I’m back today with another reader design dilemma! Karen writes:
I have an open-concept living and dining room. I am trying to complete the decor for my dining room and am somewhat at a loss for ideas. How do I balance these rooms? Currently one side (the living room) seems heavier than the other. There is more color in the living area vs. the dining space. I guess my question would be how and/or what should I bring in to add color in the dining room to balance out this open floor plan .
Open-concept floor plans are great, but they can present some design hurdles. Creating flow and balance can be a little tough to navigate. Karen’s already off to a great start! I think with just a few tweaks she’ll get the design results she’s after.
What You Do to One Side, You Should Do To the Other
I’ve been helping my 7th grader with algebra homework lately, so you’ll have to excuse the design parallels I’m drawing upon here. But just as in an equation, one way to create balance in two separate but joined spaces is in using replication. Or as we say when solving for x, what you do to one side, you should do to the other. Karen’s already headed down this path using matching rugs. I’d say another way to really drive home balance and continuity between these two spaces would be with matching curtain panels.
A few matching statements won’t feel overly redundant, especially in such a large open space, but will really join the spaces together nicely. I think an always-in-style buffalo check would be beautiful with Karen’s aesthetic, but since they’re isn’t a ton of pattern already in the space, there are lots of alternatives that could work well here.
Balance the Weight
Living spaces as opposed to dining spaces tend to have more furniture in them. I think in this instance one thing that is throwing Karen off isn’t necessarily color but weight. The large sectional sofa is much heavier looking than her dining table and chairs. Looking from the living space into the dining space the matching table and chairs basically makes one statement. There’s no real visual separation between the pieces of furniture in there.
Two simple ways to add some weight, depth and dimension would be to first swap the end chairs for something taller and slipcovered.
And second would be to bring in a chandelier over the table creating a nice focal point behind the sofa.
The combination of these two design elements/changes would balance the visual weight of the sofa.
Carry the Accent Color Throughout
Typically to create seamless flow from room to room in a home where lots of color is used you would take whatever is used as a main color in one space and use that same color in a smaller dose in the next. This way every room looks unique yet feels continuous. In this case since Karen has used a base of neutral toned colors and accented with red tones, I would recommend continuing with that same accent color in the dining room. A small dose of red goes a long way. Swapping out the lamps on the buffet with something in red would be the perfect finishing cherry on top. And since there isn’t much in the way of pattern in here, I’d go with a patterned lamp base for a pop of something unexpected and interesting.
Bringing It All Together
In addition to the things I mentioned above, I’d also layer the rug in the living space over a larger natural fiber rug to add texture and better ground the size of the sofa. Lightening up the sofa with some throw pillows in that gorgeous John Robshaw pattern will tie in with the slipcovered chairs and ivory color in the rug.
So what do you think? Those of you with open-concept floor plans how do you tackle balance in your home? Do you have any other suggestions for Karen?
Thank you to Karen for submitting a space for this series! If you have a design dilemma you’d like for me to tackle here on the blog, shoot me an email at Carmel@ourfifthhouse.com with “Design Dilemma” in the subject line. I’d love to help you brainstorm design ideas!