Had Nietzsche boasted a great room of his own, perhaps the philosopher would have written such an architectural assertion in place of his oft-quoted theological one. The great room, frequently as grand as its name suggests, eliminates the need for a separate living room by revolutionizing the traditional home layout, bringing a sense of grandeur and togetherness to a home of any size.
Although the concept of the great room doesn’t date back to Nietzsche’s time, the versatility great rooms provide carries age-old appeal. Great rooms first popped up in home designs in the late 1980’s as a way to bring multiple rooms of the house (such as the living room, family room, study, and kitchen) into one large, open and centralized space. The resulting living area creates a loft-like environment ripe with flexibility: from entertaining to reading, working, cooking, watching television and eating, the spacious and unobstructed layout of the great room creates an integrated space where interaction reigns supreme. In the great room, family members come together and their activities, once sectioned off into separate rooms, are comfortably shared.
There’s just as much flexibility in the design and layout of a great room as there is in the use of the space itself. Each individual great room combines various elements of the traditional rooms being joined; features often include fireplaces and built-in shelving units to bring elements of the living room into the large space. Plasma televisions and media centers incorporate the family room with a sleek, tucked-away feel. Spaces for reading and working separated by columns or steps help integrate components from the study. Spot lighting and wet bars weave in the ability to entertain while setting a sophisticated mood for the room, which frequently opens up to the kitchen, patio, or deck. Large, dramatic windows are common as well: encouraging the room’s expansive, open feel and providing sweeping views to enjoy day and night.
With such divergent activities and dramatic designs in a single space, the great room might bear the potential to feel disjointed. Certain architectural elements and included built-ins serve to seamlessly blend the room’s multiple functions: well-placed columns, varying floor levels, steps and built-ins serve to delineate the large square footage into continuous, highly usable areas. Nooks, alcoves, and offset spaces help maintain areas of privacy and a sense of individual space, without making the room feel fragmented. From appreciating a private cup of coffee in the morning to throwing a large dinner party at night (and enjoying the television as a family in between), great rooms are defined by a family’s activities and are built with corresponding flexibility.
In addition to merging various rooms and functions, the great room’s particular style, with respect to its vastness, serves to set a tone for the home. Customizable materials and details such as wood floors, vaulted ceilings, berber carpet, arches, period tile, granite and more establish a feel that continues throughout the home. Whether it be country, contemporary, cape cod, or craftsman: the great room offers unprecedented space to define a lifestyle. As an innovative, all encompassing living area, the great room is quickly becoming a celebrated staple of new home design.
The living room might be dead indeed.
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