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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Help designing a giant great room/formal dining area

krystal ♥February 27, 2013
I need some help to try and figure out what to do with a formal dining area in a house we are buying... there already is a breakfast/dining area off the kitchen, and we don't want to have two dining rooms.

Our great room is combined with the formal dining area - I want to turn this into a reading nook or something comfy and inviting, while still having a separate living room with a sofa and tv.

I do not want to have a computer area or desk area here. No clutter - I would like to replace the chandelier light fixture with something less dining-room-ish. Any suggestions, pictures, or ideas would be wonderful!

Thank you all - Krystal
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Rejuvenate Remodeling Design
That's a great idea. Very few people want a formal dining room any more. Use a screen or furniture to create a "wall" that defines the space. As for the light, you may want to eliminate it and add some wall sconces and floor and table lamps. They are much cozier.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Pyramid Design Group Architects
To start with remove the 2 flourescent fixtures and replace them with recessed lights. Then get a simple ceiling fan that mounts closer to the ceiling withouts lights attached.

As for the existing lighting fixture , you might dress it up with shades, at this point it seems too "light" for the space.

The console table that you have could use a large mirror above and a fun table lamp on it.
    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:15PM
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krystal ♥
Those are actually skylights, not flourescent lights. I haven't decorated, either - this is the seller's furniture!

Thanks for the ideas - I think I'll separate the spaces with furniture and turn the dining area into a spot with a couple chairs, an ottoman, and a small table...
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:59AM
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JUL313 Gallery
What a blank slate!! You definately have some excellent spots for a large piece of art!! I have recently completed a few pieces and also work on commisssion. Please contact me at julie@jul313.com and visit my web page as well www.jul313.com
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:57AM
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I think I have seen this model in Pingree Grove, IL and I thought the floor plan was layed out odd with the dining room in that designated area. I'm happy that you are re-purposing the area. You have a very spacious area to fill. With the built ins your limited as to furniture placement. This room is screaming for a large sectional, not placed against any walls. A large ottoman and a chair or two. 2 chairs facing the fireplace for an offset sitting/reading area. For the old dining area, perhaps more bookshelves and another sitting area with a vintage desk. As far as the chandelier, duplicate the ceiling fan already in the room in that location. Are you planning on painting? Not a fan of the nursery room green.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:21AM
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Jeff Hibbard Design Services
Krystal. You need to define the new reading nook from the Formal living room.
On a larger scale you could build a soffit down from the vaulted ceiling a the edge
of the new reading nook. This will give visual break. you could seperate the areas with columns
to support the soffit. Also a flooring break will give further definition to each space.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:23AM
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For inspiration. With some tweaking this arrangement could work. The two chars with a large table make an ideal reading or conversation area instead of dining and you could still use a chandelier.
The console table behind the sofa is a nice focal.
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:44AM
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If you place a large sectional in the tv-room, you'll instantly have sort of a division between the two spaces.

You can browse Houzz living room photos and type in the search box 'dividing large living room'.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:45AM
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Here's the photo
8 Likes    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Marie Hebson's interiorsBYDESIGN Inc.
Hi krystal ♥, Marie here.
Wow - what a beautiful room -
You will want to repaint that mint green away - but do not pick paint until you have your furnishings and drapery chosen for your space. Then pick paint to find the perfect balance - highlight.

If you can, I'd start by creating a floor plan online using icovia.com - that will help you get the right pieces of furniture and creating zones and conversation pits for your room(s).

Dining room fixture will need to compliment what is going on in the space, as well as compliment other adjacent rooms so it feels like it belongs.

What is your style?
Are you buying all new furniture, or do you need to incorporate existing pieces?
What is your budget?
Are you replacing your flooring?
Do you want to refinish the fireplace at all with new tile and/or mantle?

These are all very important questions to ask yourself, start jotting down notes, collecting your photos for the end result and find your inspiration point! (eg: fabric, painting, countertop, vase or dish,) That one item that has all the colours you want to have in these spaces...Good Luck!
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 12:04PM
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krystal ♥
Thanks for all the wonderful recommendations!! I am planning on painting.. that color isn't quite my taste. We will have neutral furniture with dark wooden accents.

I am very tempted to drywall over the built-ins since we want to put a flat screen tv over the fireplace, and have the sectional face the outer wall/fireplace. I'm not big on "clutter" and I feel that filling every shelf on that built-in will just annoy me.

I really appreciate the pictures, it helps me visualize it much better. I like the idea of putting a ceiling fan similar to the other one instead of the chandelier. The carpet is new, and we do want to keep it - we've had nothing but hardwoods and tile and want something soft this time around!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:27PM
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What a lovely space! And what ideas! I would have to say first, that it would be tragic to cover the built-ins. I would have suggested the same layout with the furniture, but why not paint the built-ins to soften the look of them and then use them to showcase precious pieces... Almost like an art gallery. You definately would not need to fill them up... One or two pieces per shelf with some lighting highlighting it would be stunning. As for the space beside... Why not turn it into a cozy reading area. I would leave the chandelier but put some shades on it to tone it down. Place a small bookshelf on that wall with a couple of nice comfortable chairs. The placement of the sectional would already break the room into separate spaces. Have fun and congrats on your beautiful new home
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Spring Robbins
Such a great space, I would get a giant sectional and area rug to create a defined space.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:47PM
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krystal ♥
I like the idea of painting the built-ins... we aren't a fan of the wood look, so we plan on repainting all the trim white. It is good quality woodwork, but it's not my taste!

I will be using a rug to separate the areas.. I think that is a great idea. Maybe adding pillars to divide the room is an idea, too?
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:54PM
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This space represents some challenges. I like Pyramid's comments about changing out the lighting, putting in can lights. I believe the open plan is an asset but has to be addressed thoughfully. The entertainment center placed on a different wall from the fireplace represents some challenges. I see two possible ways to address it. First, you could create an 'L' shaped seating arrangement on the near side of the photo, that faces both the entertainment center and the fireplace, such as a couch and a love seat, oriented to suit the width of the room. Another option is to use the fireplace wall as the focus, and orient everything in that axis. I suggest that you will have to address both the skylights and the the end wall windows flanking the fireplace with shades (likely power shades on the skylights) to best control natural light, when necessary. In either case, you can have an oversized stuffed chair and a table near to the bookcase, with a table lamp, it appears, on either the near or far side of the bookcase. Your audio components could be placed in the existing ent. center, and wired through the floor and into the wall to a TV placed above the fireplace. This photo is for illustrative purposes, as it has a vaulted ceiling and a dining table in the near ground, which you can ignore, as this is about the furniture and the function. The color scheme is up to you, but as in this photo, I recommend painting the focal wall a darker shade of the color you use throughout the room. The sconces are a nice touch, and as with the overhead lights are on a dimmer. Either solution is relatively easy to implement, relying primarily on some electrical work and furniiture placement. This can be a really nice, colorful and comfortable space. Best of luck in putting it together!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Alcove Decor and Furniture
Can you use that space as Office or study room with office desk, book cases, or like a small library? do you have additional pictures of area?
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:01PM
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krystal ♥
I don't have any more pictures - these were from the listing. I would rather not have a desk or office space there since we have a bedroom we will use as an office. Also, I have a tablet now, and no longer read paper books! :) So there goes the idea of having more bookcases...
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Barbara Griffith Designs
I also like the idea of painting the built-in white..trim color and using that area with a rug and comfy chairs for a library area...running it together with the old dining space I would place a large game table under the chandelier..maybe change the light out...in that same area have other items for fun and interaction with others. Use your existing ceiling fan but change the light kit to a simple frosted bowl. It looks simple and gives you light if you need it. I would not add pillars..use furniture & rugs to separate your spaces.
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:28PM
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I like DMH's lighting ideas.
I'm also thinking that you could make the tv area a lounge area, with large comfy furniture, and putting a small 'dining' table, don't freak out now - I know you don't want another dining area :-), with a couple of comfortable chairs to have a space to read a newspaper, have a drink, have a coffee with friends.... in the formal dining area.

Personally... I'm not a fan of tv's over fireplaces. I like the L-shape that you currently have. But as I said, personal opinion. Also.... I'm toying with the thought of making the bookcases darker than they are now. Not drywall them over or paint them white. Hmmm.... I'll see if I can find some examples for you so you can see how I see it in my head :-)

Beautiful, light room. Nice project.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Thought behind keeping the built-ins: if you like an uncluttered space you'll need/love the cupboards. And rooms without personal accessories will never look warm and 'lived in', so you can display some gorgous art pieces, a couple of photos, ceramics, a stack of Interior Design magazines neatly on the shelves without the need of adding pieces of furniture for that purpose only.
(Added photos of non-white in-builts, not as examples of minimalist decoration.)

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2 Likes    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 2:11AM
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A Crew of Two
I would definitely get rid of those built-ins...I think they look dated and are just off some how. Unless you update them with new moldings and doors and paint them out to match the walls. I think the fireplace needs to be the focal point in this room. If you need shelving in the room I would use the short wall in the 'dining room' Not sure if you have kids, but i like the idea of maybe a game table in the dining area....a place to gather, do homework etc. A sectional would be perfect for this space. Also a few smaller chairs that can be moved easily if needed....a cozy spot by the fireplace etc. The room is large enough to create different seating areas. I like the idea of matching lighting on both sides of the room. What a great space!

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2 Likes    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 3:47AM
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krystal ♥
Wonderful ideas!! We don't have kids and aren't planning on it right now, so a game table isn't really what we are looking to have... my husband doesn't think installing a tv above the fireplace is going to be easy, so we may have to utilize the built-ins.

I think I'll enlarge some of my photography for above the fireplace and face the chairs outward, not facing the fireplace, to frame it and still have it as a focus point in the room (like what's shown in that picture in the bottom row of kklinton's post).

I've got some thinking to do, but I really love these last few sets of pictures - just my style and taste! Thanks a lot!
3 Likes    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 6:16AM
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Todd B. - Buffington Fine Homes
I would consider painting or redoing the current built ins, then possibly building bookcases that match on that back wall to left of the built ins - the tan wall. Coming up with a new color scheme and wall color would be a good place to start. Are you keeping the carpet or are you considering installing wood floors? They would look great, so would some beams on the ceiling. I would definately do a different light fixture and fan. 4 matching chairs and a low round coffee table in the middle of them would make a neat reading area in front of the bookshelves. You could also have that light fixture hang low over the center table and anchor them with an area rug. Another seating area with a couch and chairs in front of the current built-in would be good for TV and general seating/entertaining.
    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:22PM
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karen paul interiors
I skipped through the comments...sorry! If you can submit a floor plan with measurements that would provide Hozzers enough information to make sense of the space. From what I can see, your space is large and that is why I ask you to submit specifics.
    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:35PM
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You don't need any dividers, shelving or columns to make the large area into 2 smaller zones. Floating furniture in the room rather than up against walls, you can create a tv watching area - book reading and conversation areas easily.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Fanie Evans
I agree with ddw12, but you could also float an open bookcase between the two if you wanted something to separate but not cut off the spaces.
    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Pam Sonnier
Dining, Coffee or Cocktails · More Info
have you thought of having a bar area. Instead of built in as shown in pic, you could use a very nice piece of furniture (armoire/wine bar) with a grouping of photos to the side. Good luck
    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:29PM
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