Home & Leisure

Small Spaces: Take Liberties in Your Living Room

Christine Brun on

Most people are fine having their huge TV mounted on a prominent wall in the living room. This is a beneficial trend made popular when flat-screen TVs, designed to hang on the wall like a painting, became commonplace. And when we relaxed the notion of what the primary room for socializing and family interaction must include, increased function resulted in most homes. Let's look at some options for modern living rooms.

For starters, in a small home with a living room and a den, you will likely gain more freedom if you commandeer the entire living room for purposes normally provided by a family room. Ditch the traditional concept of a formal living room, as thousands of households have already done. My home was designed so that the main living room would be more proper and hold a modest dining table at one end. The considerably smaller den is adjacent to the kitchen and originally included a built-in bar. But I flipped the room function around: The den now holds a large dining table, and the living room has become the den. I had to become comfortable with the TV being in the main living room, and I tore out the bar in favor of a china cabinet. Rules mean nothing when you need to make your home work with the available space.

Here we see a creative way to treat any TV wall. If there is room for at least 24 inches of depth below the TV screen, you can convert the space into an entertainment unit or a coffee bar and expand entertainment function. Instead of the typical storage and bookshelves around the TV, this solution incorporates wine chillers, a beverage chiller and an under-counter refrigerator, all of which surround the screen. Imagine that there are four swivel chairs in front of this arrangement, as well as a cocktail table that can articulate from a low position to dining height when you wish to eat a meal.

In a small home, combining room functions is one way to coax more out of your space. This same design could also be introduced at one end of a more casual dining room. My suspicion is that there are plenty of us who eat dinner while watching the news and/or sports. Imagine a dining room where the entire family could also watch Monday night football or your favorite comedy. Consider including an ice maker, a 15-inch-wide dishwasher or even refrigerator drawers.

Much of how you use your space has to do with the composition of your family. Do you have young kids? Are you a childless couple or empty nesters? Do you have multiple generations living in the same household? It might be more useful to have just one wine chiller and a beverage refrigerator and devote the rest to pullout toy storage. Or perhaps you are a family of game lovers and puzzle makers. Multiple deep drawers in a living room built-in unit might be more practical for your needs.

An in-wall coffee maker could be more appropriate as a luxury built-in at the end of your living room. The most popular model is produced by Miele. Search for a variety of Miele CVA built-in coffee machines online.


Many single-level ranch-style floor plans feature an open living room, dining room and family room. Any of the aforementioned special features could be added to one of these rooms to make it a shared space.

Photo Credit: Perlick


Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




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