The ubiquitous open-floor plan has dominated architectural trends since the 1990s, and it’s still as popular as ever. In an open-floor plan, two or more spaces that were traditionally separate rooms are joined together to create one large room. Usually, this involves the kitchen, living room, and/or dining room.
An open-floor plan gives a home a sense of cohesiveness and improves traffic flow. Rooms are largely delineated by furniture and a kitchen island, making an open-floor plan a versatile option that can be reconfigured as needed.
The benefits of an open-floor plan include shared natural light, improved real estate value, and greater family communication. The downsides include higher heating and cooling expenses, poor sound control, and a lack of privacy.
Despite the negatives, most families love their open-floor plan, and you can love yours, too. Here are some tips for rocking an open-floor plan.
Create Balance and Symmetry
At first glance, a large, open-floor space can be overwhelming, since there are so many ways to set it up. A good way to approach it is with an eye to symmetry. For example, if your space is a long room with a fireplace at one end and the kitchen at the other, place two couches facing each other on a rug in front of the fireplace. Position the dining table symmetrically in the middle of the room, between the couches and the kitchen island. From there, you can add smaller pieces like side tables or shelves, keeping balance in mind. Use art on the walls to help create symmetry and harmony in your room.
Keep it Practical
Design your open-floor plan to work with the way you live. If work is a big part of your daily life at home, create a small office space in your floor plan. If you have small children who play while you cook or watch TV, design a safe, open space for them where you can easily supervise them. If your kids are older, designate a spot for homework, and stock it with all of the necessary supplies. Establish a comfy, cozy, out-of-the-way corner where one family member can curl up to read while the rest of the family watches TV. If you only eat at your dining table twice a year and sit at the island the rest of the time, ditch the table and use cloth-covered folding tables instead, and use the extra space for something you will use, like more seating, or a piano, or a crafting area.
Cozy It Up
A large, open space can feel too open and too large if you don’t pay some mind to the empty spaces and correct any imbalances. To cozy it up, create a small conversation area in an awkward corner, or fill the space in front of a large window with potted plants, which will love the light. Use color and texture to add intimacy. Warm colors in a large space can make it feel softer and more accessible. Rugs make a space feel cozy and cohesive, as do throw pillows, wall art, and ambient lighting.
Unify the Spaces
Keep unity in mind as you design your open-floor plan. You don’t have to go all matchy-matchy, but you want to have common threads that give the impression of a single, unified space. To this end, you can use color, texture, materials, and accessories like plants and rugs to tie your spaces together. For example, if you have a neutral palette, incorporate touches of a luscious complementary hue into each space, whether in pillows, art, upholstery, or rugs.
Limit the Color Palette
The color palette for your open-floor plan is one of the most important considerations. Too many colors will make the whole space feel cluttered and busy, while too few colors can make it feel monotonous and boring. To keep the space feeling calm, and to create a cohesive look, choose a limited color palette. Stick to the same or related tones for the upholstery on the sofa and dining chairs, and choose a complementary hue for armchairs, pillows, and accessories. Keep colors balanced and consistent throughout.
Mind the Floor
If possible, stick to a single flooring material throughout your open-floor plan. This increases the versatility of your space, since different flooring types aren’t delineating the spaces for you. A single flooring material is also a great unifying factor for your room. Consider engineered hardwood floors for your space, which is less expensive and more durable than hardwood. Tile flooring is also a good choice, especially if you live in a warm climate, but rugs are essential for softening a tiled space.
Use Focal Points for Interest
Another good way to unify your room while defining the various spaces within is to use focal points. A focal point is a particularly interesting piece, such as a royal blue couch, a fancy chandelier, or a giant Arabesque-tile backsplash, that creates immediate visual interest and draws the eye to the space. Focal points keep things lively and help bump up the coziness factor of your room.
Plan the Lighting
You don’t want to be bathed in bright overhead light at all times when you’re home, so create lighting zones, and incorporate plenty of task and ambient lighting to create the atmosphere you want at any given time. Smart lighting systems let you control your lights with a remote control, which you can also use to change the hue of the light bulbs. Stay fairly consistent with your lighting fixtures. A combination of recessed lighting, table and floor lamps, and pendant lighting or chandeliers can provide you with a lighting scheme that works for you, but too many decorative fixtures can look confusing. Find a common theme in your fixtures, whether it’s a color, material, style, or era, and stick with it throughout the space.
Creating zones, keeping things cozy, maintaining balance, and properly lighting your open-floor plan will ensure your home is both practical and beautiful. Choose pieces for your home that you love, and inject your space with your family’s personality and lifestyle. An open-floor plan, after all, is all about family and connection.