Living room dining room combos – open concept design and decoration
Open floor plans are the most ambitious home design style right now. Informal, relaxed and spacious, it is a format that lends itself to both family living and adult entertaining spaces.
Open plan bedrooms are not without drawbacks, however. The potential pitfalls of decor are many. Often, large rooms will host both the living room and the dining room, but how do you unify these spaces while ensuring that everyone sings to themselves?
As with any living room idea, the most important thing, according to designer Marie Flanigan, is to really think about your family’s needs so that the space “best serves your household.”
Designer Scott Sanders says he loves large rooms with multiple functions because “it’s a great way to divide up space and create a compelling visual narrative.”
Meanwhile, according to designer Bo Massey, “It’s important that all furniture and finishes are coordinated in order to have a cohesive space. And if you happen to be working with a rather small footprint, be sure to reduce furniture as much as possible while still maintaining comfort.
In living-dining room combos, the two areas should be in harmony, says designer Philip Gorrivan, “but there should be some sort of transition between them to keep the room energized and accommodating.”
Read on for more pro tips on creating the perfect living room-dining room combo.
Deco tips for living room dining room combos
1. Keep furniture low
Although they’re empty, living-dining room combos tend to look quite expansive. But as soon as you have added furniture, your dining table and some chairs to your living room, you realize how important it is to scale everything.
Although this penthouse condo is a bit limited in terms of total square footage, it was important to designer Nina Magon to give her clients unique yet cohesive living and dining spaces.
“We used low, modern furniture in each space to allow a harmonious flow from one to the other,” explains Nina. High-backed furniture would have been awkward, interrupting sight lines. “The two areas feel matched and separate, but not cut off from each other. The open layout works well for lounging with family or entertaining guests.
2. Place high storage on the sides as subtle dividers
In this city apartment designed by Philip Gorrivan, the living room and dining room take up one large room. Because the spaces are so close together, they share both a living room color scheme and an area rug.
However, a console table and a high cabinet placed between these two areas help to visually separate them. “When it comes to urban living, it’s essential that space is used properly,” says Gorrivan. “This piece is divided with different purposes in mind, while maintaining a clear flow, both for ease of movement and ease of living.”
By positioning these storage units to the side of the room, they do not interfere with sight lines, but they do help to subtly cause a distinction between the two areas.
For the living and dining areas to maintain their own boundaries, it is crucial that the furniture clearly differentiates the areas. “Each area should be easily delineated and the furniture should not be confused because it can look cluttered,” says designer Thomas Jayne.
In this neutral living room, for example, there are several visual cues that help divide the two functions. The living room is designated with the help of the section, the windows and the light fixture; and the dining room, near the sideboard and a different light fixture. In a case like this, Jayne suggests, “You should make the furniture relate, but also make sure it has its own identity.”
4. Commit to a single pallet
According to designer Scott Sanders, maintaining a consistent color palette throughout the white living room and dining areas is key to a “cohesive and sophisticated design.” For my own apartment, white upholstery matches the architecture, while hints of orange connect with vintage Mexican tile floors, and natural woven carpeting adds warmth. Working in this color palette paved the way for vibrant art and accents everywhere.
In fact, the whole room is full of colorful treasures that Sanders and his partner have collected over the years. But, by keeping the main palette white, the space doesn’t look crowded. “These items speak to us and make our home feel special and personal.”
5. Separate areas with area rugs
In this house, a large room in height contains both the dining room and the living room. Designer Marie Flanigan focused on creating a multifunctional space that was both open and comfortable. The best living room rug ideas aren’t just about what you step on, but can also determine how well the space functions.
“We needed to compartmentalize the room, and the best way to delineate different areas is to add rugs, which anchor and define a space,” says Flanigan. “You’ll notice that these rugs are very similar in size, allowing for symmetry between the living room and dining room while creating a natural path through the room.”
6. Create a soothing space for day and night
Informal areas help make this large, expansive room more accessible. “This is where the family spends most of their time together, and the room works just as well for large cocktail parties as it does for small family gatherings,” notes designer Heather Hilliard.
The only color comes from the leaves of the indoor tree, a nod to the expanse of green seen through the Crittal-style doors.
“In order to unify the spaces, we kept the color palette consistent. When you need a lot of tall furniture in a room, soothing neutral colors work well and don’t overwhelm the space.
7. Separate areas with a half wall
In this contemporary residence where the living room and the dining room are open to one another, the designer Nina Magon has redoubled her artifice. By putting a half wall between the two areas but leaving what could have been a doorway unfilled, there is a distinction between the two, but still a sense of lightness and space.
Choosing colorful and sculptural pieces for both rooms helps the home feel luxurious and cohesive. “We wanted them to have the same bold aesthetic in order to complement each other,” says Magon. “We selected unique and eye-catching pieces for both areas that fit well together.”
8. Embed the dining room in a corner
Designer Marie Flanigan wanted to provide her clients with a large multifunctional room that could be used as an entertainment area or a comfortable family room for visiting their children and grandchildren.
“By incorporating a dining area between the kitchen and the living room, homeowners have great versatility in how they function within the space,” says Flanigan. “The table and bench can be used as a dining area, extra seating at a party or as a serving station. But above all, it is not cut off from the comfortable seating area, which is the most appreciated space in the house.
9. Make the Most of Architectural Details
Thanks to the columns, the living room and dining room of this residence can function both as stand-alone spaces and as a larger entertaining space. “We wanted each space to be separate from each other, but you can also enjoy family and guests no matter where you are,” says designer Nina Magon.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to have columns, you can take the features of the room and turn them to your advantage. Perhaps there are panels on the wall that separate the two, or a joint in the floor type. Be creative with what you have.
How far apart should the living room and dining room be in an open space?
When a room contains different zones, it is essential that there is enough space for each zone. “Be aware of the space between the groups,” says designer Bo Massey. “We try to keep a minimum of 36 inches between areas to allow physical passage and avoid visual clutter.”
It is possible to keep the pieces linked to each other, despite this physical distance. “The repetition of colors and materials allows the furniture and lighting to come together and create a sense of unity as opposed to discordance,” says Bo.