The New (Smaller) Great Room
Subtle Partitions Add Intimacy to the Classic Open Floorplan
Homeowners are embracing a new sort of great room — one with a few walls rather one space all blown out, cased openings, L-shaped rooms and sitting areas off kitchens without (horror!) a TV. When I think of a classic great room, I think kitchen, dining, and family room or living room with a TV stacked one after another. But I'm loving these new smaller and compartmentalized "great" rooms. I'm a huge fan of creating intimacy in homes, even when you're working with a large open space. Here are a few rooms that illustrate some of these elements.
The sitting area off this kitchen looks like it's set up for conversation and hanging out. Not sure if there's a TV in there, but it doesn't look like it. I love how the small arched hallway breaks up the space and how there's a cased opening in between the two rooms. This is a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Since the walls and trim are white, and the header of the cased opening is quite high, you get the benefit of both openness and intimacy.
A low, cased ledge with columns and pilasters are another way to maintain a sense of openness while maintaining the the sense of two distinct rooms.
A cased opening with a lower header clearly defines this kitchen and family room as two separate rooms... But they're still open to one other.
The arched opening between the family room and kitchen helps to define the spaces as separate (but together) and is better suited to the layout of an older home. Of course, with older homes, headers are needed for structural reasons. This homeowner opted for the header and arched opening rather than a steel beam across the whole space. If they had opted for the latter, they would have lost that wall of cabinets and the handy hidden mudroom behind.
This L-shaped great room allows you to be in the kitchen while not feeling like you're also in the family room. People can be watching TV, and others can be In the kitchen cooking and hanging out — together and separate.
I can just picture being at a party in this L-shaped great room. This space looks like it's great for large groups, but cozy for smaller ones too.
I love comfy sitting areas in kitchens. They're great places for friends to hang out with a glass of wine while staying out of the cook's way. Not everyone cooks, but everyone wants to be where the action is.
For good measure, and to illustrate the difference here are a few classic great rooms. I love the symmetry and balance of this one.
I love how the large chandeliers create a more intimate feeling in this terrific space. The pool is like another room.