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The living room is dead

What’€™s so great about a great room?

The flexibility of a large, open space and the freedom to make it suit your needs.

Situated just off the kitchen in an open floor plan, great rooms function as a little of everything. It is the dining, living, entertaining, work and play space.

No longer are homebuyers looking to separate every function in life into a separate room that rarely gets used (think formal dining room). These days, life is a hodgepodge of activities where you’€™ll find a laptop next to a dinner plate in front of a television.

With a large room visible through much of the house, it’s a must for families, but homebuilders say everyone wants in on the action.

“€œI would say that 75 percent of our floor plans are a great room concept now,”€ said John McDonough of Canyon Creek Custom Homes. “€œWe are not designing hardly any homes with formal living rooms and formal dining rooms anymore.”€

Consider the dining space your family needs. Great rooms are turning dining into a multifunctional affair, and many new homes are eliminating the formal dining room.

With a space to eat in the great room and room in the kitchen, be it a breakfast bar, a nook or the island, formal dining just isn’t what it used to be.

If multifunctional and flexible fit your needs, the great room is what you want.

Step one of creating an oh-so-great great room is to stand in the kitchen and decide what you need in your sight line.

  • For some it’€™s a television. Make sure there’s a large wall to serve as a canvas for the large, flat screen TV and room between the kitchen and the wall for a comfortable couch or dual recliner. Whatever you do, make sure your kitchen workspace points you toward your favorite sports or reality TV show so you don’€™t miss a minute while you’€™re whipping up gourmet popcorn.
  • For others, it’€™s the kids’€™ play area. Make sure there’€™s an area with good flooring (think hardwood, not carpet), open spaces and places for storage, be it built-in bookshelves or blank wall space for all the toys. Either way, make sure you can see the play space from all points necessary.
  • And for many more, it’s the entertaining area. Where can you set up seating for company? Will everyone be able to mingle in the great room while you’€™re playing hostess?
  • A great room offers an added bonus for the hostess. Not only does it offer a more comfortable, higher-capacity area for a bigger party, but now the hostess can be a part of the fun. With direct access and typical open sight line to the kitchen, she never has to leave a conversation and the kitchen becomes a secondary party locale.
  • Access to outdoors. Many great rooms offer access to outdoor living spaces.

With large doors that open up to the patio, the great room can become even greater with the additional backyard living area. In a few more months, the Las Vegas weather will grant an exceptional place to extend the entertaining area. Ensure the great room is attached to the covered patio area.

Step two is adding the fine details.

McDonough advises customers to consider the layout with regard to visibility of the television, the fireplace, the height of the ceilings and the relationship to the kitchen.

He suggests to then add touches like pocket doors to bring in the outdoors, add special details to the ceiling and go big on the flooring.

Nontraditional fireplaces without mantels in the living area with TVs mounted above them and unique, modern chandeliers in the dining space are common touches.

The details are where you can make your room unique.

Step three is designing and furnishing. The best part about a great room is the flexibility. As life changes, so can the room. With one large open room, a change of furniture, an added area rug or a simple seating change-up can alter the function of the room.

Rugs and furniture are what defines the areas of a great room. The seating and tables add the function. Keep it flexible and fun.

“€œIt is all in the details and the flow of the room that make it great,”€ McDonough said.

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