I’m often on the hunt for inspiration for two story great rooms and recently came across this one designed by Lillian August for the 2012 Hampton Designer Show House. This space has one of the very best designs I’ve seen from color selection to furniture scale to window treatments. Regardless of your decor style, there are many valuable lessons to learn from this space.

Two story rooms, though stunning, are a challenge for homeowners and truthfully some designers, too! It takes knowledge of scale and proportion and a healthy budget to bring a room this size to its greatest potential. Below I’ve listed a number of important factors to consider when decorating a space like this and hope to provide you with inspiration as well as some practical advice.


Window treatments bring the greatest amount of wow factor into a tall space primarily because they draw your eye upward. They emphasize the sheer greatness of the room and therefore NEVER should be one of the items you skimp on.

In this space, privacy is not an issue and the windows are left uncovered allowing a generous view to the outdoors. Large windows visually connect the indoors with the outdoors and as a bonus the weather sets the mood for the space on any given day.


Let’s first agree that regardless of the colors chosen for the space, the size alone makes it pretty impressive. A subtle palette of gray, purple, beige, and blue allows the room to breathe and its inhabitants to relax. This is a seaside home, but I love how the colors aren’t the traditional nautical or sea glass-like hues yet evoke they same feelings of calmness.


The furniture selection should be based on how you intend to use the space. The designer never intended this great room to act as a formal space. It was designed to be a casual area for lounging and conversation. The largest piece of furniture, the sectional, reinforces the idea to stretch out a bit and is a welcomed diversion from more buttoned up spaces.

The sectional borrows the most neutral hue from the drapery fabric and establishes the basis of color. A pair of chairs flank the exterior doors, but their color prevents them from distracting from the view outdoors. An upholstered bench adjacent to the sectional introduces a touch of complementary pattern to the room and provides mobile seating. Its low scale also gives clear sight lines to the room’s focal point.

Table surfaces are kept to a minimum thanks to the generously-sized coffee table. There is also a desk behind the sofa for a moment to check emails or a bit of letter writing. Again, this space is very casual. Anything more than that would be reserved for the home office.


Here lies the answer to one of the most harrowing questions, “What to do with the walls?” The designer cleverly uses framed grass cloth wallpaper to occupy the soaring real estate. The combination of paneling and wallpaper adds another dimension to the room as well as beautiful texture. Its presence is definitely felt, and admired, yet it does not feel overpowering.

On the floor, the interlocking rope motif on the area rug is one of the few nods to a nautical theme (much appreciated) and it’s watery hue is a delicate contrast to the rich hardwood flooring.

The ever popular fiddle fig leaf tree contributes an element of life to the room while it also benefits from the streaming sunlight from the neighboring windows.


The opposite side of the room boasts modestly styled built-in bookcases. More emphasis is place on the elegant moldings than accessories and rightfully so!

This room goes down as one of the top ten spaces that inspire my own home. Comfortable, stylish, family-friendly, and spacious what more could I ask for? Well, a beach-front view wouldn’t hurt…

photo credit: Habitually Chic, Quintessence, Sag Harbor Online


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About Erika Ward

Multi-passionate entrepreneur, spokesperson, speaker, and philanthropist, Erika Hollinshead Ward worked in the design-build industry as an accountant before turning her passion for interior design into a successful business. Named by Atlanta Tribune as having one of the top design firms for two consecutive years, Erika is a highly sought after expert whose work has appeared in several media outlets such as House Beautiful Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, Fox 5 (Atlanta Affiliate), Huffington Post, and many others. Her influential voice in the home improvement sector has lead to marketing collaborations with leading home and lifestyle brands including Home Depot, S.C. Johnson, and Home Decorators Collection. Erika holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia and resides in Atlanta with her husband and five children. With her sharp business acumen and design prowess, you can rest assured that she is one to watch as a voice for working mothers, women entrepreneurs, and interior design enthusiasts.

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  1. Mary Says:

    I too think this room has several great ideas. My favorite two are the drapes and the grass cloth panels. So often rooms of this size are unfriendly echo chambers. Noise just seems to rattle around making the space feel hard. All the fabric should help absorb the echo and make the room much more welcoming.



    Erika, I love how you broke down the elements in this room. I, too, have a two story echo chamber. One of the first things that I did was to design custom window coverings to acknowledge the grandness of the room. And to absorb sound! Thank you so much for mentioning how window treatments can add to the “wow” factor of a 2 story room like this one What type of Pleat did they have on the draperies? Grommet, pinch pleated, ? I’m dying to know.


  3. Darnetha Says:

    I love this space, it is so inviting, just the way I like a space. It makes me want to move right in!


  4. Rosa Says:

    I loved your room so much I had to use it on my blog, and of course had to tweet your post. Congratulations! Rosa



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