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Great Ideas for Your Great Room

So what is all this talk about great rooms anyway? In fact, you may be wondering, what is a great room?

A great room combines the functionality of several rooms in one large space. Often featuring raised or cathedral ceilings, this room is usually adjacent to the kitchen, separated by a counter or an island instead of a full wall.

Although the concept of a great room is new to many of us, it is reminiscent of the great hall or great chamber in a medieval castle—an enormous central room where family activity and entertaining took place. North American builders began to add a great room to new floor plans in the early 1990s to resolve the dilemma of having two separate rooms—a seldom-used formal living room and an often crowded family room.

These descriptions can help sort out three similar rooms.

The family room is a casual, comfortable place for family and friends to chat, watch TV, or play games. Generally, the family room is located next to the kitchen, and access to the backyard is through one of these two rooms.

The living room, although very similar in appearance to the family room, is designed for more formal occasions. Usually located near the front of the house, in days gone by, this room was referred to as the parlour, sitting room, or drawing room.

A great room includes elements of a family room, living room and even a study in one great (meaning large) room, with high ceilings, located near the center of the home. If you don’t see a living room or family room on that floor, you’re looking at a great room.

Courtesy of

So what can you do with your great room to make it both beautiful and functional?

  • Create defined areas for activities such as: reading/library, home office, television viewing, games (board games, cards etc), comfortable conversation, and casual dining.
  • Set up a portable bar or wine cart—the libation centre.
  • Install hardwood flooring to give your space an open feeling.
  • Add a gas fireplace, if there isn’t one already.
  • Place area rugs to help define activity areas throughout the room.
  • Choose paint and home décor colours that complement each area. A home designer can help pick shades and patterns that work together to complement the room.
  • Select comfortable and versatile chairs and sofas to create two or more activity-based seating areas.
  • Install lighting fixtures for both design accents and functionality (ceiling fan, pot lights, etc.).

Courtesy of Jeanne Grier at Stylish Fireplaces

The home decor service professionals on our directory can help you create a functional great room for your home. You can get years of enjoyment from designing a fabulous, fun, and brilliant space – great fun for your family and friends! How do you enjoy your great room?

By Zoë Waller

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