Decorating & Furniture/Great Room dilemma


Hi Jenny,
My husband and I just bought our first home and are right now experiencing a curious mixture of sticker shock and excitement! Prior to this home, we lived in a small apartment and obviously we don't have enough furniture for our new home. But the greatest problem we are facing right now is the fact that the house comes with a great room like floor plan. The entry door leads to 9 X 8 hallway that opens up in three directions, one leading to den and MBR, other to the kitchen and almost diagonally is this 22 X 14 rectangular room. The kitchen ( 11 X 11) opens to the great room over a breakfast bar and one corner of the kitchen has dining nook which is about 6 X 9 ft. with an east facing window. Both of us grew up in large spacious homes with formal living areas and so on. But the present real estate prices forced us to choose between the spacious feel and the formal living/dining. Even though this floorplan is nor our favorite, we feel the house has tons of potential. So we are so desperately hoping that you will be able to give us some ideas about frugal decoration. Here are some pts to mention:
1. The room is well lit gets lots of sunlight till noon and remains bright till late afternoon
2. The hallway and kitchen has one wall with professional faux paint ( think milk choclate :)
3. The other walls are accent painted in warm beige palette.
4.The kitchen cabinets are light maple
5. Our dining table in the nook is also warm light maple
Having mentioned all these points, here is the problem - We will have family visting by next month and would like to have some kind of basic decoration in the great room which right now looks like a big blob of nothingness. We have no defined sense/style of decoration but given my husband's desire for brown leather couch and luvseats( which we won't be able to buy for next 6 months) I am thinking of a casual yet elegant way of decorating. Can you pleaaaaase provide us some pointers how can we create a sense of intimacy and yet the comfort of space in this scenario. Can we manage to create two spaces ( one for TV watching and other for casual chit chat) in this small a room? How about curios/tables/knick knacks in such a space? Any help would be greatly appreciated

Wow.  Congrats on your new home.  First of all, don't stress yourself too much about family visiting next month.  I know you'd love to show them your new home "all done" or at least furnished, but none of us started out that way!  These things develop and are nurtured over time.  

Sounds as though your new space is pretty monochromatic (all different shades of one color) based on your description of the cabinetry, wall paints etc.  That's good in that you can add a jolt of color (your favorite of course) and create a huge impact by doing so.  

Consider adding some color, adding whatever pieces of furniture you can and then maximize your decorating by adding plants (fake or real, your choice and preference) including some trees (ficus do well in this light) and some "up lights " shining on them.  Add some floor sized pillows (check K-Mart's selection of yummy navy, burgandy and taupe).  

With open floor plans, it's important to carry color from one area to the next, without using it in exactly the same way.  Here's what I mean.  Let's say you indeed purchase those dark brown leather pieces; dark brown is now one of your colors in the space.  In the dining area, you should incorporate 'something' that is dark brown.  It can be something as simple as a vase, a matting for a picture or some dark brown "sticks" in a jar!  Carry the brown into the kitchen area with a cutting board, a tray - something.  Then if you add a jolt of red to the family room, carry that through to the dining and kitchen areas as well in some simple way.  When you cross-pollinate color, you achieve great results.  

To simplify your life, select 3 colors and a metal and go for it.  Wall color counts as one, large furniture pieces count as one, so pick an accent color and then either silver, gold, bronze or wrought iron.  

Define areas with area rugs and/or furniture groupings.  And yes, you can create two separate spaces in one space by furniture placement.  One long narrow room can house a couch and two over-sized chairs with ottomans on one end (plus lamps and tables) and a desk and chair or two slipper sized chairs can be placed at the opposite end for two distinct areas.

One last word of warning about "knick knacks" - don't go overboard.  If you have a collection that's one thing, if you just have "stuff" don't display it all at once.  Rotate it in and out as your mood dictates.  


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Jennifer Taylor Wojcik


Visit my web site at: Decor: I've written about it, planned it, designed it and colored it, and I've never stopped loving it. It's not what you spend, or who made it, it's how it makes you feel.


College, advertising, public relations, marketing, free-lance writing and a plethora of creative endeavors have led me here. As an entrepreneur in decorative product design, I learned the hard way how tough it can be to be in business for yourself. A stint at a law firm taught me humility too. Some three thousand questions ago, I wondered if I could really help. Obviously, I'm still here and still taking your questions. God Bless You!

"From Day One" and "Day After Day" available nationwide via bookstores and HTTP:// (HomeStyle articles beginning in 1998) Visit me at

BA, Psychology

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