From Cavernous to Cozy

Large rooms can feel uninviting and overwhelming without proper design and layout. Read on to get
the advice of top designers for furniture placement, color schemes, and lighting solutions.

Identify functional areas within the room, like conservation zones, reading areas, dining zones, and TV viewing areas. Look for the focal points in the room such as a fireplace, a wall of bookcases, or a wall of windows, and create seating arrangements by “puddling” pieces around these focal points. In a large room one has to create areas of interest, so think about a seating area using an angled layout. Often placing two sofas back to back is a good way to create multiple seating areas. Define various seating areas by using multiple area rugs rather than one large rug. Look at the size of the room, including your ceiling heights, and be sure your furniture pieces and art work are size appropriate—an 8 by 10 picture is lost on a wall with 12-foot ceilings unless it is part of a grouping. – Marty Stanley, Allied ASID, IDS, Anything Goes, Inc.


Whether you have a lot of space to fi ll or just very high ceilings, implementing some simple solutions can solve large room problems. Try swapping an existing coffee table for an oversized ottoman with a tray to close gaps and add softness. Pull sofas and chairs off walls—this will allow areas to add furniture with lamps and create focal points for artwork. Provide extra seating for the larger overall design by integrating a pair of occasional chairs tucked into a corner to develop a cozy “space within a space.” The right paint color can evoke a more intimate atmosphere, too. – Kimberly Varner, ASID, NCIDQ Certified, Kimberly Varner Interior Design

Large areas, which are very popular, can often appear cold and uninviting. I recommend grouping
furniture with area rugs for definition to create a warm feeling. The addition of a textured wall covering will also “warm” an area. Grasscloth is having a resurgence, so the addition of this wall covering could be the key. Additionally, lamps will add a glow and warmth, more than any accessory! Add them on consoles and chests.
– Marsha Yessick, ASID, NCIDQ Certified, Yessick’s Design Center

Often clients find it difficult to make a space feel warm and inviting. A helpful tip here is painting ceilings. If a ceiling is 9 feet or higher, try a color that complements your décor. If ceilings are less than 9 feet, I suggest trying a light tone, such as cream or gray, but in a tone that is slightly darker than the trim in the room. Another trick is to keep upholstery pieces away from walls and perhaps create more than one sitting area. The use of rugs also defines and anchors spaces and adds intimacy to any setting. Lastly, never underestimate the power of lighting, which is a most important feature in any room. – Tony Thompson, District Chair, ASID Tennessee, Tony Thompson Design


Large rooms can be made to seem cozier using a few tricks. Try a large bound carpet piece, perhaps with a tone on tone pattern or large furniture brought in so that at least the front legs of the piece are on the carpet. Have some sort of focal point for the room—if not a fireplace, then a tall bookcase or display cabinet. Sometimes a large credenza or console with some oversized artwork or a beautiful mirror will work, too. Taller lamps make an impact as well. Floor-length fabric panels that coordinate with the upholstery will add warmth to a large space. – Dolores Wolfe, IDS, Wolfe Studio Interiors

When attempting to make a large, expansive room feel cozier you could try these ideas: fl oat your
main furniture pieces away from the walls, use an oversized ottoman as a coffee table, or try decorative or Oriental rugs to define spaces. Mood lighting is great to highlight sitting areas. You can also make a large space cozier by adding window treatment panels on wooden hardware to accent window architecture. Using small decorative items such as sculptures, art glass, potted plants, and throw rugs can add a homey feeling to any space. – Donna H. Mitchell, Total Concepts Interiors

Large rooms can generally be broken into more intimate areas easily, but a homeowner must be careful not to obstruct the home’s flow. Once individual areas and client criteria are identified, furniture selection should be appropriate to the area. Scale is important to remember. In general, if the area is large, then the furniture, area rugs, etc. should be large; if the area is small, then the
furnishings should diminish as well. Weight can be collective, for example: a pair of smaller chairs can carry the weight of a larger piece as long as the overall effect does not come across as cluttered.
– Vicki Runge, Fowler Brothers Co. Interior Design, The Furniture Shoppe



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