Plan a “zone” for each great room activity: cooking, dining, entertaining, media viewing, conversation, play, and, importantly, unobstructed passageways around and through the room that won’t disturb ongoing activities.
Define functional areas through furniture arrangements, flooring, and carpets -- durable, food and drink-proof surfaces where children eat or friends gather around the cooking center; an area rug to set off comfortable seating; runners to define pathways; a throw rug to pull together a cozy reading nook with high-backed chair and ottoman.
Position seating to take advantage of a focal point -- or several -- television, fireplace, and an appealing window view. Or create your own accent wall with modular components. The entertainment console from Nautica’s Modern Gatherings line is functional and stylish. Multiple components combine the beauty of furniture with custom accommodations for the latest media paraphernalia, storage, and lighted display of your favorite treasures.
Consider the scale of the room when selecting furnishings, balancing the visual weight of pieces with the size and height of the room. Strong, simple fabrics and large pieces of art also anchor a room without adding visual clutter.
Choose furnishings for function as well as beauty. Tables with drawers and shelves add valuable, convenient storage; a versatile ottoman topped with a tray becomes an impromptu cocktail table; one with a lift top can store a winter throw inside. A simple desk doubles for homework as well as entertainment planning and carpool scheduling.
With so much going on in one space, it’s important to tie the room together visually. Select a neutral base cloth for major upholstery, adding one or two accent fabrics on a chair or throw pillows to bring in texture and color. Accessorize with fewer -- rather than more -- well-chosen pieces in scale with the room.