Trend continues for great rooms in new homes

by: SCOTT KEITH - Lorri Weigel with Key Home Furnishings in Lake Oswego shares the history and growing popularity for great rooms.Looking back to your childhood home, you probably remember the family room. It was the room you retired to after dinner.

Before the age of computers, the family room was where everybody gathered to watch an evening of television.

Family rooms are still with us, but they’ve changed in scope. If you visited the recent Street of Affordable Homes or Street of Dreams, you’ve noticed that family rooms have evolved into great rooms.

The purpose of these rooms hasn’t changed, but floor plans have taken on new dimensions in the past couple of decades.

Lorri Weigel, who works in sales at Key Home Furnishings in Lake Oswego, has seen the trend toward more great rooms.

She said the transition began in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“People started deciding that home was a place where they wanted to become more comfortable. People weren’t going out as much,” said Weigel, who has 20 years experience in interior design.

She said the family room was often downstairs, and there was always a big wall between the kitchen and the living room. Eventually, the space was opened. The great room these days has become a combination of kitchen, family room and dining room.

“It’s a great room that you can do a lot of stuff with,” said Weigel. “So you can expand the kitchen as big as you need it or have a great area for Super Bowl parties — everybody is all in the same area. It just kind of brings people together.”

Room for any size family

The modern great room can provide a comfortable area for families of any size.

According to Weigel, “It makes it more casual. It gives it a more comfortable feel. It’s not as formal. If you’ve got everybody around the kitchen table, it makes it a lot easier for everybody to kind of mosey over to the sectional — people aren’t in five different rooms. They’re in one room.”

Developers like to show off these great rooms during events, such as the Street of Dreams.

“The biggest places in the house to showcase are going to be the kitchen and great room because that’s one of the biggest things women are always looking for,” said Weigel. “They’re looking for a great kitchen and great space. The husband is always looking for a great place watch TV.

“Having a good cohesive great room really puts it all together,” she added.

If you already have a great room and it’s beginning to get a bit drab and uninviting, Weigel has some suggestions.

“One of the biggest things you can do is invest in a good sectional and invest in a good table,” she said, adding that a good paint job and a lighting upgrade can also help. She said you can switch out light fixtures and try something fun, such as placing a chandelier over the dining room table or adding some nice table or floor lamps in the great room.

Tips for selling your home

If you want to sell your home, Weigel has a list of must-dos that will enhance your great room. Remodeling the kitchen is probably number one, she said. It’s also important to open the space, whether you’re painting, getting drapes or putting in windows; accessories, such as adding new pictures, can spruce up the surroundings.

“Paint is huge,” she said. “It can totally change your room.”

For selling a house, Weigel has some tips that may not be as obvious.

“You want to have some character in it, but you want to also clean off the counters — don’t make it look like nobody lives there — don’t have it so cluttered with your stuff that they can’t see themselves moving in,” said Weigel.

If you want to upgrade the great room but you’re on a budget, Weigel suggests taking it step by step.

“Pick a room and just do it,” she said, adding that if you don’t have the money to fix up a sofa, find some fun-colored pillows.

Upgrading your great room is a very attainable goal, said Weigel.

“Really think about getting it fixed so that your home is where you want people to come,” she said. “Don’t only clean it up when your company comes; make it a great place for you to enjoy as well.”

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