Mar 24, 2017 Décor

How to Actually Lay Out an Open Floor Plan

by Gabrielle Savoie
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Tessa NeustadtDESIGN: Amber Interiors

Open floor plans are great (in theory)—they keep the family together, encourage quality time, and are more fun when entertaining—no one likes to cook alone while everyone else is having a good time in the next room. At first sight, they can also be hard to lay out. While closed dining rooms and living rooms have clear guidelines as to where each piece of furniture should go, open floor plans are more up to interpretation: Where should the dining table go? Is there space for a sectional? How do I visually separate the different spaces?

These increasingly popular family rooms vary so widely in shapes and sizes, and each comes with its own set of challenges. To shed light on the conundrums of open floor plans, we chose five different rooms and laid out the ultimate setup in each one. Is your space extremely small, L-shaped, or very wide? We dreamed up your ideal floor plan—just adapt to your space and enjoy.

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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

In a smaller living space—say, 12'x18' or smaller—it may be challenging to squeeze both a dining area and a living area. If you can't do both spaces justice, forgo the dining table and set up an eating area on your kitchen counter instead. After all, what are open kitchens for if not casual dining?

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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

If your space is larger but still on the narrow side, add a dining table between your kitchen island and your living area—just make sure to leave 3 feet of traffic space between each section. If space allows, a sectional will provide more seating—a great option if you don't have space for accent chairs.

PHOTO:

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

In an L-shaped layout, the choice is yours to have either the dining table or living space closer to the kitchen. Consider whether you entertain often and want easy access to your kitchen from your dining table, or if you're more of a home cook and would rather have direct sights on the TV when preparing dinner. Another thing to consider is windows: a space with many windows can be better suited to a dining room—which can provide sweeping views at night and direct sunlight in the morning. If your dining area is on the squarer side, opt for a round dining table that will allow for easy navigation.

PHOTO:

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

If your space is wider—beyond 18 feet—avoid pushing the sofa against the wall, as this will leave a lot of awkward space between the seating and the TV console. Instead, consider floating the sofa in the room and placing the dining table behind it. Alternatively, a console behind the sofa can help the space feel like a walkway—especially if it's leading to another room or a door to the courtyard.

PHOTO:

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Some spaces like the one above are almost more like a traditional closed-room floor plan without the walls. Visually separate the areas with rugs, but keep an open flow to make the rooms easy to navigate. If your dining area is on the narrower side, swap a few dining chairs for a dining bench that can easily be tucked under the table. If your entry hall doubles as a dining room, kitchen, or living room, create separation by adding a console table and a row of coat hooks. A bulkier console or credenza can be practical here, doubling as a buffet or dinnerware storage.

Next up: the zero-cost way to give your dining room new life.