GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Kitchen + Living Space = Great Room

Keep an open-concept space feeling airy by leaving plenty of empty space in the middle of the room. (Tessa Neustadt photo)

While more and more people are moving toward open-concept spaces, decorating them can pose challenges. Designer Amber Lewis shows us how it’s done so you can have a home that’s functional and full of life.

Slide a dining table right up to the island. 

For a long, narrow space, skip barstools and put a bench or banquette on the other side of the center counter. “Combining these areas makes the most of the space and creates a relaxed, gather-around-the-kitchen vibe,” says Lewis.

Paint the backdrop white.

“It’s bright and clean, and it acts as a blank canvas for the rest of the decor,” Lewis says. (It also helps reflect natural light, which can make the room feel bigger.) Pick a shade with a hint of gray to make it feel warm and inviting.   

Use rugs to define areas.

By visually outlining various zones, you can make a vast space feel more intimate. Adjacent rugs don’t have to be identical — just choose patterns and colors that complement each other.

Create a clear path for walking.

“One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not leaving enough of a pass-through,” says Lewis. She suggests a clearance of at least 3 feet between back-to-back pieces like kitchen barstools and living-room chairs.

Extend kitchen cabinets into the living area.

When you add built-in storage space, you can skip the freestanding sideboard and tuck things like table linens and china behind closed doors nearby.

If your room is square …

Orient the living space on the sunnier half of the room.

Opt for a circular dining or coffee table.

A room full of boxy pieces can look cramped or boring. Adding something round makes the room more dynamic — plus, it’s easier to walk around! Varying the shapes of accessories like pendants, lamps and mirrors helps, too.

If your room is L-shaped …

Put your dining area and kitchen on one of the longer walls.

Stick to easy neutrals.

A concise color palette will help everything flow seamlessly. “Neutrals like grays and natural materials like leather and stone are foolproof together,” says Lewis. Layer in various textures to add excitement.

Create a focal point. 

Each area within an open-concept living space should have its own eye-catching accent, such as a beautiful counter-to-ceiling back-splash or a statement-making light fixture, says Lewis.

Build in seating to save space.

You’ll be able to position the table closer to the wall or the window and fit more people for family meals. Pop in plenty of pillows, and this comfy nook will help balance the openness of a big floor plan.


Sneaky Halloween Hazards

Chocolate isn’t the only thing that can wreak havoc on your pet. Steer clear of these other ghoulish items for a fright-free night.

“Healthy” Snacks

Seemingly nutritious treats like raisins and sugar-free candy may be great for kids, but can be detrimental to dogs, says Dr. Deirdre Frey, owner of the mobile veterinary service Vet at Your Door in Portland, Maine. “Raisins can cause kidney failure, while xylitol — an artificial sweetener found in some sugar-free products — has been linked to severe low blood sugar and liver failure,” she says. “If xylitol is ingested, it’s reportedly 100 times as deadly as chocolate.”

Your Costume

Beware: Even the best-behaved pets can get scared by a trick-or-treater’s mask and become aggressive. Err on the side of caution by leaving dogs at home and bringing outdoor cats inside.


“The doorbell constantly ringing is an abnormal thing for pets,” says Frey. “Most have heightened anxiety or excitement when they hear it on any day, so when it rings over and over on Halloween, it can really stress them out.” Keep cats and dogs calm by confining them to a quiet, comfortable space like a hallway or bedroom away from the door and the influx of visiting goblins.

Festive Decor

Candles, cobwebs and spooky plastic insects create holiday ambience, but also increase the risk of burns and choking. Place hazardous items on top shelves, or consider lighting things like jack-o’-lanterns with pet-safe battery-powered LED lights.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Jimco Outdoor Folding Bistro Chairs in graywash and teak finishes, sold at TJ Maxx and Marshalls as individual chairs from January 2018 through June 2018 for about $20, and as part of a set with two chairs and a table at HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post from January 2018 through June 2018 for about $130.

The chair’s seat can break, posing a fall hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and contact Jimco Lamp & Manufacturing Company at 800-643-0092 for instructions on how to return the chairs for a full refund of the purchase price.

2018 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX SUVs

Some door striker bolts may be 5 millimeters shorter than the required length. In the event of a crash, a shorter bolt may allow the door to open, increasing the risk of injury. Ford is not aware of any reports of accident or injury as a result of this condition. Dealers will replace door striker bolts in all four doors for free. Owners can call the automaker at 866-436-7332 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 to learn more.

© Hearst Communications Inc.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Kitchen + Living Space = Great Room–