With open kitchens becoming the norm and condo living increasing in popularity, open-plan spaces are multiplying. Long gone are the days of formal living rooms and enclosed kitchens à la Mad Men. But as much as open-plan living can be a lesson in togetherness, styling a space to encourage family time can be challenging.
Our human instinct is to push furniture against walls—a big no-no for many interior designers—so open-plan living is a chance to experiment with layouts. While walls once provided us with a paint-by-number furniture plan of sorts, the open-plan space is more akin to a blank canvas, where anything is possible. Where do we put the TV? What's the best way to tackle storage? How do we create separate living areas in one big open space? To navigate the world of open floor plans more easily, we're giving you 11 tips that can help inspire your layout. So grab a pen and paper, and draft the living area of your dreams.
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It's common practice to assume that the sofa should face a wall—preferably one with a TV on it. But if you're not much of a Netflix-and-chiller, why not move your floor plan around and have the sofa face the rest of the room? Putting dining chairs back-to-back with lounge chairs will also create a separation in the space while keeping it open for circulation. This setup is great for entertaining.
Let go of the idea that a sofa should be backed up against a wall, and float it in the middle of the room—this is especially efficient with sectionals, which can create visual separation on their own due to their shape.
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Are you a rug aficionado? Us too. One of the easiest ways to separate a living and dining space is to anchor each with a rug. Most rugs will work together, but when in doubt, keep a similar style or color palette.
When floating a sofa in an open room, back it with a console table. It provides storage and a place for drinks, and it's visually more appealing than the back of a sofa.
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If you're not much of an adventurer when it comes to mixing and matching, repeat the same rug multiple times to visually separate the space.
Round tables are a great alternative for smaller open-plan spaces. The circular shape helps keep everything contained in one corner. They also look great against built-in bookcases where you can store dinnerware, linens, and display a fully stocked bar.
Close out open spaces with a pair of statement chairs. While it would have been easy in this space to place a sofa across from the TV and call it a day, the pair of chairs create a separation between the kitchen and living area.
This is one of our favorite hacks for keeping a space open while still providing separation—use open-ended bookcases. This is a great setup to hide away kitchen clutter when entertaining, or to keep an eye on children playing in the next room.
Create visual continuity in the space through color. In this room, shades of white, warm woods and grays are repeated from the living area to the eat-in kitchen, creating a coherent space.
A plant wall is as good a visual separation as any. Bring the outside in, and separate living areas while keeping everything light and airy.
If the space allows, space out your different living areas by a few feet. This room could have easily accommodated a long dining table, but a smaller round one leaves room to breathe—visually and physically.