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September 2nd 2015
3 min read

Open Plan Living

Homes with an open plan design have now become very popular, with many families preferring larger combined spaces enabling them to spend time together even when pursuing different activities. In addition, an open floor plan can make the home feel larger, even if it is relatively small. By removing doorways and enlarging the openings to dining and living areas, you create a sense of spaciousness.

In the past, houses were designed to suit the way people then lived, with separate rooms for different activities.

A kitchen to cook in, a dining room to eat in and lounge to sit in were the norm, but as times change so does what we want from our homes.

With our increasingly busy lifestyles, convenience and sociability are very important - which is why kitchen diners have grown in popularity. It is much nicer to remain a part of everything when preparing a meal rather than being shut away in the kitchen whilst everyone else is chatting in another room. However, whilst open plan homes may look great and come with obvious benefits, there are also some downsides such as cooking smells wafting into living spaces, nowhere to hide the mess you have made and noise that transmits easily around the house. One solution would be to consider fitting sliding doors, preferably the type which slide right back into the walls and become invisible when not in use.

How to zone different areas
Open plan spaces can also lack a sense of intimacy and cosiness but this can easily be overcome and you can have the best of both worlds by creating zones for different activities. Storage units are a good way of creating partitions whilst serving a useful purpose in solving the problem of a lack of space for shelving, allowing you to display books and a few favourite ornaments.

A popular trend at the moment is for central fireplaces which add a sense of warmth and homeliness to an open, modern layout and work particularly well when positioned between a living and dining room.

An L-shaped sofa and stylish armchairs can be arranged to create a living area for relaxing and family gatherings thus establishing a seating zone. Add a rug and a coffee table for an inviting and comfortable look.

An easy way of breaking up spaces is to use different flooring materials. Perhaps use tiles in the kitchen then swap to a wooden floor in the dining space to define the two areas without the use of any tangible divide.

You can also use lighting to visually separate various areas - for example why not use down lighters in the kitchen, then hanging two or more pendants low over a dining table to set it apart as a gathering point.

Decorating an open plan space
With fewer walls and more open floor space, furnishing and decorating your new space is very different from working on individual rooms. For the space to flow naturally, it is important that there is a consistency to the decoration, perhaps by keeping the colour scheme neutral to provide an easy backdrop to work with. Pale colours such as soft blues and greens as well as off-whites, oatmeal and coffee shades are ideal but you also need to distinguish individual areas and add an addition of colour and pattern with rugs, feature wallpapers and accessories. However, all the colours and patterns you choose should work with your neutral backdrop and have elements in common; otherwise they will spoil the consistent feel of your open-plan space.