Buyer's Guides

Buyer’s Guide: The Multi-Purpose Dining and Living Room

Since the 1990s, open floor plans and open concept living have been popular in new home designs. Even with older homes, renovation goals often include combining the dining room and living room.

Aesthetically, one of the great things about a combined dining and living room is that sense of openness. Living in open concept spaces keeps us connected, even when everyone is in a different area.

However, multi-purpose spaces do have their own set of challenges. Unlike traditional floor plans that keep furniture and accessories in designated rooms, multi-purpose rooms can sometimes look and feel cluttered. And while great for entertaining and social activity, it can be hard to find a quiet space for reading or study.

Here are some tried and tested tips and tricks to creating a dining-living room that works for you.

Lay the Groundwork

Conrad Rug, Park Extension Table

Since open floor plans lack walls or obvious dividers, area rugs are a foolproof way to define each space and establish traffic flow. Place an area rug in each space or put down a large natural sisal rug to tie the rooms together. You can always put the accent on coziness by layering on a plush hand-woven accent rug in the living room seating area.

Join the Less-is-More Club

Essentials Rectangle Dining Table, Essentials Round Coffee Table, & Essentials Kidney Shaped Desk

One thing to keep in mind when furnishing your dining-living room is that the more furniture and accessories you place in the room, the smaller the space will seem.

For a large space, you can create balance with larger furniture pieces. Double up on sofas to create a luxurious seating area and complement it with a large dining table and matching chairs.

Matching the dining room table and chairs adds symmetry to the space. Even if the table doubles as a place for doing crafts or school work, dining room furniture that complements each other in material or color give the room a more formal flavor when guests come for dinner.

When it comes to furniture placement, let a focal point like a fireplace or bay window guide you. You’ll never go wrong creating a space around the things you love the most in any room.

Hit the Lights

Hopper Chandelier & Plaster No.1 Pendant Light Photo Credit: Sam Cram Design. Photo: Ruby and Peach Photography.

Take advantage of rooms that lack features by creating your own. A showpiece chandelier above your dining table can really make a statement. Choose a linear chandelier to light up a long rectangular dining table or a sensational Sputnik chandelier for ambient light above a round table. Adding dimmer switches to your dining room or living room lighting is a simple but very effective way to set the tone when entertaining.

To create flow and maintain site lines, opt for stylish glass pendant lights that draw the eye without obstructing views.

For versatile, overhead lighting in the living room, a swooping arc floor lamp over a sectional sofa makes a dramatic addition. A side table topped with a table lamp creates a cozy corner for reading or homework.

Wall sconces are great for highlighting wall art and introducing another layer of light to the space.

Opt for Double Duty Designs

Margo Shelf

Open plans create a sense of ease, but without thoughtful planning these spaces can quickly feel cluttered. Before bringing any item into the room, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you can use it in more than one way.

Side tables with hidden (or obvious) storage get top billing for leading a double life. They can hold drinks and snacks when entertaining and keep work supplies or books and toys tucked away. For good looks and practicality, a pedestal base cantilevered accent table pulls up alongside a sofa or armchair, ready to rest a laptop, book or a drink.

Topped with a tray, a storage ottoman doubles as a coffee table. Plus, it’s perfect for storing everything from throws to toys.

If the back of your sofa divides the two spaces, why not place a storage console behind it. Wall units with both shelves and cabinets display art work and photos while storing dishes, barware or games.

To quickly transition from family fun zone to entertaining, a tiered trolley table on wheels keeps craft supplies, games and books organized and doubles as a bar service when guests roll in.

Color Coordination

Monarch Butterfly One Light Mini Pendant Light

Nothing ties a room together like color. It’s one of those designing truths that never change.

That’s not to say that you should be afraid to play with color. Keeping an overall palette of neutrals while accessorizing each area with its own colors can give each space its own distinctive personality.

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