8 Useful Great Room Layout Ideas

December 10, 2020

Customizing your living space to work well takes a keen awareness of how you like to live. It also takes an eye for space, color, size, and most of all function. The time you spend defining your needs and experimenting with different layouts can be a lot of fun and very worthwhile. When it comes to having a great room in your custom home, you have a lot of options. Great rooms often combine multiple rooms into one large space, which gives you a lot of layout options. Here are some considerations and layout ideas for your great room:

1. Include Other Household Members in the Planning

If you live with others, it’s a good idea to include them in your planning. If they aren’t, you may inadvertently create a room in which they feel uncomfortable and therefore won’t use. Living with others will also generate more visitors.

The great room, therefore, becomes both a place to relax and converse for inhabitants and a primary greeting place for visitors. More inhabitants and more visitors mean a need for more seating.

In this case, your great room may focus more on providing comfortable seating and less on heavy decor in order to keep the space as open as possible for socializing. By including other family members in the planning, you can narrow down how you will be using the great room, which can help inform the best layout for it.

2. Define the Key Characteristics of the Room

A room is easier to design when you define qualities to focus on. Some key characteristics of living with others are “welcoming,” “comfortable,” and “inclusive.” What kinds of furniture embody these three characteristics? What colors or combinations embody these characteristics?

For example, what would happen if you chose your favorite color for the primary one, someone else’s for secondary, and an accent color that the most divisive of your cohabitants likes? Great rooms and open-concept floor plans are common in A-frame homes and other home designs. Creating a layout to help define key characteristics can help you design a great room that works.

Create Specific Zones

Your great room should feel cohesive, but you can still create some separation to help distinguish different zones or areas. By giving each area its own distinctive qualities through decor and color, you can help delineate functions clearly and with visual cues.

The key characteristics are also more than colors and the atmosphere you want to create; they also include the furniture groupings and different uses your great room needs to encompass. You can further define zones with furniture groupings, which is one of the ways to define spaces in an open concept floor plan.

3. Determine the Focal Point

Where does the eye travel when you first enter the room? Where does it linger? That’s your natural focal point. Design the layout to emphasize it. If there isn’t one, create one. A fireplace one of the great room design ideas and is a natural focal point and so is a bank of windows.

You can lay out a seating arrangement around the fireplace that encompasses it or one that faces the windows. If there isn’t a natural focal point, walk into the room and see where you automatically want to stop. Try arranging seating in that area and let the rest of the room flow around it.

An unbalanced layout is one of the common interior design mistakes, but using a focal point can help you avoid it. Determining a focal point and using that to help decorate and arrange the room can help you create a more balanced layout. 

4. Narrow Down a Focal Point for Specific Zones Too

As you lay out and define specific zones in your great room, you can also determine a focal point for each of them to help build out your furniture groupings. In a dining area, the focal point is likely the dining room table while in a more relaxed, conversational space a statement coffee table might be the focal point for that area.

Once you know how many zones you want to include in your great room, about where in the room they will be, and how you want to distinguish them from each other, then you can work on the focal points for each section. The entire room will need to flow together, but using a focal point in each zone or section can help you determine the best layout for that section or zone and the room overall.

5. Consider Common Foot Traffic Paths

Another one of the useful great room layout ideas is to consider common foot traffic paths. People will be moving around and through the room and how they tend to move through the room can help inform some of your layout decisions.

For example, hosting visitors also generally requires feeding them. Whether you serve in the kitchen or another part of the great room, you will want to place furniture so there is a direct path open to the kitchen. This will be useful to your family and to visitors.

You will also want a direct path open to the nearest restroom. Design your layout so there is a seating arrangement that traffic flows around to both of those places. You don’t want to lay out the room in a way that blocks access or makes moving through the room or between zones difficult.

6. Keep Your Furniture Away From the Walls

In a great room, you don’t want to push your furniture up against the walls. This is one of the great room design mistakes to avoid. Instead, keep it away from the walls or “float your furniture”. This is one of the great room layout ideas that can make a big difference in the look and feel of the room.

By having space behind the furniture, you help protect your walls and you also make the room look bigger and more open. At the same time, creating space in these ways can also separate the different areas of your room based on their function.

7. Create Symmetry

Using your furniture to create symmetry draws the eye and makes your great room look and feel cohesive. Doubling up sofas or chairs in the living area and aligning them with the lines of your dining table or kitchen is an easy way to create symmetry between areas while also defining their separate functions.

8. Get Creative with Cozy Corners

If you’re stuck on where to begin with your great room, the corners can be a great place to start. With an open floor plan, you have a lot of freedom and the corners can provide a lot of space and structure for one of the zones you need to create.

Breakfast nooks and dining areas are often a popular choice for corners. But, corners can also be a great place to create a cozy sitting area. It all depends on what you want to include in your great room, but using the corners can allow you to create a specific zone while leaving more space available towards the middle of the room.

This could be a useful approach for creating more space between zones. Not only can this help define specific zones further, but it can also keep your great room from feeling cluttered. Additionally, the extra space could help you create more comfortable pathways for people to move throughout the room.

There are more layout ideas for your great room available, but including just these design elements and considerations in your initial layout will produce a satisfying, effective living space that you and your family can enjoy.