Reaching the milestone of downsizing from your family home into a space that suits the next phase of your life is an occasion to celebrate. It is also an opportunity to refresh your style, keeping the items that still resonate with you while bringing in new elements. Our client recently had a home built in the Village of West Clay in Carmel, IN to serve her and her family in their next stage of life. The open concept of the house design differed from her previous traditional house, offering her the opportunity to adopt the transitional style. The great room design is a perfect example of how we were able to meld the comforts of her old home into the modernity of her new space.
A spacious entryway leads into the great room and kitchen which are open to each other. The goal of the home’s design was to create a spacious, airy feeling. A large wall of windows helps achieve this look by bringing a lot of light into the space. Tall ceilings and crown molding add to the open feel. To ground the space, we added rich medium-brown wood flooring. The soft greys and creams of the kitchen were pulled into the great room as well for a cohesive look.
Our client wanted a favorite piece of art to serve as the focal point of the great room, which would also drive the color scheme. A fireplace was built in the center of the wall opposite the kitchen, serving as the architectural focal point supporting the painting. The fireplace surround was finished in a soft beige-coral to complement the art piece without distracting from it. We built cabinetry on either side of the fireplace for storage, accessories and television placement.
The blue, pink and green hues from the art piece were pulled into the rest of the space in many ways. A sofa upholstered in a highly textural blue fabric was brought from her previous home, as well as the cream and rose chairs. We added green and pink to the sofa through the throw pillows, and continued the blue into the kitchen with a window treatment set on a wall opposite the painting. The creams and muted blues of the rug complement the colors of the space while softening the rich tone of the sofa.
Our accessory choices supported the colors in the art piece and sofa as well. Blue and cream Asian ceramics dominate the large open space above the cabinetry, complemented by reflective elements and color variations. The apples bring in the green, also adding an organic look. We continued that nod to nature on the table tops by including fresh flowers and plants. By including our client’s glass lamp in a medium blue we were able to provide reading light to the sofa without obstructing the lovely view of the windows.
The final result was a comfortable, open, and light-filled space that highlighted one of our client’s favorite art pieces. She was able to meld the items she loved from her previous life into her new home.
You can learn more about this new construction project in a previous blog post:
Dining room design takes a special touch as the space is usually a feature spot in a home, yet it needs to be quite functional. At Hoskins Interior Design, we approach these design projects first by examining how the space will be used. How often do you entertain? Are you the central point for most family gatherings? How many people do you typically seat? Will you be using your dining room for other things besides eating and entertaining? Creating a design around the functionality you need will give you a space that is not only beautiful, but can also serve you well.
Dining Room Design Tips of the Trade
Designing for space is central to the functionality of a dining room. You need to make sure to create flow and comfort for you and your guests.
Dining Table Length: The size of your room along with your entertaining needs will help determine the best table length. To seat your guests comfortably, you will need 24” of table length per chair. So, if you would like to seat 10 people, you will need at least an 8-foot table. However, if your table has legs on all four sides, you will need a longer table as that design tends to push chairs closer together and you do not want to make your guests uncomfortable.
Dining Table Width: We suggest a maximum width of 48” to 52”, otherwise the table is too wide for guests to reach across it. A wide table also puts people so far apart that it makes interaction difficult.
Dining Room Seating: Dining chairs should encourage guests to linger at the table long after the meal is complete. Therefore, comfort is an important part of your seating choice. While expansive chairs may seem like a natural option, less generous dining chairs are easier to fit around a table, providing more room for each guest. We also recommend providing your guests with upholstered rather than hard seating. Your design philosophy will determine your upholstery fabric choice. Elements like lighting, food, table centerpiece, and music can set the magic of the dining space, or you can use the 8-10 chairs covered with a wow fabric to create the tone. At Hoskins Interior Design, we prefer subtly in the dining chairs unless our clients plan to change the fabric often. Something to consider is that while light-colored fabric offers a lovely look, it tends to become unsightly once mustard, gravy or béarnaise sauce has been spilled on it. If you are set on a pale color, we recommend using leather, applying a stain-resistant fabric treatment, or having slip covers made.
Lighting A Dining Room: It makes sense that the bigger the table, the bigger the light fixture you can choose. Two chandeliers can nicely complement tables that exceed 76-78” in length, as long as your ceilings are at least 9 feet tall. Chandeliers should be hung with the bottom-most ornament at a minimum of 60” off the floor. American tables are typically 30” from the floor, leaving 30” between the table and the bottom of the chandelier. If the fixture is placed much higher than that, it will not relate well to the table unless the chandelier is particularly large. Dining room lighting is more about ambiance than task, though canned lights are a nice addition for set up and cleaning. Make sure all of the lights are on dimmers!
Color in Dining Rooms: Some interior designers and chefs believe that the colors of a dining space should support the food. At Hoskins Interior Design, we are of a different mindset, feeling that your home is first and foremost a reflection of your personality. Separate dining rooms offer an opportunity to bring out your fun side, as the limited amount of time you spend in the space will keep you from getting tired of it. Consider bringing in more saturated colors, or hanging some texture on the wall through a large tapestry. Paneled wall coverings or wall papers with distinct patterns can add some pizazz as well.
Dining Room Floor Coverings: If you are choosing a rug to compliment hardwood or tile floors in your dining space, make sure it is large enough for the host and hostess chairs to be able to slide back and still be on the floor covering when the table leaves are in. For example, an 8-foot long table requires at least a 12-foot long rug.
Dining as Part of a Great Room: Many of today’s homes combine the family and dining room into one great room, which works wonderfully for entertaining. The flexibility of the space allows you to instantly change it to suit your current needs. Planning for the many ways you will want to use the space will drive the overall design, particularly the size and placement of furniture. There is no need to hang a chandelier in relation to the dining table in this type of space. Creating an overall lighting plan for the many functions of the room will allow you to move the table, or to expand it into the shared space. It is important to provide enough indirect dimmed light to provide pretty ambient lighting while ensuring your guests can see well enough to avoid eating their napkin.
The goal of designing a dining room is to create a space that encourages guests to enjoy the food and the company. While the room needs to be smashingly beautiful and welcoming, it also needs to function well for how you plan to use it. No one wants to have to sit at the children’s table unless they are really children! Planning for your lifestyle will make entertaining in your home more enjoyable for you and your guests. Looking for more tips on designing a dining room? Send us an email or give us a call at (317) 253-8986.
There is a bit of confusion surrounding the difference between a family room, a living room and a great room. At Hoskins Interior Design, we define a family room (also called a hearth room) as the place used for family relaxation, TV viewing and together time. A living room (also referred to as a parlor or sitting room) is a more formal space, mainly used for entertaining guests. A great room is a mixture of both a family room and living room, and is usually found in homes that have just one large room dedicated to both functions – family time and guest entertainment.
Our focus for this article is on designing around the need to entertain guests, both in the living room and the great room. As each space has different functionalities, it makes sense to start with how you plan to use the space. Both are gathering areas, but understanding the other activities that will take place in your space will help you create a better design.
Designing A Living Room:
At the center of guest entertainment, you will want to begin your living room design by creating multiple intimate gathering spaces. When you are hosting parties, people tend to move off into small groups for conversation. Forcing everyone to interact in a big circle is more of a meeting than a party! At the minimum, you will want a vignette that includes a sofa and two chairs, centered around a coffee table. If your room has enough space, you can create one or two more conversation areas; perhaps two chairs with a lamp table between them, and an occasional chair with an ottoman or footstool and a small lamp table. While there may be a fireplace in the space that acts as a focal point, there is rarely a TV in a living room.
Living rooms offer a wonderful opportunity to share the more formal part of your personal style with your guests. Furniture should be chosen for scale first, as you are trying to fit many vignettes in one room. Consider the atmosphere you would like to create for your guests, and choose your fabrics, window treatments, accessories and finishes with that goal in mind. Lighting will be important since you will not want your guests sitting in dim space during the evening hours! Bring in pieces from a collection, or special artwork that reflect you and your family, as accessories. Finally, make sure you give your guests a spot to place a drink or plate – no one likes balancing either on their laps!
We also suggest including a comfortable chair and ottoman along with some good lighting for yourself in your living room, creating a place to escape the business of the rest of the house. By crafting a space for reading and reflecting, you are allowing your living room to double as a sitting room which you will use with or without guests.
Designing a Great Room
Designing a great room can get tricky due to the many functions it is meant to serve as well as its larger size. Space for entertaining guests is mixed with room for family time, TV viewing, game night and homework. As the main TV viewing area, the media center tends be the focal point. Depending upon the size of your family, you will need a comfortable seating area for the TV for at least 4-5 people. Conversation areas are still important in a great room, so make sure to include a small table and chairs vignette which can double as a homework, snack or paperwork area depending on who is using it. Many times you will find a fireplace in a great room, which will serve as another focal point for gathering spaces. Balancing these elements with the functionality you need is where an experienced interior designer comes in handy!
With the larger size of a great room, many homeowners are inclined to push all of their furniture against the walls all the way around the space. This design does not lend itself to comfortable conversation or to a balanced look. Create intimate spaces in a large area by arranging seating vignettes just like in a large living room. It will be important to purchase furniture that fits the multi-functional nature of the space and is comfortable for you and your family. Remember to create a peaceful space to land outside of your kitchen, breakfast room or study. Bringing this versatility to your great room means you will use it more, and your family will be more likely to gather together in one spot rather than spreading out to other spaces of the house.
As in all interior design schemes, understanding how you are going to live in a space will allow you to take full advantage of all opportunities the room offers. If you are building a new home or remodeling, bring your interior designer in during the blueprint stage, so they can ensure you are creating a space that truly suits your needs. After the build or renovation is finished, consider having your designer find custom furniture crafted around YOUR body and YOUR needs, not those of the average person. You are guaranteed to be more comfortable in your space with the personalized touch.
We are always happy to help homeowners create the perfect space for themselves and their family. Reach out to us via email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986 to schedule a consultation.