Before we discuss how to build a conversation area into your living room, let us ask you this: Do you know the difference between a living room and a family room? In a nutshell, the living room is primarily for socializing and entertaining guests. The family room is where you’ll find the TV and beanbag chairs. (If we’re all being honest, the living room is generally the clean one, and the family room is a mess.)
The staple advice out there for creating conversation areas generally focuses on interior design, but in terms of construction ideas, you won’t find nearly as much. We can help with that:
- With new construction, think about incorporating a sunken space within the living room. You see sunken space used a lot these days with outdoor fire pits, and that idea absolutely translates into the inside of your home. People are drawn to the intimate, cozy feel of the space.
- Offset the cozy you create on-the ground with large, expansive ceilings. (You don’t want guests to feel too closed in, and it’s a conversation space you’re trying to create, not a cocoon!)
- Conversation spaces need quite a bit of furniture—at least a couch plus two chairs, a coffee table, and side tables. If you have limited square footage to work with, include built-ins in the construction or remodel so that you can save more of your floor space for furniture.
- Living rooms need lots of different light sources suited to a mix of tasks—think intimate fireside conversations, book club meetings, parties, and quiet reading. This lighting variety is achieved mostly through interior design, using lamps, but during the construction phase, be sure to install an overhead light controlled with a dimmer switch. Wall sconces are also a great choice.
- Fire holds as much fascination for modern-day humans as it did to the knuckle-draggers who discovered it. We can’t emphasize enough the draw of a fireplace and how effective it is in creating a conversation area. If you’re remodeling you can still have one, the simplest option being a freestanding vent-less fireplace, which burns a gel instead of gas or wood. Some are even crafted with wood mantels or bookshelf surrounds, so they can truly add interest to the room.
Interior design can do the heavy lifting when it comes to making a great conversation space in your living room, but it can’t carry the whole load. It’s best when you invite your builder or remodeler to be a part of creating this important element in your home!