Designing the House: Living Room & Study

Hi there! We’re working our way through the “dream house” wish-list that we recently sent to a local architect, and today’s post is about the living/family room and the main-floor study.

Mike and I have somewhat differing wishes for the living room, and were having trouble figuring out how to accommodate both of our wants in the rough layouts we were sketching together.

The hope is that with the use of built-ins and a fireplace/woodstove, the architect will be able to achieve the sense of coziness that I want this space to have, while large windows and an open floor plan will give Mike the bright and airy feel he wants.

Living Room / Study wish-list:
  • Open floor plan between living, dining, kitchen
  • Consider beamwork in living room to create division/room definition and coziness. Also consider other ways of defining those spaces without closing them off.

Top left // Top right // Bottom left // Bottom right

  • The living room should be focused around the fireplace and orientation of furniture so we can enjoy the view through the window and converse with guests
  • Plenty of bookshelves and storage for games, etc. Could hide a TV inside of the built-in cabinetry. TV is secondary and only used occasionally.
Top left // Top right // Bottom left // Bottom right
  • Lots of natural light
  • Striking a balance between cozy/comfortable and open/airy
  • Possible staircase to second floor in living room. Exposed bannister on one side–stairs as a feature in living room.
  • Study should be able to multi-task as a guest bedroom (consider a murphy bed built into a bookshelf, to save space), an office, storage for art and craft supplies, and provide a quiet space for reading, yoga, etc.
  • Consider pocket doors or french doors for separating the study from the living room

As shown in the examples, we are big fans of paneling and built-ins rather than just drywall everywhere. How to include enough built-in storage and still have enough open wall-space for large windows is tricky, especially because the overall size of the living room is quite small!

Many of the photos we’ve shown as examples are of much larger houses, giving more space to each room than our house will have. One of the big architectural challenges with this project is how to use the space as wisely as possible, so that our lengthly wish-lists can fit (as much as possible, anyway) into a modest footprint (approximately 1600-1800 sq. feet) without making each room feel crowded.

Up next….bedrooms!

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