Today’s Design Dilemma comes to us from Ruth S., whose freshly tiled and extended foyer looks great but is bullying the living room.
Here’s Ruth’s question;
"I am wondering if you can please help me? I have a 24′ x 11’6" living/dining room that is open plan and is open onto the staircase on one side and the foyer (see photo). I am in the process of finishing up my living room area but would love a suggestion about how I can separate the foyer from the living room, either visually or physically. We have extended the floor of the foyer by almost 3′ as it was originally too small, and I love the new slate flooring. Do you think that there is room there for a half-wall, albeit a small one, or should I try and divide it up by using a screen or column type piece of furniture? Once I have created a visual division, how should I lay out the furniture in the living room? I have tried everything, to no avail, and would really welcome your suggestions.
Thanks for a great and informative website."
Here’s Ruth’s living/dining room and foyer:
Well I certainly see your problem. My main concern about separating the foyer from living room with furniture or a half-wall would be the passage way that would result between that piece of furniture/wall and the corner of the wall with the mirror. The same goes for putting up a visual detail such as a column. Presumably you would place it at the corner end of the slate floor, which by the looks of it – and it’s hard to tell from a photograph – may create too narrow a passage between it and the stairway (mirror) wall.
I would consider the following options but with caution, as you’ll essentially be boxing yourself in;
1. Open Shelving Unit
Something such as the one pictured here, but even this may be too bulky and crowding. It all depends on its size and the amount of space you have to play with in the foyer. I would mark out the maximum allowable footprint for a shelving unit on the floor in colourful tape and see how much elbow room you have. Then shop accordingly. Whatever you go with however should be floor-to-ceiling, but not necessarily attached to the outside (door) wall.
2. A Mini Dividing Wall
Not a half-wall rising from the floor, but a mini wall that juts out from the outside (door) wall, such as you see in the photo below, from an episode ofHome to Stay with Peter Fallico. Again, I would measure this out on the floor in tape, as there may not be enought room for it. How far the wall juts out will be a delicate calculation, based on, again, the passage way remaining ample, and my next suggestion…
3. A New Living Room Floor Plan
Here I again refer to the same living room by Peter Fallico, whose expertise with real spaces has been proven time and time again.
Consider placing two matching love seats/small sofas face-to-face, with one in front of the living room window (as is shown in the photo) and the other as a divider between the living room and dining room, immediately before the head of the dining room table (with room for the chair to move, of course.) The sofa before the window could be small enough to fit within the natural nook, or you can move it slightly away from the window which would allow you to have a longer sofa, and the possibility to place a narrow console between it and the window on which you can rest books, magazines and decorative items.
The small dividing wall should jut out the same distance as the depth of the sofa, to hide the sofa behind it. It should leave the foyer ample enough for normal traffic to pass but it doesn’t mean that it will not still visually crowd.
What this floor plan would also do is free up the feature wall, against which the current sofa sits. This is really the only wall offering space for storage, and it’s where I would design a shelving unit which could incorporate a TV, or a gas fire place. The TV could sit in the middle to be viewed from the two facing sofas, or alternatively, the shelving unit could extend into the corner of the room (by the window), where the TV could sit on an angle, facing the room. Custom is really the way to go here, unless you can find something with the perfect proportions for your space.
Anyone else have other suggestions?