Many of today’s high-end homes have a great room incorporating the functions for the living room and family room and often the dining room and game room. These typically also link to an open-concept kitchen and outdoor space.
This kind of space might seem ideally configured for entertaining, as well as family life, but there are some elements you need to solidify to imbue it with the casual elegance required to make your occasions comfortable yet memorable.
The size and ceiling height of most great rooms can render them intimidating and impersonal if you don’t do the work to bring them down to scale. But go too far the other direction and party guests feel as if they’re intruding on your private life.
It’s a tricky balance, and you may need to move some things around prior to a party, but it can be done.
First, think about the kinds of parties you expect to be having, at least over the next few years. Toddlers, teens, twentysomethings or fiftysomethings all are different animals when it comes to keeping them engaged and occupied, and this will probably affect the décor, materials or floor coverings.
This can make or break a room. Be sure you have adequate lighting, but put all of those fixtures on dimmers so you have control over getting lighting levels exactly right. Provide a diversity of levels and moods across the room. Recessed lighting, wall sconces and chandeliers can all play a role in building interest in the room.
Breaking a great room down into smaller, more functional areas through placement of seating, tables and other partitions is usually a necessity whatever you’re going to use it for. If entertaining is one of its primary functions, envision different conversation places where people can mingle while sitting, standing, eating, playing games or whatever else they might be doing, delineating them with appropriate wall art and other accents.
It goes without saying none of your furniture should impede traffic flow from one part of the room to another, but also make sure the corridors are wide enough for your guests to travel without infringing on anybody else’s activities.
Do keep your screen mounted on the wall so it can be relatively inconspicuous, but leave it on if there’s a live event you want to include in the party or to entertain the kids with video games or programs. If you don’t want the screen to be any sort of distraction, invest in a cabinet or wall mount that can hide it entirely.
As for the audio, a powerful home theater system to cover the entire room may be less ideal than two smaller ones for each end of the great room to please different audiences, but make sure you keep a strong grip on the controls so they don’t begin to compete with each other.