5 Tips How To Decorate Combined Living And Dining Rooms

Floor space in many apartments combines living and dining rooms, and even kitchens.  You can also see this layout in homes, particularly small and tiny homes. I've certainly had my share of living in such spaces. The challenge is how to keep these rooms decoratively cohesive and attractive.  How do you create a cohesive decor that is inviting, avoids looking choppy and haphazard, and still effectively utilizes each defined space?

Here are 5 tips that I had discovered on decorating combined living and dining rooms, as well as kitchens:

  1. Use color to make the rooms appear cohesive.

  2. Group furnishings according to its function.

  3. Carry the same decor style throughout both spaces.

  4. Define an efficient traffic flow.

  5. Use lighting to help bring the rooms together as one beautiful canvas.

1. Color brings combined spaces together

Unless you're inspired to design your space like a Picasso or Jackson Pollock painting, keep your color choices to a minimum.  (Guess what?  By the end of this post, you'll see this rule broken--but in good taste.)  Select a dominant color and play off that with varying shades, complementary or even contrasting colors.  

Below is one more example where white, the dominant color, brings together the combined living and dining rooms. The is then beautifully punctuated with bright warm colors in the accessories, such as the pillows, a casual chair, and art.

In the image below shows a combined living and dining room where the wall color is the cohesive element. The orange wall divider and furnishings provide the accent colors.

BHG article on Hot To Build A divider

BHG article on Hot To Build A divider

2. Group Furniture To Define The Living and Dining Room Spaces

Images below clearly illustrate this tip.  No brainer, right?  Floor space layouts and the placement of certain electrical outlets, such as ceiling lights, make this a very easy rule to follow. So group your furniture together.

combined living and dining rooms source   Apartment Therapy

combined living and dining rooms source Apartment Therapy

3. Carry The Same Style Throughout The Spaces

The contemporary decor style below is carried out through all three spaces, kitchen, dining, and living rooms. Colors and squared furnishings are similar, even the rise in the seat cushions are repeated in the sofa, dining chairs, and bar stools.


4. Define traffic flow

You shouldn’t have to climb over furniture to get from one defined space to another. Frequently, furnishings, such as the sofa, are lined up against the wall with the center of the room left open. While traffic space is easy to maneuver, it can feel like a cliche. There is another option if space permits: place the sofa in the center or near the center of the room and frame it with other furniture pieces.

Here the sofa is in the center with the dining table behind it. This layout spares you and guest from having the kitchen always in site.

Livinig, dining, and kitchen combined   source

Livinig, dining, and kitchen combined source

Combined living, dining and kitchen rooms   source

Combined living, dining and kitchen rooms source

5. Lighting as an element to create a unified space

Each functional area should have its own lighting. This doesn’t mean that every light is on all the time. General lighting is provided by ceiling fixtures, while task lighting illuminates areas such as a sofa, a desk, cabinet and under kitchen counter lighting. It’s also important to position light for the corners of the room to illuminate the corners of the room.

Lighting in apartment combined living spaces   source

Lighting in apartment combined living spaces source

Lighting in combined living spaces   source

Lighting in combined living spaces source


Many apartments, studio apartments and small/tiny homes have floor space layouts that include living, dining, and kitchen spaces. The decorating challenge for such layouts is making the spaces cohesive, attractive, and yet functional.

Five ways to successfully decorate these combined rooms include the following

  1. Color, especially walls, helps to bring the rooms together.

  2. keep furnishing together for each function.

  3. Don’t mix the styles. If eclectic is the style, carry it throughout each function space.

  4. Make it easy to get from one space to another for effective traffic flow.

  5. General and functional lighting should be used throughout.

What’s your trick for decorating combined functional living spaces?

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