Q: I live in a house in which one big space with a high ceiling serves as both the living and dining rooms. I need a more visual separation between the two areas, but I don't want to use wall barriers. How can I preserve the feeling of openness while defining the two parts of the room more clearly?
A: It will take more than simply arranging the furniture pieces into tight functional groupings, although that's certainly a good way to start. What's really needed is a change in colors, lighting or floor levels -- or all of those elements simultaneously.
Since your space is large and has a tall ceiling, it might be possible to build a platform in one part. Careful planning will reveal whether that option makes sense. Keep in mind that you must allow for circulation, so be sure there's at least 3 feet between the furniture and the platform steps. You should also realize that this sort of physical arrangement will limit your ability to change the arrangement of the furniture.
On the theory that if the bridge can't be raised, maybe the river can be lowered, you might consider dropping a portion of the ceiling in order to accentuate either the dining or living area. Believe it or not, this is often easier to achieve than constructing a platform.
For additional punch or a shift in mood, hang a chandelier in the dining area. If your ceiling's not quite high enough for that, use of spot lighting over the dining table can produce an equally dramatic effect.
Deft combinations of pattern and color will enable you to accomplish your objective without making any major alterations. The photo gives a clue as to how this might be done.
Here, a contemporary dining space was carved out of a single large room by simply installing four different shades of nylon carpeting. WorryFree Carpet by Tuftex was used throughout the space because of its durability and soil resistance.
The fashionable colors of gray, mauve and rose were chosen in order to emphasize the contemporary art deco style mixed with the traditional motifs. Although those colors can be seen in all parts of the space, they are most evident in the bordered dining area.
One word of caution: Each of these methods of delineating areas is based on precise design principles. As a result, the room won't look as attractive if its furniture or colors are rearranged more than slightly. Any subsequent changes in the composition have to be minor, or else the entire room may have to be redone.