Today, the great room is the beating heart of the modern home. This open living space—typically connected to the kitchen and containing both modern dining and living room furniture—is where family and friends gather, dine, do homework, and entertain. Of course, furnishing and decorating an open, varied area can be a challenge. To advise us on great modern living room design ideas, we turned to the Chicago-based interior design firm Studio Gild, and its founders Jennie Bishop, Melissa Benham, and Kristen Ekeland. Many of the firm’s current projects include “dramatic open-plan spaces with combined kitchen/living/dining zones,” says Bishop. “These layouts work well in a wide variety of homes, styles, and geographic locations.”
YLighting: What are your top tips for decorating a modern living room?
Studio Gild: Giving a large room delineation is important and it’s more than simply putting together different seating combinations. We like to use large area rugs that follow the perimeter of the space to help soften and unite an oversized room. We also like to layer smaller, modern rugs in order to further define distinct areas. A built-in banquette can anchor a niche, and set it apart from the lounge area. Creating a focal area with a fireplace or television helps to orient the main seating arrangement, and facing some of the seating towards the kitchen helps to keep these two areas talking to one another.
Blue, focal point living room rug.
Mini Basketweave Floor Mat from Chilewich
YL: Which pieces are suitable for large-scale rooms, such as sectionals and larger coffee tables?
SG: To create a proper scale in this kind of space and to avoid the feeling of postage-stamp-sized seating areas requires bigger furnishings. A sectional or sofa itself could act as a room divider, signaling where the kitchen ends and the living area begins. The LRG Sectional Sofa is a great piece for this reason and is comfortable as well as beautiful from all perspectives—which is important in an open-plan space where furnishings may be viewed from several directions.
Extra-long sofas, like the Place Three Seater Sofa, also work well in large-scale rooms. I’d pair it with the sizeable Eyre Coffee Table, which has an equally strong presence and can ground the seating area. The Carlisle Coffee Table is quite large, but the cage-like base makes it feel light and airy. It’s always good to balance visually weighty furnishings with pieces that are more radical and open in structure