In larger houses, meals and entertainment are enjoyed in separate rooms. However, due to the increased surge of small homes, all areas must converge into a functional living room dining room combo. Here are proven strategies to nail space distribution in living room dining room combos using panels, curtains, furniture or by means of visual tricks. All this helps physically or visually to separate the space without breaking the continuity with the other environment.
If you integrate the dining room into the living room, the result should be two independent environments which at the same time combine and complement with harmony. Therefore, the direct contact should not generate discordances. It is advisable that the division is given by physical elements (panels or curtains), the placement of furniture (shelves, sofas, kitchen islands …) or other visual tricks, like using different colors or materials in each of the spaces we want to define.
The first thing you should do is a choice of decorative style. Then you must have the exact measurements of the room so the passage between furniture is easy. For a good distribution you must take into account not only the space and the utility that you want to give to the environment, but also the comfortable circulation around the area and the transition from inside and outside the space, paying attention to the location of doors and windows, and in respect of the different light sources (daylight, artificial light).
Before making the physical arrangements, take the time to design different distributions on paper. Make an on-scale plan and try all possible options. Note that the flows of circulation (the “paths” or open areas that remain around) must be clearly defined, passing by furniture but never crossing them.
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To start with, you can define the space of the room using a sofa and some entertainment center. The sofa can be placed towards the entertainment center and giving its back to the dining area; this way the sofa acts as a barrier. Another way to organize the living room is based on one or more chairs placed around a low central table. Couches are very good if you add some other complementary seat: an old chair, an armchair or a beanbag chair. The arrangement of chairs and seats around the central table should not stray too far from a form of “U” or “L” according to the space available and the definition of the room itself.
Photo by John Coley on Flickr
1. Use Shelves
An open library is the perfect choice to link two separate rooms or spaces without interfering the visual communication between them; the height of the element will give more or less privacy. A shelf or modular furniture that is hollow on both sides is ideal as it lets light through, avoids darkened areas in the house and generates a feeling of greater amplitude.
2. Open Up the Kitchen
When there are no partitions, it is imperative a special care on the working area of the kitchen so it is integrated in the whole decor. Maintaining harmony promotes continuity between spaces. However, to make a difference between the environments you can play with special coatings for the floor and walls or with height differences.
3. Use Decorative Panels
One way to separate environments without using walls or heavy furniture are decorative panels. There are a lot of panels, from fixed to mobile, which can be run and drawn back. If you want something mobile that can move around whenever needed, the ideal is to use a screen.
4. Use Sliding Doors
Today a suggestion that is widely used to separate areas in a practical way is the sliding doors that act almost like a wall, closing the room from side to side. This allows us to close the area when we want to enjoy more privacy.
5. Separate kitchen from dining room with a kitchen island or bar
Having an open kitchen is a luxury, because it allows us to cook and serve the guests in the same space. One way to visually divide the space between the kitchen and the living room is with a kitchen island. Another option is given by the union of the kitchen to the living room by having a bar with stools; thus it is possible to create a buffer zone between the two rooms which functions as a kind of dining. The downside would be that the bar is too small: in that case, a folding table could be added. For an installation of this type, it is important that the kitchen has good ventilation; otherwise the invasion of smells into the living room could be dreadful.
A long table and chairs or a smaller round table will make your room look larger.
Photo by designmilk on Flickr
Be careful not to overdo the living room dining room combo decoration; the smaller the number of items in the room, the lighter the atmosphere will be. Consequently, the room will appear to be larger. This is a principle that many people overlook.
Among the dining table and furniture or nearest wall there must be a distance of at least 35 inches, although the ideal is that the distance is about 50 inches to allow circulation around the table while it is being used.
Use a pillar or a change of ceiling height or floor on your favor to underline the distribution of areas.
MORE: How To Arrange Living Room Furniture (With blueprints from an architect).