Multi-Purpose Living Room Case Study – North York | Project by Level Studio

Case Study:

Multi-purpose living room designed for a small family in the city dwelling

With the prices of homes skyrocketing in the GTA and developers making the layouts of new homes smaller and narrower, it is tricky even for interior designers to sometimes come up with a layout that is functional and beautiful. However, these challenges make our career’s so exciting and rewarding when we see the end result come together.

This is a case study of a recent project of ours that involved redesigning the ground floor of a town home in North York. The homeowners were stumped when it came to figuring out a functional and efficient floor plan that could accommodate themselves, their two young children ages 3 and 1 as well as guests.

The Client's Wish List

  • The television had to be located near the existing cable outlet
  • Prefer art over the fireplace than a television
  • Storage for children’s toys and dining
  • A place for the children to play
  • Dining table to accommodate 10 people
  • The aesthetic was left to us and after reviewing the client’s inspiration images we noticed a favour towards blue and gold.

The Existing Floor Plan

The floor plan was tricky because it was narrow and quite long.


Our jumping off point was circulation. Thinking about how someone – especially with two young kids would act in this space and get from one end to the other in the most direct and efficient route possible. We needed to take into account certain things like car seats, strollers, kids running around, storage and practicality. How would a young family first act when they walked through the door and how would they carry on with their day?

Layout 1

This layout is okay but it is not ideal. The sitting area by the foyer is a cute little space that would photograph well but will rarely be used, especially for a family with small children where every inch of space counts. We doubt anyone would ever sit in these chairs and have a conversation.

Putting the dining table in front of the fireplace satisfies the want of having art above it. It would feel a little out of place when your first enter the home to have a dining table right there. Having the bench rather than six chairs would allow it to feel less intrusive and would frame that area nicely. However, the adjacency between the kitchen and dining is farther than most people would prefer.

The living area makes great use of such a large space by placing a media stand by the staircase. The main issue with this would be glare from the window on the television screen as well as the re-cabling to get the television in this location which was an issue for the client. The television is also in the way of a direct circulation route which isn’t a big deal but it might get annoying when watching a movie or game with a larger group of people.

Layout 2

This layout is how a lot of people would tackle this space. They see a fireplace and want to throw a television right above it. With this existing floor plan, it would be a little tight around the closet area, especially with small children or a larger group of people when they first enter because the sofa creates a giant barrier. Imagine bringing in a car seat or stroller with two kids in layout.

The seating area by the window now becomes a greater part of the living space and the two ottomans allow the flexibility to move them around. They can be part of the reading chairs or watching television without blocking the view. Choosing two chairs for the heads of the dining table that are different from the other four would allow them to be placed in the living room when more people are over without feeling out of place.

The problem here is circulation and functionality. How functional is this space with two small kids? Plus, the furniture groupings make the floor feel like one giant space with no order or distinct areas.

The Recommended Layout

This Layout is what we went with because it checks off all the boxes for our clients.

The television is right by the cable outlet. Putting a small console table behind the sectional allowed a table lamp on it for reading and a small bowl for keys and mail when you first enter the home.

There is art above the fireplace which gives a more sophisticated feel.

Plenty of storage for kids toys and dining accessories.

Most of the furniture chosen is compact which allows for easy maneuverability for when people are over and when the kids want to play. We chose darker colours for the sectional and rug so they can withstand spills and stains evident with young children and not be as noticeable.

The round coffee tables nest into each other and can be moved into the corner by the return of the sectional. The ottoman can then move to the sectional which opens up the area for the kids to play on a carpeted floor. The love seat and blue storage sideboard act as a divider between the living and dining spaces and everything is still open concept. We put drawers on the bottom shelves to hide kids toys with the top open for decor and books.

The four chairs we picked for the kitchen nook can move into the dining room. The table we selected expands to accommodate 10 people. Having furniture that has more than one use is very beneficial in smaller spaces and choosing colours that work in different rooms is practical.

Finally, the circulation route is direct and undisturbed which is important when you have a family of four with a car seat, stroller and toys. It allows everyone to get in, take off your coats, put things down in a smart and efficient matter and move on with your day.

This was a fun project to work on and there are a million different ways to tackle it. Understanding your wants, needs and budget will help develop a layout that is perfectly tailored to you and your lifestyle.