Design at Altitude: Creating a cozy feel in big spaces |

Design at Altitude: Creating a cozy feel in big spaces

Layered rugs and pillows can give a cavernous, cold space a plush feel and soak up sound.
Special to the Daily |

Even with the “tiny home” movement going on, there are still a lot of spacious homes available: houses with huge great rooms, cavernous living areas and kitchen/dining areas that go on for miles. The challenge is to make these large spaces feel small, warm, inviting and welcoming. If you’ve been living in a 700-square-foot studio, then it’s hard to imagine space being an issue or challenge, but it truly can be.

We all want enough space to host parties, luncheons or last-minute happy hours. On the other hand, we want our houses to reflect who we are, and to feel like a home, not a conference space. Here are a few of our favorite tips for making the great room feel like a welcoming room.

Make A Plan

One of the first things I do is create nooks or areas within the space. Make a plan before you start moving or buying. Some rooms have an odd configuration, which will dictate more how it will be set up. Decide what is important to you — do you want a large screen TV or less of a media impact? Do you have little kids whose toys you need to hide away?

Place some arm chairs with a side table in front of the fireplace for a cozy conversation area. Put a large tufted ottoman in front of a sofa and armchairs, which can double as a snack area. Everyone loves games these days — having a designated space makes playing so much easier. Set up your game table with chairs in a corner, that way if your game of Monopoly lasts (and lasts), you can leave it set up without fear of losing pieces. Use area rugs to further define the spaces.

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All About Area Rugs

Area rugs can also make an echo-y space much quieter and much more homey. Some large spaces, no matter what you do it seems, feel cold and loud. Area rugs, carpeting and window treatments all help cure the echo — you can even try layering area rugs for a plush, thick feel. Pillows absorb sound and add warmth. If you’re setting up a kids’ area, then use bean bags and soft fabrics to dampen sound.

Large rooms come with large walls. Colors and patterns can be used to break up a large wall. An accent wall is always a fun choice — color without overcommitting. Another option: paint two-tone walls, which can make the ceiling seem closer and the room cozier. Add wainscoting for a textural option and to break up the blank walls. Have you noticed the beautiful log ceilings in so many homes here? It’s not just to add to the design – paneling (or painting the ceiling several shades darker than the walls) makes the ceiling seem a little closer and the room that much smaller.

If any type of painting seems daunting, then try adding color and definition with a large piece of art. Be bold in your art choices. A piece that might seem completely overwhelming in a smaller space would add depth and interest to a previously very white, very tall wall. Conversely, smaller prints and frames will get lost on an expansive wall. In this case, bigger just might be better.

Once you have the space just the way you like it, have a party! See how the room flows with your best friends over versus how it feels when it’s just the family. What might seem like a great layout can prove to be awkward, which just means you get to rearrange, then host another soiree — just in time for summer.

Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs and has been with the company for 17 years. She has all sorts of tips for creating inspired interiors. For more design inspiration (designspiration), please check out

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