3 Tips for Making Rooms Work Together

It's a common set up: dining rooms that open up into living rooms, and with it comes a decorating challenge. Here's how to make the spaces look distinct, but work harmoniously together.

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Many homes have an open floor plan where a dining room flows into a living room. It can be difficult to connect these spaces without a) looking too matched or b) totally clashing. Subtle tricks with color, texture, and shapes can help you out. These three easy tips are all you need to decorate a joined room without going overboard.

1. Get Inspired

Pick a favorite statement piece you plan to display and use it to inspire a color scheme. This might be a striped rug, a statement art print, an accent pillow you love, or a funky sculptural element. Once you've selected colors, use them in both rooms but in varying ways. Experiment with the colors you picked on different objects, in different shapes, different shades, and on different materials. Try fuzzy pale green throw pillows in the living room and emerald green wood chairs in a dining room or kitchen, for example. Or go even more subtle—neutral colors like gray and black are on the same paint chip, after all.

In this home (dining area shown above, living room below), muted magenta and dusty aqua are pulled from a collection of artwork and patterned throw pillows. The pink on the chair and pillows repeats in the form of candles and a vase on the dining room table. The chairs in both rooms sport a mix of wood and metal legs. An oversized rug connects the two furniture groupings. Its horizontal stripes are repeated on the unique coffee table and even echoed by a tiger print.

2. Background Consistency

Provide a uniform backdrop to build out your décor against by painting the walls, trim, and ceiling in adjacent open rooms the same colors. This will bring the two together without being too obvious to the casual visitor. In fact, all of the trim in your house should generally match so that your overall home decor looks cohesive as well. Trim is usually done in a contrasting color to the main wall color as a framing effect. In this house, black trim along the windows provides a bold contrast to the mostly white space and draws the eye to the views outside. White is considered the safe choice for ceilings, but a colorful ceiling can make a strong impact in an otherwise neutral space.

3. Similar Shapes

When shopping for furniture and décor, look for pieces that share textures, shapes, and design styles that will be reflected across the rooms. Fabric textures, wood accents, shapes of light fixtures, and drawer hardware styles are all things that could be repeated in both areas without being identical.

In this open plan, wood plays a strong role in unifying the dining and living rooms to each other as well as to the kitchen in the background. Exposed wood beams, a wood floor, and wood tables in both rooms make it clear that these spaces are part of the same house. Each table plays host to a glass vase of greenery as a centerpiece. Tan upholstery on the sofa corresponds to the chair seats at the dining table. Two similar (but not duplicate) rugs clearly mark out each zone.

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