How to decorate open concept space…

Earlier this week, I spent 2 days working with a busy wife and mother in Marin.  With 2 young children to manage, organizing the house has not been a priority.  However, she has come to realize that if she utilizes the space she has better, she’ll gain efficiency and have a house that her family can be proud of.  As this will be an on-going project, we started to organize and decorate the open concept family/dining room because the impact is visual and immediate.  Her goal is to create a space that provides an eating and study area, as well as an area for the 2 adults to unwind in at the end of a busy day.

Here’s the room as I first saw it, and some of the problems the current furniture placement presents:

An open concept room

Open concept rooms – everyone loves the idea…

Open concept room

The dining portion of the room.

1.  The major focal point in this room is the large patio door/window with a beautiful view of the backyard.  It’s lost here because the furniture placement pushes this room into the fireplace instead.

2.  The home office has been pushed into this “nook” space, competing with the fireplace for attention.

3.  The sofa is used as a room divider, but instead just becomes a blob of gray pushing the room into the fireplace.

4. The dining table placement takes up too much space, which is needed in the living area. It is always covered in clutter, as large vertical surfaces tend to be.

5. The suede chairs look dull and dirty.

6. Two rugs, neither of which are big enough for the space, compete for attention and don’t add anything to the space.

7. A large yellow leather chair and ottoman aren’t able to be used properly because of their placement in the room.

8. A lovely wooden cabinet creates a “block” where is it currently placed.  It is stuffed full of “stuff” instead of having a purpose in the room.

9.  Art work is too small for this very large wall and has nothing to relate to.



Here’s what my client and I did, together, to fix this space:

Open concept room

An open concept room with a purpose.

Open concept room

Repositioning furniture and art make this room feel larger.

1.  We moved the sofa over to the largest wall to anchor it.  It completely changes the direction, focal point and feeling of the room.  Now you can see the beautiful garden in the backyard and still enjoy the fireplace.

2. Moving the office out of the room, just by locating it on the outside of the space, allows everyone in the family to access the computer, but not interfere with the comfort of the living space.

3 & 4. Repositioning and repurposing the wood cabinet and adding it’s matching piece to the other side of the fireplace creates a “built in” effect.  Cabinet 3 houses decorative and dining area needs, cabinet 4 houses all office supplies, crafts and family photos.

5. Moving the chair and ottoman creates a comfy reading area.

6. Placing this small rug under the coffee table anchors the table, give a bit of color, but doesn’t take away from the beautiful floor.

7. Using the 2nd small rug as art, gives it a purpose, covers the large space above the sofa and continues the “organic” texture/feeling of the room.

8. Turning the table in the opposite direction helps make this room feel larger. Decluttering the table and keeping it clear is now possible as things have a home in the two cabinets.

9. Covering the chairs in a burgundy slipcover ties them into the rest of the color scheme in the space.

10. Moving the small colorful art piece into the dining space continues the “free form” and organic nature of the rest of the room.

Her husband was away on a business trip when we did this.  We believe we accomplished her goals, and I can’t wait to hear what her husband has to say!



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