How to Design Great Rooms

Michelle Radcliff
rustic style great room

There are numerous fundamentals to reflect upon when planning how to design a great room in your home. The concept of a great room is to combine the dining room, living room or family room into one large, spacious area, with an atmosphere of comfort and warmth.

Structural Elements of a Great Room

You need to include certain structural elements when planning your great room. These elements help define the characteristics of a true great room. First, a great room should be a combination of at least two different rooms, in a central location, that serve at least two different functions in the household, such as a dining room and a living room. Some great rooms can even include the kitchen, sometimes separated by a bar.

Tall ceilings, such as vaulted ceilings, are another important structural element of great room design. This helps open the room up, creating the expansive space that great rooms are known for. Finally, a great room should be very well lit, with plenty of natural lighting from large, picture windows or skylights. Be sure to install plenty of adequate lighting for the evening as well.

Ideas and Inspiration

contemporary style room

The first step in designing a beautiful space is to visualize the finished room. You can hire an interior designer to help with this step and show you how to maximize the space and décor options for a great room.

For those who like the do-it-yourself approach, jot down a few ideas and then scan magazines, books, and website slideshows of great room designs. Save or make a note of the rooms that appeal to your personal style. This step will help when you meet with a decorator or help you pull the room together yourself.

Next, determine your prefered style. If you have a period-style home, like a charming Victorian, your interior spaces could be inspired by the home's structural design. Maybe you have a newly built home that is in need of some style and character, or a rustic log home with an incredible mountain view.

Finally, define what activities and functions will take place in your great room. You may want to include a large fireplace and then design a conversation area with the fireplace as the focal point. Or you may want to include an entertainment center for watching movies or sports with family and friends. In other parts of the room, cooking, eating and hobbies may take place. Adequate task lighting and mood lighting are important for activities such as these.

Use Proper Design Principles

Use basic design principles to help create a well-balanced room that will be used for multiple purposes.

  • Balance - The use of symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial balance produces a pleasing order in a room.
  • Emphasis - Each area needs an emphasis, or a focal point, to establish its function and style.
  • Rhythm - Using patterns of gradation, transition, and repetition and will create rhythm in a room.
  • Scale and Proportion - The size of furniture and objects as they relate to each other and to the space around them involves an awareness of scale and proportion.
  • Harmony - When a room's overall theme or style effectively uses the elements and principles of design, harmony is created.

Bring Your Family Together With a Great Room

The open floor plan design of a great room allows your family to come together in one large room. Great rooms can have impressive designs, with massive chandeliers hanging from vaulted ceilings or an entire wall of large windows that look out over a stunning view. However, the decor should be comfortable, warm and inviting so that your great room becomes a cozy gathering place for family and friends.

How to Design Great Rooms