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Great Room Photo Gallery
There is often confusion between the differences between living rooms, great rooms, and family rooms.
What exactly is a Great Room?
Quite simply, a great room can be identified by several features, one of which is location.
A living room, in the absence of a parlor or sitting room, is typically located near the front entrance. A family room tends to be nearer to the kitchen. A Great Room, in comparison, is centrally located; a kind of crossroads for the home.
Great rooms also frequently feature high ceilings. In a multi-story home, the great room will be overlooked by an upstairs hallway or a balcony. As a combination of the functions of a living room and a family room, a great room will usually feature both a fireplace and a television, and will be open to or have an adjoining kitchen and dining area.
We hope you’ll enjoy this collection of spacious great rooms, and that you’ll be inspired to bring the style back into vogue!
Great rooms came into vogue in the 1990s, when formal living rooms were considered “dead.” The initial idea was to combine the functions of living rooms, family rooms, and even studies into one “great” room, inspired by Medieval Great Halls.
These rooms were popular in all new construction throughout the 90’s and most of the 2000’s. In 2007, they fell out of fashion in favor of more rooms, rather than larger rooms.
Even though great rooms have fallen out of fashion, they remain a great way to make an impression upon your guests–if you have the room to spare.
They make excellent entertainment areas, since they’re so close to the kitchen and dining rooms. So if you’re a frequent entertainer, you may enjoy the cavernous, stately great room where your guests will never feel cramped or crowded.
These large living areas are designed in many styles; in fact any interior design style can be applied.
That said, some styles are more commonly used for great rooms than others. For instance, Victorian design doesn’t too often include a great room; however, the chalet style is often a great room living area design.
Pros and Cons
Like all things in design and home improvement, there are pretty many pros and cons to every decision and design element.
Terrific gathering space: These large spaces are great for families that like being around one-another as well as for parties and get-togethers.
Expansive, open feel: This is my favorite benefit of great rooms. I love the feeling of being in large, open spaces.
Plenty of light: All windows in the space illuminate the space.
Many furniture arrangement options: Because it’s open concept, you don’t have walls or steps blocking the way you’d like to arrange furniture and other elements of the room. You have a great deal of flexibility. Moreover, large spaces that great rooms provide make it possible to buy large furniture. I’m a huge fan of huge furniture. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a huge fan of great rooms and open concept living.
Lacks privacy: Sometimes you don’t want to be around everyone else. When a home is one large great room (other than bathrooms and bedrooms), it’s difficult to get your own space.
Noisy: Sound travels throughout the entire space. If someone is watching TV and you wish to read or be in a quiet area, you’re out of luck.
Great Room Design Ideas
Great Rooms have become a design staple in residential homes since the early 1990’s. Modeled after Medieval Great Halls, they are rooms centrally located in a home with a vast openness designed for entertaining, eating or just relaxing.
When designing a great room, you will have a lot to consider and budget for. This ultimate guide is designed to explore the vast array of options and features you should take the time to consider for your great room.
Everything from room elements to colors, styles and even furniture and accessories is taken into account to give you the best idea of what to look forward to as you begin your design and budget plans.
Your budget is going to be the key factor in the overall design of your great room. By definition, these rooms aren’t small, and you will need to account for the extra space when considering things such as materials, flooring, paint, and furniture.
The good news is that if you decide to design a great room you can add to your budget by removing budget items for other rooms in your home such as the study, the living room, den, and even dining rooms and kitchens.
Because the great room will incorporate most all of these rooms entirely and functionality and parts from the others, you can take the allotted budget from those rooms and apply to the great room.
Square footage will be the base factor of all of the costs for the design. Even if you have a tiny space and want to convert it to a great room, you can. Knowing the square footage of the space will help your budget and plans. To get the square footage, you simply measure the length of the space by the width.
It is always a good idea to overestimate when purchasing for square footage. Flooring, for example, will end up costing more in the long run if you purchase for exacts and come up short.
The extra costs will come in adding supplies, labor and time, and delivery of the extra flooring. If you overestimate and have too much, the leftover flooring can be saved, re-purposed or disposed of at far greater savings.
On average, a new addition or constructed great room can cost between $21,000 and $63,000. If you already have the space and are just converting it into a great room, you can expect to pay in the range of $5,000 to $30,000 depending on materials and design elements.
Just because the name says that it is a great room doesn’t mean great has to be the size of it. Great rooms come in all sizes: Large, medium, small and even tiny.
Tiny great rooms will not be able to incorporate all the aspects of the traditional great room design. However, this does not mean you can’t design a great room that isn’t spectacular, if only smaller.
When your great room space is tiny, you really need to plan for every article. Lamps may be replaced with overhead lighting and couches with love seats or a recliner. Another thing to take into consideration is storage and shelving. You can save space for more furniture or entertainment pieces by having shelving built in instead of freestanding.
Small rooms are rooms less than 500 square feet. Using a small area as a great room will mean you have to accommodate fewer features of the “normal” great room options. Your budget will be more open though as you get to concentrate on what is important to you for that space.
If you plan to entertain, then you can forego a fireplace and add a larger television, for example. You can also add more seating and less shelving.
On the other hand, if you plan to use the space to relax or as an adjoining space to a dining room or kitchen you can allocate your budget to making those tie-ins.
Medium spaces are in the range of 500 to 900 square feet. These rooms will hold most aspects of a great room with simplicity and still allow you to have that open feel that great rooms can offer.
In Medium sized rooms you have the options for changing the vibe of the room from one end to the other. One one side you can have your recliners and bookshelves and fireplace, while on the other end you can have tables and chairs and other accents for meals and parties.
Furniture is going to be the key aspect of your medium sized great room and depending on the colors and styles you choose will tie the room together to give you a look and feel you want. Don’t be afraid to accessorize and make full use of large pane windows for natural lighting in the space.
Large great rooms make the perfect size great rooms to really pack in all the features you can while still maintaining the open feel the rooms were designed for. Furniture and accents can be placed in the room seemingly at will and give you whatever aspect you are looking for.
Fireplaces and lots of shelving are common in large-sized great rooms. You can also include your home gym in the design as well. You should, however, take into consideration the flooring and heating and cooling of the space. Because they are open design, and usually with very high ceilings, these costs need to be considered in your budget.
C. Colors and Styles
When you are designing your great room, it is easy to get carried away with what furniture you will put in the space or what accents and features you will use. While these are important, you should take a moment to think about your overall style.
Great rooms will make excellent use of any style out there, with the most common being Modern, Contemporary and Industrial. Feel free to choose whatever style you prefer. It can tie in with the rest of your home, or it can be something completely different.
Whatever you choose, knowing the style before making large purchases such as fireplaces and furniture will save you time and money.
Modern style is, by far, the most popular choice of style for great rooms. They offer the use of natural textures such as leather and wood and usually get decorated with unadorned features such as drawers without knobs and an overall sleek and finished design.
If you go modern, you will have more options for leather furniture and will be able to accent with various textures such as linen and wool. The overall modern design is one of comfort and warmth, which is why it is very popular in large areas such as great rooms.
Contemporary design is another highly popular style for great rooms. Contemporary styles make use of bold colors and softened details, such as rounded lines and shapes.
Contemporary is popular because it is ever changing. You can make your home look any way you prefer with a contemporary design and then change your mind later and still maintain the contemporary look. Lighting is important in a contemporary design, and natural light should be abundant in the space.
Industrial design styles are very popular in great rooms because they accentuate the vast open space. Most of the design elements are taken from factory and industrial era machines and pieces. Sharp edges with dark, bold colors are key.
If you have a desk in your great room, for example, you may choose a metal desk or a large metallic drafting table instead of a Mission desk. The industrial design allows you to play around with bold accent choices and show off your artistic appeal without detracting from the space.
Besides great space and an open floor plan, great rooms have features that most other rooms, such as bedrooms and kitchens, won’t generally offer.
Fireplaces are very common in great rooms, and the larger ones may have more than one. When deciding on a fireplace (or two), your design style should come in to play. What type of fireplace is up to you.
Electric fireplaces come in many styles and sizes, and some can be incorporated into a smart home design. Traditional fireplaces tend to show up in great rooms that are designed for entertaining and relaxing with their bold mantles and natural or gas flames providing warmth and atmosphere.
One of the most exciting aspects of the design is the furniture. You can choose from so many different pieces and styles. Recliners, sofas, rockers, desks. The list goes on.
You should also think about storage and shelving. Will the shelving be built-in or freestanding? How much should you have? The space will dictate that to a certain degree, but you need to be aware of how you plan to use the space and choose the appropriate pieces from there.
Great rooms are notorious for their use of natural lighting. Large windows that let in the light and fill the room should be the main lighting source in the space. Skylights in the tall ceilings will also help bring in more natural light during the day.
However, natural light won’t last 24 hours so you will need other means of lighting as well. Overhead lighting such as light kits on ceiling fans is a popular choice. Desk lamps and floor lamps can give the perfect illumination in different areas of the room.
Great rooms are designed for entertainment. Whether its a book in a comfortable chair or a party around a major sporting event or even a dinner with friends and family. You will need to budget for the entertainment aspects that you plan to incorporate.
Televisions are very common in great rooms and depending on the size of the space you may have more than one. Stereo systems are also popular for entertaining guests. Books need to fill bookshelves and desks need supplies.
Whatever type of entertaining you choose to do with the space your budget should reflect all of the options for that style of entertaining. Keep in mind too that great rooms are recreations of banquet halls: sound carries, voices grow louder. If you are looking for a quiet space, a great room is not it.
Flooring may be one of the most expensive items for the great room design. Depending on the square footage and flooring you choose, you can easily grow over budget.
Careful planning should include the type of flooring, the materials, installation and removal and labor costs.
Your choices are limitless:
- Hardwood is very popular and will add to many design styles as well as the openness of the space.
- Carpet will help the noise issue with great rooms and provide some insulation to help with heating and cooling.
- Laminate flooring is a less expensive way to get a hardwood floor look and appeal.
- Tile is not a highly popular choice for great rooms but when done correctly can really set the room apart in both style and feel.
- Vinyl flooring is easy to maintain but not as rugged as some of the other options. Maintenance and upkeep should be calculated into your budget.
Whatever flooring you decide to use, make sure you cover all the costs and plan to purchase more materials than you actually need.
Great rooms are designed to incorporate many different rooms of the home into one large, open space. Living rooms, studios, family rooms and dining can all be incorporated into the great room design.
Usually, these rooms will open into the kitchen or even the bedrooms. Your design should include these extra rooms and their access. You may need extra doors (or fewer), and the right lighting throughout will ensure your space is one you want to be in.