Smart seating and warm elements turn an open space into an inviting living area.
Q. I need help arranging a space my floor plan labels as "Dining Room," but I'd like to use as our living room. Can you tell me where the TV, sofa and chairs should go? How can I break up the space to make it more functional? And what can I do with the chandelier that was supposed to be over the dining table?
— A.C., Huntsville, Ala. (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)
A. It should be easy to transform your dining room into a living room. Our inspiration shot is a great example of what can be done in a room like yours — not too large with a soaring ceiling and plenty of windows for natural light. In the inspiration room, a beautiful stone fireplace is the anchoring focal point. Consider investing in an electric fireplace that comes with a mantel, like the Kenton from Dimplex (not shown). Its hefty profile and classic white finish will add nice substance to your space; install it between the two windows behind your sofa and place your TV above it. If you don't want a fireplace, try a media cabinet like the Collector's Classics Chester cabinet from Ethan Allen. With its weighty proportions and rustic pine construction, it can also act as a strong focal point.
Then, build a seating area around the focal point. Instead of a single sofa, two matching ones facing each other will offer plenty of seating. I like the Bleeker three-seater sofa from Rowe. It's similar to the one you have now, but with a slimmer profile and taller turned legs, so it feels lighter. A dark upholstery colour like navy will ground the space. Fill out the seating area with two plush armchairs and a low-profile coffee table.
You need a ceiling light with more oomph — something that will add interest but also intimacy. A large pendant like the steel Polyhedron from Restoration Hardware would be perfect. It's over 40" in diameter, so its scale will suit the generous space, and its geometric shape is an unexpected modern contrast to the traditional sofas.
To cosy things up, bring in a few textural pieces. Place a collection of chenille throws in a chunky woven-water hyacinth basket, all from Pier 1 Imports, next to one sofa to provide a hit of colour and an organic touch.