LIVING ROOM COMFORTS: The high-ceiling and the bay-window overlooking the landscaped courtyard are features that contribute to a spacious feel.
Living rooms are generally happening areas of a house. Be it time spent with relatives, interaction with guests or cozy family get-togethers, the space you structure at living rooms determine the taste of the people living in every household.
The family living space we are talking about is not the `put-on', pretentious, showcased rooms but the actual living space where things are happening. It's a space where you interact and share with the family. So the positioning of living rooms is significant. In that, the angle and placement should allow for freedom and privacy to the residents of the house. The living room shouldn't overlook the dining lest you feel uncomfortable eating in the presence of guests waiting in the living room. Preferably a buffer space in the form of a foyer or a verandah (100 sq. ft) before the living room would do well to cater for entertaining all the casual guests. Even a drawing room (say around 120 sq. ft) provision in the front would help interaction with the more official and formal guests. The living can further lead to or be aligned to the dining room with a wall in between, as many prefer to segregate the living and the dining.
Don't bring in television
Usually there is a tendency to make living rooms the TV viewing area too, where one gets hooked to the `idiot box'. Eliminating this activity would certainly improve family values. Also, these lively spaces themselves should help you change your mood and charge you up. The living rooms are areas where one can actually have some dramatic double/triple heights (20 ft or even 30ft high ceiling). The lighting can be amply provided through large window openings and most of the other spaces like the bedrooms and the study rooms can overlook the living.
Along the courtyard...
In continuation with the last weeks article on `courtyards concept' the combination of a courtyard along the living room would help heighten the spacious feel. Bringing in the double heights would also help the sound travel and reverberate inside the house helping the people in upper floors hear what's happening below and not be left alone.
Living rooms could also be demarcated by means of level difference in the flooring. The living feels better if it is lowered by 1'6" from the adjoining areas making it look more spacious. This helps in eliminating the wall put up to partition the living room. But care has to be taken if there are `special' people in the house for whom a ramp access at the changing levels would be ideal (1 in 8 gradient minimum).The living could be located at one side of the house, again not so aloof as to lose touch with the movements of your dear ones.
As for seating, trends these days point to only the formal sofa sets with posh upholstery. But they are not interaction-friendly and comfortable either for seating. In addition we could look at a bay window with seating at 1'6" height with some storage space below. The photo shows a similar bay-window overlooking a landscaped court outside. The in-built seater in the fore throws in an informal definition to the living area.
Materials like marble, kotah, cuddapah, shahbad; the yellow Jaisalmer or Italian marbles are ideal choices for the flooring material. The in-built furniture and the bay-window ledges could also be built with brick and mortar. Small display niches could be provided for artworksto increase the sense of belonging.
(The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai)