Create a dedicated dining room in your open-floor-plan space.
DEFINE THE SPACE WITH FURNITURE
When Nicholas Moriarty moved into his partner Luka Pocivavsek’s dated Hyde Park loft, the artist–interior designer quickly began making changes to the space, starting with the unit’s large, open great room. Moriarty used the fireplace, which he clad in charcoal limestone tile, as a starting point, positioning the sofa and two chairs between the hearth and the entertainment center, a layout that also created a natural dining area in the space behind the sofa.
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Moriarty suggests using small-scale pieces with simple lines to define each room while maintaining the space’s open and airy feel.
From the fireplace tile to the drapes and furniture upholstery, a palette of gray and charcoal tones repeats throughout. “Don’t use a color in one area if you’re not going to use it in the other,” he says.
Use artwork to anchor the dining room and make it distinctive. Moriarty hung one of his pastel triptychs by the table, a solution that also emphasized the room’s height. —Tate Gunnerson
What do you do with a living room that’s smaller than a bedroom? Brad Bennett and Sarah Cote took a bold step with the small living area in their Ukrainian Village apartment. Rather than cram it with a couch and end tables, they pared down furniture and used the room as a spartan dining space. Then they furnished their biggest bedroom with a sofa, chairs and stereo. The effect: a spacious dining room and cozy sitting room, both perfect for entertaining.
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Don’t feel obligated to use rooms the way previous tenants or owners did. If you host dinner parties more often than overnight guests, turn that second bedroom into a dining room.
A room with all classic furnishings creates a unified feel. Bennett scored the matching Eames shell chairs on eBay for $80–$125 apiece.
Don’t keep furniture that doesn’t function in your space. Bennett and Cote achieved a clean look by pitching holdovers from previous apartments. —Katherine Raz
CREATE SPACE WITH COLOR
The layout of TOC art director Stephanie Gladney’s West Lakeview apartment is similar to many new-construction or gut-rehab condos: It features that ubiquitous gigantic room designed to accommodate both a living room and a dining area, but there’s no clear separation between the two. Gladney and her husband, Chad, broke up the big room by painting the walls in the dining area a different color from the rest of the space. Their color inspiration? A sunny yellow curio cabinet from Ravenswood’s Nadeau Imports that they’ve filled with plates and wine glasses, and placed in the dining area. To complement the yellow cabinet and the mustard-yellow walls in the living room, the couple painted two walls around the dining room table olive green. A chair rail, installed by the condo’s previous owners, also defines the space. “I never would’ve thought to add [the chair rail] myself, but it really makes a difference,” Gladney says.
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Gladney used custom-mixed dark olive-green and mustard-yellow shades of Behr premium semi-gloss paint ($23 per gallon at Home Depot) to create the space. According to interior designer Laurel Feldman of Laurel Feldman Interiors IIDA, there’s no formula to choosing the perfect paint color, but it should harmonize with the fabrics, flooring and other surfaces of a room. “I like using one major color and then one accent color to give excitement to the space,” she says. Neutral colors (such as grays, taupes and cremes) are easy to live with and can be more exciting if a deeper color (such as chocolate brown or charcoal gray) is used on a long focal wall. “I also always use a seed pearl white paint on all trim…to reflect light and act as a picture frame to capture and wrap the entire space,” Feldman adds. —Kevin Aeh