Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
Picture the layout of your ideal living space: is it traditional and structured or an open plan that flows from one area to another? There’s no right answer. There are benefits to having separate rooms in your home—quiet, privacy, coziness—but there’s something so friendly and welcoming about a more casual multipurpose concept.
Outfitting a large space takes planning, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here’s how to design a great room your family will love.
It’s usually some combination of a living room, dining room, and kitchen, all in one open space. The plus is that it’s a multifunctional layout that feels more casual. The downside is that it can be a challenge to furnish such a large room in a way that feels cozy and intimate.
We always recommend dividing up the space to create multiple seating areas instead of filling it up with consoles and armoires along the perimeter that you don’t use. We usually start with separating it into quadrants—in my case, the kitchen, dining area, then two seating areas.
We inherited a gas-insert fireplace in a corner of the room. We reframed it so it is proportional between two huge doors and updated the surround with black quartz, which is a nice contrast to all of the light in the room. For seating, I got these oversize teddy bear chairs that I’ve always wanted; the fabric is this super-soft wool bouclé that just feels like a hug. We added a round antique coffee table and hung art above it that I love. Now it’s comfy.
That’s where we have the TV, so we wanted to make sure we had enough seating, both for watching TV and entertaining. We are making a cocktail table and sofa, plus a pair of swivel chairs that we use in most projects—they allow you to pivot wherever you want. There’s also an antique wingback chair that probably no one will sit in, but it’s the cutest thing ever. I also found a pair of midcentury stools to sit in front of the media console. In all, you could technically have eight people seated in this area comfortably, plus the fireplace chairs and the barstools.
I always recommend the shallow-frame TVs that you hang on the wall, with a media console for storage below. A lot of people want built-ins to house the TV, but you really need to consider the architecture of the room. I removed my built-ins because they were intersecting with the beams in the ceiling and looked anything but built-in. Ideally you want to go into a wall to create a built-in, versus come out of it.
A properly sized area rug is key to anchor the seating area—I always love jute rugs for a great room because they’re made from natural fibers, free of chemicals, and really soft. In terms of color scheme, I went with army green linen upholstery and layered in black pillows and throws to echo the black kitchen cabinets and slate fireplace surround.
I always make sure I have enough antiques to bring in character, especially when there are so many new, custom pieces like the sofa and cocktail table. I have antique side tables and stools, plus the wingback chair and the coffee table by the fireplace. Artwork and lighting go a long way too.
Break up a great room into cozy moments with comfortable seating that can flex for entertaining.