Whether you own a home with a great room or a condo with a combined living room and dining area, it can be a challenge to decorate a living room with dining area so that the two areas remain separate, but complementary.
Where does one start? Do you start in the dining room and let it determine the look of the two spaces? Or do you start in the living room? Should they be the same color? Should they have the same furniture styles? What about fabrics and textures?
There seems to be more questions than answers, that's for sure. But it's not that hard to work with these two spaces, if you take some time to decide exactly what's important to you and make a few basic design decisions that will set the tone and direction of your decorating plans.
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The first thing to consider is how the two rooms flow together. In other words, you don't want them to look different, but complementary. So the styles and colors should work together. They don't have to be the same mind you; they just need to create a nice visual balance.
Perhaps more important is the color scheme of the two rooms. Because they usually share common walls, you should pick a wall color that works with both rooms. If you have the luxury of buying new furniture, you can select a main color for the fabric of the sofa that will work with a second and third color. You can then use these secondary colors for the occasional chairs in the living room and the chairs in the dining room.
This allows the two rooms to blend together while retaining their own personality.
With the walls, you can use a main color on the walls that run seamlessly from the one room to the other and then add a second accent to a shorter wall, such as a wall in the dining room. Just be sure that these colors work with the fabrics you've selected. You don't want guests to ask when the circus is coming to town. Remember, it's important to keep a visual flow between the two rooms, not create two separate rooms. If you want to do that, build a wall instead.
The same principle works for all your accessorizing as well. For example, all the window treatments should match. If you use one type of blinds in the living room you should use them in the dining room, too.
Even though the two rooms need to be tied together, they don't have to be identical. For example, you could go with a nice modern sofa grouping in the living room and accent it with an ebony dining room table in the dining area. That said, you don't want to put a heavy oak dining table in the dining area and try to force it to live in harmony with a black and chrome entertainment center that can be seen in the living room. There's a fine line between eclectic and gaudy.
To further define the spaces, use different lighting. You can go with a nice chandelier over the dining area and then choose lamps for the living room that pick up basic elements of its design. If the chandelier has a nice brushed chrome surface, you could add table and floor lamps that use brushed chrome accents in the living room, even if the main color is different. Just be sure that the lamps are useful as well as stylish. Good lighting is essential for creating dining areas and living rooms that are functional as well as beautiful.
As you look at ways to decorate a living room with a dining area attached, resist the temptation to think of the two areas as being different visually, even though they serve very different purposes. You'll find your decorating project a much more pleasurable experience if you do.