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The great-room that feels too big

A great-room that feels too big is a very common complaint today. So many builders try to make an open plan between the kitchen and family room as spacious as possible. In doing so, a huge volume of space is created. However, there are many decorative elements that can be added after the home is completed that will visually break up the space to make it feel smaller and more welcoming.

The first area that deserves attention is the ceiling. Adding beams can break up that flat and unexciting expanse of sheetrock. For a more contemporary or tailored look, a painted finish is a wonderful option on the beams. If an older more rustic feeling is desired, staining and distressing them will help create that Old World charm. Be aware that intensity of the color contrast between the beams and the ceiling determines how much the beams will stand out.

Chandeliers are another great way of visually breaking up a great-room. They help to fill the empty space above and provide a warm glow of light in the center of the room. Size, proportion and quantity are critical to their success. Consider using more than one or a very large one in the center of the room.

Also, try using rugs in each section of the great-room to warm up the space. The rug under the dinette set need not be the same as the one under the sofa; however, they much coordinate in some fashion. If wall-to-wall carpeting was used in the sitting area, a beautiful and plush rug on top will certainly make a cozy feeling.

Using low furniture as a divider between the two areas is also an effective means of visually breaking up space. A sofa table, server or bookcases, finished on all sides, used as a divider makes the entire space seem smaller without disturbing the overall open appearance. Add light and open accessories on top, such as a floral arrangement, to add more bulk to the center of the room.

Finally, the easiest decorative element that will make any room inviting is the paint color. Make a break from white walls and use deep and rich tones to create a sense of warmth and intimacy.

Published in Elegance by Design - May 2001, updated 12/09.

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