This month Courtney from Courtney Out Loud is back for his monthly insight, offering his best tips for delivering big impact in spaces which demand large scale décor.
Let’s hear them Courtney!
“The 1990s ushered in the concept of the expansive ‘great room’ – a large and often double height room that encapsulated the idea of living without walls. It combined the functionality of formal dining rooms living rooms, dens, and family rooms into one massive space. The great room proved to be a key selling point for families looking for more open living, however, it has also proved to be a constant source of frustration as how to best decorate such a voluminous space.
When faced with rooms of monumental proportions, I look to the words of a former college classmate whose favorite catchphrase was "Go Big or Go Home." Of course he was referring to drinking when he uttered that phrase but nonetheless, the statement also holds true for home decorating. The key to decorating large spaces lies in utilizing proper scale.
Follow these simple rules and your larger space will end up feeling more like a cozy nook:
1. Define the Space From Below. A complaint I typically hear from my clients is that their great rooms are not functional. Upon hearing that, the first thing I tend to ask is if they have segmented the room by use. Sounds simple but so often home owners neglect to divide their great rooms into smaller areas.
By creating activity zones or communal areas for entertaining, reading, and conversation as well as more utilitarian areas such as an office or craft area, the room begins to feel less overwhelming.
l choose to work a space from the floor up, so a hardworking area rug is a worthwhile and essential investment for a large great room. In great rooms, I like to use multiple rugs to define zones, but I find many people are hesitant to use multiple rugs in one room because to them they appear choppy or island-like.
To counter that notion, I encourage them to consider large rugs (8 x 10 or larger) in different but coordinating designs to create seating areas and to avoid the appearance of a room looking like a fragmented hotel lobby.
Deborah Needleman via
If the idea of multiple rugs doesn’t sit well, then consider going having a custom rug created. While extra-large rugs often run thousands of dollars, a inexpensive alternative is to find a carpet remnant and have it bound. This way, you can create a custom one-of-a-kind pieces for far less than what a custom woven rug would cost.
2. Keep Your Head Up – Literally. While I like to start my designs from the ground up, I next turn my focus my attention to what is up above. I think great rooms need bold lighting – those lighting fixtures with visual weight and heft that allow them to stand on their own.
Erika Ward, Owner and Principal Designer of Erika Ward Interiors sees over scale lighting as an excellent opportunity to take advantage of soaring ceilings, but also as a way to create tension in a room by slipping modern or rustic elements into a transitional rooms without tipping the overall design scales.
Large-scale fixtures like the one pictured below create the illusion of lower ceilings which in turn makes for a more intimate environment. As a general design rule, most people love the idea of cozy nooks which are typically lacking in great rooms, so by using large-scale light fixtures, you create lower sightline which makes most people believe a room to be smaller and cozier.
3. Mirror Magic. Mirrors are the most versatile piece in a designer’s arsenal. Mirrors reflect light and create a sense of brightness in a room and for many great rooms these are two elements that are sorely lacking. Mirrors promote interaction with a room and they visually draw a person in and across a space. Lastly, mirrors can be made in large proportions at affordable prices making them optimal for creating large-scale impact.
Use the qualities of a large open room to your advantage by using an over scaled mirror. By using an extra large mirror, you are creating a strong visual focal point within a room. Just remember that mirrors will reflect whatever is on the other side of the room, so pay attention to that when hanging and make it visually appealing.
4. Change Your Perspective. Most people see the world as flat since science has proven that most people instinctively view the horizontal plane first when accessing space. In a large room, you need to create opportunity for the eye to travel up. Personally, I love using floral arrangements on coffee tables and in corner nooks to break the horizontal plane and create a sense of verticality in the room.
Arrangements need not be expensive to have big impact. A bunch of curly willow or manzanita branches in vase can provide visual impact and require only occasional maintenance.
5. Make It Larger Than Life. Great rooms typically have ample wall space, so take advantage of it! Go for larger than life art pieces to fill the space to add a sense of fun and whimsy. If large-scale pieces are out of your budget, consider grouping collections of enlarged photographs on one wall. To ensure that collection reads as one cohesive unit, use the same size and color frame.
6. Group Furniture Strategically. Furniture doesn’t necessarily need to be oversized in order to be effective in great rooms. While over scaled pieces can anchor a space, regular scaled pieces when grouped together and combined with the other rules can easily outfit a room.
The key is pulling furniture away from the walls and creating furniture vignettes. In doing so, the furniture vignettes create pockets for activity and conversation while ensuring that the furniture doesn’t recede into the walls making the room feel empty.
Using these simple rules as guidelines, decorating your great room is no different from tackling any other room in your home.”
Wow, thank you Courtney! I love seeing the difficulties of decorating large spaces addressed and broken down in such simple points, don’t you? Hop on over to visit Courtney at his blog Courtney Out Loud to say hello, or to hire him to solve your design dilemmas.
Do any of you have a ‘great room’? Have you employed any of these techniques, using large accessories in scale with your room, or do you struggle with pulling it all together into one cohesive space?