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Having trouble with your adjoining room layout? Problem solved!

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

A lot of people remodel their rooms one at a time, first addressing one space and then moving on to the next. Adjoining rooms can be tricky in this way because the changes you make to one room can be seen from the next. If the decor in one room clashes with the decor in the next room, you could find yourself gritting your teeth every time you walk into either space! It's best to remodel both rooms at once to ensure they both look right. These rooms are actually the most frequent types that I receive calls about. They are usually rooms that are in a house that already has a family room so a lot of my clients are stumped when it comes to that one front room that seems like more wasted space than can be actually used. With me though, there is no wasted space 😉

Just because I recommend renovating adjoining rooms at the same time, I'm not implying that they are the same space, or they should be treated as such. Just because two rooms adjoin each other doesn't mean they need to be identical. Each room should have - and retain - its own character and personality. The spaces should coordinate, but not match.

This is a tough concept for some homeowners, which is why you might end up hiring an interior designer if this is the predicament you're in. In this article, I'll talk to you about how to coordinate adjoining rooms. However, if you find yourself feeling lost in this process, just call me! I can help.

Adjoining Rooms Vs. Open Layouts

To clarify: it's easy to mix up an adjoining room with an open layout. The two are not the same, although the two concepts are similar.

An open layout, also called the open floor plan or open concept floor plan, is a large open space with little or no division between spaces like the dining room and kitchen, the dining room and living room, and so on. Typical open layouts combine three or more rooms into one large open space.

A layout for adjoining rooms features two rooms with a discrete division between the two spaces. The division might be a very wide arched doorway flanked by two pillars, or a pony wall.

Facilitate Interaction

Most of the time, adjoining rooms in a home are made up of a sitting room and a dining room. You want to be able to sit comfortably in the sitting room and still be able to converse with whomever is in the dining room.

Comfort is key in any design - for these sitting rooms I usually gravitate to swivel chairs for the conversation area. They’re casual, comfortable, and great to turn towards the dining room area.

Even without swivel chairs, I recommend positioning some chairs in the room so they're facing toward your dining area. 

Create a Flow

The big goal when decorating adjoining rooms is to create a flow that works between both spaces for easy transition. Use decorative features that have a visual relationship with each other, even if they're not exactly the same. This creates a flow, so anyone sitting in one room can look over into the other room and recognize that the two spaces are intended to be connected.

Choose a Color Palette

Before buying any furniture, painting any walls, or purchasing window treatments, start by selecting a color palette. There are lots of different ways you can make a color palette. I've written quite a bit on my blog about color palettes, including some of my favorite colors. There are also online generators that can create a color palette for you. When selecting a color palette for a single room, many people choose a primary color, some accent colors and some neutrals that can be used in the background.

When selecting a color palette for two rooms, you may have more than one primary color - one for each room. But all colors should be able to exist in the same space without clashing.

Window Treatments

One way to create a relationship between window treatments is to select treatments that compliment one another. Complimentary colors are opposites on the color wheel, like blue and orange-gold, for example. So maybe in one room you'll see some solid sky blue drapes, and in the adjoining room, Roman shades with gold striped fabric. The drapes have a relationship to one another, but are clearly not the same.

I recommend buying the window treatments together and laying them side by side in the store to ensure that they work together.


Most likely, the flooring between your two rooms will be the same - like a carpeting or a hardwood. If you're selecting rugs for each room, keep in mind that the rugs do NOT have to match! Opposite patterns (floral and stripes, for example) create visual interest and keep the space moving. You can also select one plain rug and one that features a pattern. You can see that even those these rooms are connected I have put the opposite in each room pattern wise. The dining room has a neutral area rug and bolder drapes where as the sitting room has a bolder patterned rug and more neutral drapes.


When painting the walls, a neutral in one room and a non-neutral in the other room may be easiest to coordinate. You can also choose two non-neutral colors from your palette, but be careful to avoid making the spaces too dark. Lighter colors are less intrusive and overwhelming.

Add molding, wallpaper, fun fabrics, and textiles just as you would any room, but make each room have its own statement - if one has wallpaper, the other should have a paint color that works with that wallpaper. You can also incorporate an accent wall into the space, visible from both rooms.

Don’t forget the ceilings!

Usually these rooms are separated by a larger doorway (pillars anyone? haha) so it’s easy to dress up the ceiling with trim work or wallpaper. They do NOT need to match but should complement each other. In this design I added complimentary trim work to the ceiling and the sitting room to have shiplap. The living room has no recessed lighting so the shiplap will definitely make this ceiling worth looking up to. Not a fan of shiplap but have lower ceilings? Do shorter height beams to create a coffered ceiling!

Dining room design render, dining room design
Dining Room Design by Maria Bowers


When selecting furnishings for each room, choose furniture that shares some characteristics, whether they're made from similar materials, or have chairs with upholstery that coordinates much like the window treatments. The furniture does not need to all come from the same large furniture set at the store. In fact, I've spoken out against buying furniture from a set in my blog. Furniture sets create a homogenous environment that takes the fun out of decorating and lessens the  personality of the home.

Light Fixtures

Your light fixtures don't need to match either, but choose fixtures that have finishes that coordinate, if not match. Copper finishes can combine with brushed chrome, for example. If there are shades, make sure those are in a coordinating style as well. For example, don’t pair a traditional tapered style shade with a modern drum shade.

adjoining room layout design, room layout
Adjoining Room Layout design by Maria Bowers

Some Tips for Layout for Adjoining Rooms

  • Avoid getting too matchy-matchy. Notice that I'm not using the word "match" much in this article - it's all about coordination rather than matching.

  • Consider how the two rooms look from different vantage points. As you're determining how to coordinate adjoining rooms, take time to sit in each room and look at your creation from different angles. What's working? What isn't?

  • Use a single accent color to tie the rooms together. I like to tie together the two rooms with repetition of a single color found in both spaces. This creates some continuity.

  • Give each space its own personality and character! Your dining room might be a more formal space, for example, and the sitting room a more casual space. This is alright!

  • Use a single stylistic element to bring the two spaces together. Whether it's organic shapes or hard straight lines, I recommend choosing some shape or stylistic element that repeats in both spaces to create some continuity.

Need Help with Layout for Adjoining Rooms? Contact a New Jersey Interior Designer!

Knowing how to coordinate adjoining rooms can be tough, so I recommend turning to an expert when you're trying to pull together a design of this sort. From the color selection to the coordination of the furniture, there's just a lot to think about with this type of remodel. Want more information, or maybe help from a pro? Contact me to get started.

Until next time,

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