Furniture placement anchors the visual boundaries of a great room.

How to Separate a Great Room Into Two Areas

by Alicia Garey

Great rooms often incorporate multiple activities at any given time. Defining this typically large, open space is best achieved when you know the purpose of the room. Some great rooms are for dining and entertaining. Others are for playing music in one part of the space and seating in another. A great room is also a prime place for a library combined with areas to read or relax. No matter what the purposes are, a great room requires some consideration to bring visual balance and livability to its open space.


To understand the potential of a great room and avoid the cavernous feeling that comes with everything centered in the middle, free floating, it is important to take measurements of the space and note windows, doors and other features of the room, such as a fireplace or outlets and wall switches. A sketch is a helpful tool that allows you to see the possibilities. At the very least, measure and put masking tape on the floor in areas where rugs and furniture will go to help you understand the scale.


For a space that has two distinct functions, such as dining and entertaining, use light and color for each purpose. Install shelving for media on one wall, place a rug appropriate to the scale of the space and use different lighting zones for demarcation. In the dining area hang a light fixture over the table to strengthen its identification. For a clear separation of the two areas, paint one of the areas a distinctly different color from the other. For instance, media spaces benefit from dark walls and could be a deep taupe, while the dining space could be three shades lighter in the same color range.


For physical separation of the two areas, use a pair of standing screens, which come in a wide variety of styles. Placed on either side of the large space, they create a clear division of the two areas. Similarly, install floor-to-ceiling curtains on either side of a large space, kept open for easy flow or completely closed for total separation. For a more obvious separation of a very large great room, install free-standing shelving, placed perpendicular from one wall, that is open on both sides, allowing you to see both areas but physically separates them. Always keep in mind how people travel through the space and provide at least 3 feet on either side.

Rugs and Symmetry

Rugs are a sure way to delineate zones within a large area. Start with a foundation of two rugs, one for each area. The rugs can be different styles as long as they are harmonious in color and texture. For a symmetrical arrangement use identical rugs in both areas with space in between them to distinguish separate groupings. Find the center of the room and place sofas with backs facing each other to create two conversation areas.To further enhance this look, put pairs of the same chairs in each area. Center a console on one wall and place the same lamps on either side, further dividing but also uniting the two distinct spaces. Duplicating items on both sides of the space brings cohesion to the room while creating two zones.

About the Author

Based in California, Alicia Garey has been writing interior design articles since 2013 for the Huffington Post. She is featured in California Paints' Designer palette, and designed "Loft" for The Sofa Company. She studied interior design at UCLA, and is an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers.

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