Wide Open Spaces: How To Tame & Decorate Them

by Rhonda Morin

Today’s homes are designed and laid out so our public areas, the family room, kitchen, recreation room, dining room, and living room are open to each other for interaction and family unity. But how are you to decorate these rooms that flow from one space to the next? Most of the time there are no stopping and starting points to paint or wallpaper, no way to have one color or style in one area and a different one in another area. So, how do you decorate these rooms and give them identity, comfort and allow them to remain their own space?

Everyone has heard the words “Form Follows Function.” Let’s break that down for your home. Each room in your home has a function. For some you need a space to eat your meals, play board games, card games, do homework, write letters, pay bills… you get the idea. Because the functions performed are more task oriented, a table and chair combination works best. You may call this a dining room or eating area. The same applies for a family room where you will lounge, take naps, sit and read or watch television. Begin by looking at the function of your particular space and this will dictate what type of furnishings you will need.

To flow or not to flow, that is the question! Some designers will tell you that if you have open public areas that they need to have the same colors, same themes, same types of window treatments and artwork. This is true and not true, at the same time! Our minds like like-minded things. If you can find something in one room or one area that you can connect to another room or area you will feel comfortable, stable and the rooms will seem to flow together nicely. This is done easily by selecting a color, theme, accessory, or piece of artwork.

Let’s try some real life examples. Say you have a family room, kitchen and dining area that are all open to each other. In order to get them to flow we could use a Nautical theme. This allows you to use boat accessories like ores, netting, boardwalk lights, reels, and fishing poles in one area or room, lighthouses in another, and carved duck decoys, artwork with Nautical scenes, or prints of beaches and oceans in yet another.

We could also flow the spaces together by painting the walls the same color in all the rooms, but use different accent colors to make each room appear different. You could also begin with a patterned fabric for the family room and use similar color and style patterns in the kitchen and dining room. You do this by using a large print in the family room, small print in the dining area, plaid in the kitchen and accent with solids, stripes or patterned upholstery fabrics in the same colors and style. The window treatments, fabrics, wall colors, accessories and artwork would not need to be the same in each room, they are simply coordinated and alike in color and style.

When decorating you must keep in mind your preferred style. If you are creating a traditional interior keep everything traditional, if you want to use a very contemporary style then go contemporary. For the most part, if you mix and match your style the room will not feel connected. This is true for colors, patterns, types of furniture, artwork and accessories. There are exceptions to this of course! Small added pieces like a contemporary painting or vase to a traditional room or a traditional sideboard in a contemporary dining room are sometimes just enough to make your home YOUR home.

Be creative, have fun and don’t let your decorating projects overwhelm you. Take your time and relax. Think through and plan each project before starting, it saves you tons of headaches in the long run. And lastly, remember to enjoy your open areas!

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