Tips for a Small Coastal Living Dining Room Combo Layout

In this issue of “My Rental Coastal Home Makeover Journey” series, I’m sharing with you the start of the transformation: the living-dining room combo layout!

Creating an Open and Relaxed Layout for a Coastal-Style Living Dining Room Combo

The layout of a home is very important because it determines how easy and comfortable it is to move around and use the space.

In a coastal home, the layout should create a sense of openness and relaxation. It should make the most of natural light and provide easy access to outdoor areas like patios or balconies. Furniture should be arranged to allow for clear pathways and to create cozy, inviting spaces for relaxation and socializing.

If, like me, you have a living-dining room combo in a coastal home, making the space feel open and inviting is key. It’s important to arrange furniture in a way that allows for easy movement, natural light, functionality, that fits your lifestyle, while ensuring the seating area faces beautiful views or a focal point like a fireplace.

When I first saw the pictures of my soon-to-be home I immediately knew where the dining and living areas would be. I wanted a coastal dining nook, an airy living area to enjoy the fireplace in the winter, and access to the balcony to sunbathe and maybe have some meals outside.

Living Dining Room Combo floor plan

However, when I arrived, the layout was the opposite.

The first thing you saw when entering the room was a dining set, a huge shelving unit, and a huge armchair (large and with a tall back) in the corner. Then, crammed in a corner (my dining nook!) was a red sofa with a weird media unit on the side, a large coffee table, and a small table.

Issues with this room combo layout:

This not only wasted good space, but blocked access to the balcony (it’s a hinged door), blocked natural light, and took the focus away from the most charming feature of this room: a rustic corner fireplace—a rare find in an apartment.

Also, by not centering the living area around the fireplace and in the largest area of the room, this layout misses out on the chance to create a cozy, airy, inviting space to socialize and relax by the fire at night.

So this layout had to go!

My Vision for the Space: A Cozy Coastal Living Room and a Coastal Dining Nook

When I rented this house I had to agree to keep the furniture. Quality stuff, sturdy, but store-box matchy set with a cherry wood finish, very 2000s; a worn out, cat ripped, discontinued IKEA sofa-bed; a fake-antique dark blue armchair; and an amazing sturdy dark wood coffee table.

But even though I had to keep these items, the layout had to change.

I disassembled some things and stored them (like the weird media unit) and in the beginning I separated the bookcase (it’s a 3-part unit) and put the larger section in the soon-to-be laundry room; but in the end I put everything back in the living room.

1. Making better use of the Space: I moved the dining set to the smaller corner, creating a “breakfast nook”. This freed up the larger area to be used as a living room, not only making it the first welcoming space you see when you enter but also creating a large, airy relaxing space.

2. Highlighting the Fireplace: I made the fireplace the focal point of the living room. By arranging the sofa and armchairs around it, I created a cozy seating area perfect for relaxing by the fire.

3. Maximizing the View: I positioned the seating to take full advantage of the room’s windows, which offer a lovely view. This not only makes the room feel more open and airy but also draws attention to the beautiful outdoor scenery.

4. Balcony Access: I made sure that the layout provided easy access to the balcony, allowing for a seamless indoor-outdoor flow. This space is perfect for sunbathing and enjoying the coastal breeze. Well, I still had the armchair blocking the door. My nightmare for over a year. It was so large that didn’t fit anywhere else in the house.

Minor Challenges with this Living Dining room combo layout:

There were some minor challenges with the layout I chose.

There are no doors, just a large opening in the middle of the entry wall.

The fireplace is in a corner, and it’s not a huge room, so the only place to put the sofa and sitting area was against the wall facing the fireplace. Any other placement and I would either be blocking the natural light coming from the windows, blocking the balcony, and/or facing the kitchen, with my back against the windows. Not an option at all! Who wants to see a kitchen (in this case, another challenge in itself) when we want to relax?

Despite these challenges, this was the best layout for the living room.

I had space for my big side table lamps, a coffee table, and we could still walk easily from the entry to the dining room and I could see the fireplace from all areas.

Now, it was time to decorate it and make it Coastal Style…with this furniture…oh well.

Final Keynotes:

If you have a living-dining combo room, or any other combination of spaces:

  • Define the different areas (a living area, dining area, reading area, gaming area…) with the space itself, rugs, dividers like plants or console tables.
  • Maintain a cohesive coastal style in the several areas.
  • Define or create a focal point (like a fireplace for the living area, or a window view, or a large painting…)
  • Make sure it’s easy to access each area and to open doors without obstacles or walking around furniture.

Leave a comment if you have dealt with a small living-dining room combo layout, what challenges you faced and how you solve it.

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