Today we’re tackling the age old delima… what do I do when I have one room that needs to serve two purposes? How do I go about decorating a combined room?! Technically this could be a living room and dining room, living room and home office, dining room and kitchen… but for this little scenario let’s focus on the whole living room/dining room situation. Why?
Because a sweet reader wrote in asking about this exact predicament:
Hi Betsy,My living room and dining room are essentially one big room but I want to decorate them so that it makes it clear that they are two separate areas.
I don’t even know where to start!Thanks.-Sydney
Well, Sydney, I have 5 quick and easy solutions for you… let’s start with the most obvious one.
1 Create Separate Spaces
This one may seem like a no-brainer but it’s amazing how easy it is to overlook the simple solutions. When you’re trying to create two distinct areas in the same room try to plan each area strategically.
That doesn’t mean you need to get out a map and chart a battle plan but make sure to treat each area as a separate room. Mark off each area (either physically or mentally… whatever works for you) and plan accordingly.
2 Divide the Room with a Large Piece of Furniture
When you’re trying to create two distinct spaces it helps to draw a line visually with a large piece of furniture. The most common solution is to place your couch in a way that it cuts the room in half. Since your sofa is typically the largest piece of furniture in the room you’ll have a distinct line down the middle of your space!
Bonus Tip: If your space is too small for a walkway between your areas but still needs to function as two spaces place your table or desk directly against the back of your couch. In the case of a table, a bench can slide underneath for quick and easy seating that you can pull out for company.
Of course, if you have enough room in your space for a bit of a walkway a sofa table is the perfect way to divide your space. Place it directly against the back of your sofa with a few taller items on top (like a lamp or basket). The visual height will further help to divide the space.
3 Use a Rug to Separate Each Space
Now, this is the best one… because it means you get to buy not one but two rugs! Maybe that gives you hives but I’m a little obsessed with rugs so this one makes me all giddy inside!
Rugs are a big ticket item, they add pattern and softness to your space but the best part is that they literally contain each space within its own area. Even though the rug is underneath it will visually compartmentalize your space… two rugs, two areas, two spaces, one room.
4 Create a Walkway between Your Two Areas
This one might be a little harder… mainly because not every room is big enough. If your room is large enough the easiest way to separate one room into two spaces is to literally separate them with a walkway. Physical space is wonderful… bonus points for a long hallway runner to visually create a walkway.
Just take a look at the physical separation between with kitchen and living room. There’s clearly plenty of space (it looks like an entire dining room’s worth of space!) which helps to define the difference between each space.
5 Use Large Pieces of Art to Anchor Each Space
Instead of a gallery wall that spans an entire space (like in tip number 2!) use art to define each area. A large painting or piece of art over each section helps the eye to define each area as a separate space. Try to use a room appropriate size piece of art… as large as you can go without losing balance.
Remember Emily Gilmore’s painting of Richard from the Year in the Life episodes? Yup? Okay unless you’re really trying to make a statement that’s too big! Use your furniture for reference. If one area is your living room area and is anchored by a couch your piece of art shouldn’t be bigger than the couch. I’ve found that about 2/3 the length of the couch is the perfect size for a large piece of art. Go down in scale from there!
Bonus Tip: If you do go with a gallery wall make sure that it looks like a cohesive unit with a definite break before the next section.
That’s it! My Top 5 Tips for Decorating a Combined Living & Dining Room! If you loved any of my tips don’t forget to pin an image. I hope that answered your questions Sydney… good luck with your living room!
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