and give the visual sense of where the room ends.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Amyanyman, that makes sense. Not sure a table in front of the door will work well, but I get the idea. Will have to get my mock up cardboard out and test it to see. I have thought about putting a bench with baskets below under the window in front of the door, which I think is consistent with that idea?

Thanks, graywings. I'm having trouble picturing how the L would work with the kitchen entrance there. I appreciate the different suggestion, would you be able to post a rough sketch, or maybe walk me through it a little slower in text? I'm not great with the visualization part of this. Though a couch under the window might be why the only ceiling light in the room is over there,I assumed it was meant to be the dining area (but too small for that).

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since this is not a very large space it might be a good place to use 4 chairs around a round coffee table. If they are swivel chairs they can be turned to watch TV or the fireplace as desired. For more seating you might use small ottomans which could stay under a narrow table which the TV could rest on or against any of the walls. TV could be in either corner or on the wall backing on the powder room.

I think any sofa will overwhelm a room this size and a loveseat and 2 chairs will not give more seating and will make TV viewing more difficult.

Use the area with the front door and stairway as the entry and place your curio cabinet wherever it fits best in that area (probably to the side of the front door) and leave the Grandfather clock where it now is. Place an area rug in that area to define it as an entry unless you have wall to wall carpet.

Here is a link that might be useful: upholstered swivel armchairs

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a very primitive sketch of placement of the sofa, two chairs and TV. This would take some measuring to see if it actually fits in the room.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok, I've been playing around with this a bit. The scale is pretty accurate, though I think the curio is maybe a little larger because there should not be that much space toward the FP.

Would this look ok? There would be an 18 inch dep built in to surround the FP with the tv over it, this would continue the current 18 inch depth of the built up hearth. With an 8x8 ft corner sofa plus the built in that would leave about 48 inches as a walkway. I got out the cardboard to test it out.

There is room to put a sofa under the windows without blocking the doorway, but I struggled with getting it to look right with the tv opposite the FP or how to define the area if the tv was over the FP in that configuration.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like your rendering, but I am confused about the table in the "foyer" space. Aren't you going to have one in the kitchen, or is this the space you meant? Does it flow ok with the kitchen to have it there?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 8:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm confused about the table in the foyer too! What table? The big circle is an area rug, just trying out a suggestion from above. Is that what we are talking about? I can certainly see where it would look like one in 2D. I decided it was easier to understand in 2D because of software limitations. There's is no grandfather clock option, or storage bench option, or ability to make the closet look like a closet (unless I started over). So all those objects in 3D are depicted by completely different things.

With the corner couch I thought a coffee table would work ok, and there is a small side table pictured between the chairs. The only other table will be in the kitchen. I'd be happy to post more renderings of either room if anyone thinks they'd be helpful.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Aah...gotcha!! now it makes sense!! LOL I really like the way the family rm. is configured now with the sectional. That's what I wanted, but got vetoed...:( I think the coffee table or a round ottoman would be work just fine.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 12:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it would work well like you have it, but wondered if you could try (or veto if this wouldn't work) switching the chairs with the sectional? Maybe the ceiling works better with it the way you have it.

But I was thinking with the sectional facing the entry and the tv, but not down all the way as far as the chairs, you could have a sofa table behind it, between it and the window where the chairs are now, maybe with a lamp on it.

It might put both the sectional and the chairs in better proximity to the tv and fireplace, plus, the chairs could be a bit further out of the walkway into the room (if scooted over toward the stairway and kind of angled toward the fireplace. Then the sectional would kind of be facing the entry to the room and welcome you in.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 2:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like it. The sectional helps divide it into two separate spaces and allows you more seating. About the only other thing I'd do is add a sofa table or a low book case behind the sectional so that is the view you see from the front door. Would also allow you to put a lamp on there to use for the sectional.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Think carefully before committing to a sectional. A sectional leaves you no options for rearranging the room if you want to. In this case, it leaves no room for side tables, so no place for lamps, no place to put the TV remote, etc. And it blocks much of the opening from the foyer. The first thing someone walking into your house is going to see the back of that sectional.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the feedback!

I know a sectional will be limiting, but I can't seem to make anything else work. The doorway to the left is to the kitchen, that isn't moving. Anything I put in front of the window needs to leave a walkway to the door. Same for anything on that wall next to the kitchen. If I put anything there that is not against the wall, it needs to be out enough to have a walkway to the kitchen, which puts it too close to the FP/tv.

Moving to a couch and/or loveseat is an option. I just can't seem to make that work. It always looks off balance and odd due to the kitchen doorway needing clearance. It's entirely possible I just haven't found the right combination yet.

I would definitely consider adding some recessed lighting. If I end up putting in a built in along a wall, it would definitely need a light above each side. The only light currently in the room is a flush mount ceiling light centered about 3 feet in front of the window at the bottom and a floor lamp next to the 18 inch support column. Hard to make it anything but better from there!

Additional thoughts/suggestions welcome! I have a really hard time with stuff like this. Lucky for me I found an app that let's me play with furniture, sure beats drawing it out each time.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i'm really liking the entry way with the round rug and grandfather clock etc.
but i have some questions about the living room.
first, is a sectional important to you? do you like to cuddle on it for instance? if so, then that's too important to give up and i'd find a sliver of a sofa table to place behind it.
also, do you watch tv from the kitchen? i like your fireplace built-ins, but wonder if you could place the tv in the corner where the sectional is in the above plan.
no matter what the entry is lovely with the angles and nooks and storage.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Anything I put in front of the window needs to leave a walkway to the door.

You have a much better sense of the room than we do. But it seems to me that you could fit a sofa in front of the windows without it blocking the doorway.

I have a 7 foot long, 3 feet deep sofa. Placed in your room, centered in front of the window, it would leave 2.5 feet of space from its left side to the kitchen door opening (room for a side table and lamp). It could sit 6 inches from the wall, just enough so as not to interfere with the drapes. It would fit tighter into the space than the two chairs and table you are planning to put there.

You should not plan to rely on only overhead lighting, recessed or otherwise, for a living room. It is harsh, uncomfortable lighting. You need table lamps and a torchiere that shoots the light up to the ceiling. IMO.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:42AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need Light for Kitchen Table
So, I am posting old photos of my kitchen (it has since...
Have you used BM Etiquette?
I need to repaint my master bath. I'm considering...
What wall color with these woods?
Helping a friend on her bedroom. Right now the wall...
Hardwood floors and adjoining room, help please
We are sanding and staining the wood in our living...
Sponsored Products
Shape Shifter Rug
$139.99 | Dot & Bo
Locking Hex Rug 8' x 11' - RED
$379.00 | Horchow
RION Furniture - Colonial Side Table- Right Hand Rubbed Brown -...
Great Furniture Deal
Charleston Outdoor Teak Arm Chair with Cushion, Patio Furniture
Area Rug: Jos Teal Blue 5' x 8' Flatweave
Home Depot
15752BBR Bronzed Brass 12.4 Watts Medium Kichler LED Landscape Light
Classic Solid Brass Blank Plate
Signature Hardware
Colonial Mills Deerfield Indoor/Outdoor Braided Area Rug - Midnight Blue - DF51R
$22.98 | Hayneedle
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™