Many homeowners have to contend with rooms that are smaller than they'd like, but a few have the opposite problem: oversize main rooms, so-called "great rooms" or older homes with open floor plans. If this group includes you, it can be a challenge to successfully furnish and decorate a big living room or family room in a way that doesn't feel industrial, alienating or haphazard.
To get you started on the right path, here are 5 tips for furnishing a great, big space.
Cutting the space down into zones will not only help furnish it easier but also aid guests in understanding how to use the room. Identify zones for such aspects as conversation areas, media usage, work space and kids' play areas. Place furniture facing inward around a central point in each of these areas, perhaps using an area rug or end tables to help form an "enclosed" space for each.
Warm Things Up
You can make a large area feel cozier by adding warmth, color and texture. Area rugs are a good way to start, and you can even layer smaller rugs on top of larger ones to add to the softening and texturizing. Large drapes and curtains, textiles or baskets also add to the "touchable-ness" of your room.
With so much empty space to fill, this is the time to go bold and adventurous with your decoration. Bold colors like blues, reds or greens help provide focal points to capture the eye and distract from unused spaces. Artwork should be large and captivating, perhaps matted into an even larger frame than necessary. If you use smaller artwork, consider making groupings rather than single pieces. Feel free to experiment with bold shapes like stripes, stars or geometrical designs.
Supersize Your Furniture
Keep your home furniture in balance with the rest of the room by avoiding slim, delicate-looking or short furniture. Small furniture will only draw attention to the enormity of the unused space around and above it. Instead, opt for overstuffed sofas and love seats, high-backed chairs with a large visual footprint and tall bookshelves. If a single piece of furniture isn't sufficiently large to feel normal in the space, try using multiples of a few pieces -- a good strategy to use with end tables, coffee tables, ottomans or individual chairs.
Repeated themes, colors, accents or motifs will help tie the whole space together. This can be done whether you have zones or just one large space. Choose repeating fabrics, complementary upholstery, a unified style of artwork or a single palette of color. Repetition, though, doesn't mean just using the same thing over and over again -- instead, play with ways to repeat ideas more subtly.
To be sure, a very large room is just as much of a challenge to decorate as a very small room. But by following a few of these ideas -- balancing the size of furnishings, creating complementary motifs, warming up the room and trying some visual experimentation -- you can create a space that you will be proud of and that everyone can enjoy.