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As homeowners put not-so-big-house principles into practice, downsize into smaller homes and plan more efficient uses of space, we often see the formal living room and casual family room merging into one. Casual comfort meets luxe accents and grand fireplaces meet TVs and smart built-ins. This is the case in photos of living rooms and family rooms. Here’s a look at some of them.

Shades of Gray
The popularity of gray showed no signs of waning this spring. Notice the subtle color of the walls (Gray Cloud by Benjamin Moore).

Detail worth noting: Yes, stylish ceiling fans do exist. This one is called Haiku.

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In this large family room outside Chicago, shades of gray add calmness. Color takes a back seat to the soaring ceiling, expansive windows and a range of textures, from smooth alabaster to hefty wood beams.

Detail worth noting: Sometimes the scale of such a high ceiling can be overwhelming. Here, the proportions of the beams, windows, fireplace and chandelier make the height feel comfortable.

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No Drywall
I’m not sure who gets the credit, but shiplap, tongue-and-groove paneling, butt boards, beadboard and V-groove paneling are bringing texture to many of today’s most popular family room and living room walls.

Detail worth noting: The rug ties this seating area together.

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Smart Built-Ins
Whether you need library-style book storage, a place to hide media equipment and toys, a proper place to store musical instruments or a good way to show off your favorite objects and photographs, there’s a built-in solution that will work for you. This popular shot has a variety of storage offerings all along one wall: concealed storage with drawers and cabinet doors, open storage for books, sculptures, plants and photos. There’s even room for windows.

Detail worth noting: The weathered reclaimed beam that serves as the mantel is a well-worn contrast to the crisp white paint.

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I doubt these homeowners had unpacked all of their moving boxes before the photographer showed up. Here we’re able to visualize these lovely built-ins in their own homes filled with their own things.

Detail worth noting: The metal grilles on the built-ins’ doors. This is a good way to dress up cabinets while partially obscuring the view into them.

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Fantastic Fireplaces
This is one of the coziest family rooms I’ve seen in a while — plenty of books to choose from, overstuffed furniture, a few plaid patterns tossed about and that wonderful fieldstone fireplace.

Detail worth noting: Check out the way the drapery rods are mounted into the thick crown molding.

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Stylish Sectionals
There was a time when furniture like reclining chairs and sectional sofas scored high in comfort but abysmally low in style. Today, style has more than caught up. We find chic sectionals not only in the expected places such as casual family rooms, but also sliding into formal living rooms.

Detail worth noting: The oversize lantern navigates the split-level space. It hangs over the entryway but also plays an important role in the living room.

Browse stylish sectionals

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Another fabulous sectional cozies up a San Francisco family room within an open floor plan.

Detail worth noting: The way the pillow fabrics work with the kitchen backsplash. By the way, this “sofascape” is a lesson in how to mix colors, patterns and scales of patterns when choosing throw pillows.

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Artful Hanging
Displaying favorite family or travel photos can be tricky. How do they wind up in so many different frames and mats, looking like a total hodgepodge? Matching frames, photo sizes and large white mats tie the photos together. Hanging them in a perfect grid also creates cohesion.

Detail worth noting: The coffee table, stump side table and fiddle leaf fig tree in a basket add natural textures to the room.

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Clever Lighting
Lighting is an important part of living and family rooms, whether to read by, to highlight objects or to create a mood. In this sleek Miami living room, a soffit provides a recessed cove for overhead lighting, creating a soft glow around the tray ceiling. There’s lighting in the built-ins as well.

Detail worth noting: The TV wall has hidden storage drawers cleverly camouflaged within the wood panels.

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