How to decorate a great room

Have a great room? Massive spaces require thoughtful design to make them functional, livable and cozy!

Great room tips & tricks

Many of today's homes feature "great rooms" with vaulted ceilings and wide expanses of floor space. We all appreciate having more space in our homes, but vast rooms can be intimidating to style, and decorating such large spaces is sometimes overwhelming. If you have a cavernous room, here are some tips to help make it functional and cozy.

Divide and conquer

Think about how you want the room to function for your family and divide it into zones. You might picture a conversation area in front of the fireplace for casual relaxation. A pair of comfy chairs and a loveseat can create an intimate seating space. A second area might be designated for entertainment and be home to the television and a long couch or sectional sofa. A third area used for casual dining or board games can be styled with a table-and-chairs set and a chest for storing games or serving pieces. How you'll live in the room determines what kinds of areas to create.

Flooring

Unite the different zones with area rugs in a similar tone to keep the eye flowing from space to space. A base of hardwood or laminate wood flooring ties the individual zones together.

Color

Darker colors on walls make the room seem smaller. In a vast room you can use warm, deeper tones of a color you love but would hesitate to try in a small space. Painting the ceiling a rich, deep tone will visually bring it lower. Wide and intricate moldings also draw down the eye from a high ceiling.

Furniture

Choose larger furniture pieces that fit the scale of the room. Sofas should be comfortable and long-wearing. In a large room, use tall bookcases and darker woods. If you have pairs of bookcases, place them back-to-back and position them as a room divider (be sure to attach them firmly together at the back for safety and stability). Large upholstered ottomans work as movable seating, foot rests and coffee tables. Each seating area should have tables near chair-side so you always have a place to set a glass or cup. Make sure there are lamps in reading areas -- overhead lighting can bathe the room, but task lighting is necessary at table height. Avoid decorating with mirrors and glass-topped tables -- they'll make the room visually expand.

Fabrics and accessories

A large room allows the option of lush colors and heavier fabrics. The scale of the space lends itself to fully upholstered seating in fabrics like velvets, tapestries and leathers. You can define zones with different upholstery fabrics of the same color family -- a cushy chenille sectional to lounge on in the entertainment space, leather club chairs in the reading nook, a tapestry loveseat for the fireside conversation zone.

If you're on a budget, spend less on movable accessories -- throws, accent pillows, framed art pieces -- and concentrate on the larger pieces that will anchor the room and make it functional for your family.

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