7 Design-Savvy Ideas for Open Floor Plans

Chastity Fabry

As living spaces move toward more-casual open floor plans, you’ll find that they provide endless opportunities for you to get creative with decorating and your furniture arrangements. After all, open floor plans encourage you to create distinct areas, section off cozy corners, or combine what would normally be different rooms, such as your office and your dining area, into one large multipurpose space. There are definite tried-and-true tricks that can help you master your own open floor plan design—and we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spaces that are sure to guide and inspire you.

Photo by Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Photo by Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Get Set with Some Symmetry

An easy way to tackle an expansive space is to create a balanced look with your larger furniture pieces. Doubling up sofas for a sumptuous seating area and complementing it with a big dining table and matching chairs will instantly play up a symmetrical look and bring order to your room. From there, you can add smaller moments of contrast, such as this rustic retreat’s mismatched trunks and desk and its framed art in groupings of six. Keeping to a palette of neutrals and natural tones will also add to the light, airy vibe of any wide open room.

Photo by Jessica Sample

Make Big with Practical Spaces

Open kitchens make for perfect gathering spots, but there’s no need to fall back on a classic kitchen-dining arrangement. Consider a more convivial approach by turning the kitchen island into an everyday dining surface with barstools and arranging a seating area with deep sofas and chairs just adjacent. The result is a space that is big on everyday comfort and lounging—and feels a little less formal and buttoned-up. Feel free to bring in brights and patterns for your upholstery—or mix in a few stylish stain-resistant designs—to dial up cozy charm in a big space.

Photo by Lesley Unruh

Create Cozy Corners

With an open floor plan, you have lots of creative freedom to carve out distinct areas that serve specific purposes. If you’re at a loss, try looking to the corners of your space. For instance, this double wall of windows provides bountiful light perfect for a lush nook heavy with potted greenery, while the corner opposite became ideal for a perpendicular dining area. While your two areas can feel distinctly different, you can also create a more cohesive look with color, such as the blue, white, and natural palette that spans both areas here.

Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Lay Out Conversation Areas

In open floor plans, rugs are a wonderfully foolproof way to delineate conversation spaces. The large natural-fiber rug in this sitting room provides a firm foundation that ties together the room, while hide rugs layered on top help to demarcate the sleek seating area from the formal piano corner. It’s a particularly clever tactic if your furnishings veer toward the eclectic, as the common thread of layered rugs in each area can help unify the styles and designs.

Photo by Manuel Rodriguez

Photo by Manuel Rodriguez

Maximize for Multipurpose Use

Consider the classic living, dining, and kitchen layout for a tried-and-true arrangement. Start with a linear approach, placing your anchor pieces, such as sofa, dining table, and kitchen island, parallel and perpendicular to each other as you see fit; the effect creates a clean-lined and well-balanced look. To help unify the spaces, keep materials and colorful details consistent—be it woven accents that are picked up in all three areas, dark wood tones throughout, or vivid art on multiple walls.

Photo by Alexander James/Interior Archive

Photo by Alexander James/Interior Archive

Put Wood Designs to Work

While substantial furniture pieces, such as big upholstery and a banquet-length table, will fill out an open floor plan beautifully, there’s a certain panache in sticking to wood pieces with slender silhouettes. This open living space is proof that tailored midcentury-inspired wood designs can lend gorgeous modern appeal while maintaining the airy feel of the room. Also, the slim designs allow for plenty of walk-around room as well as a compact work space.

Photo by Lesley Unruh

Opt for a Modern Great Room

Take a page from elegant great rooms with soaring ceilings and towering windows for an open living and dining space brimming with sophistication—but with a modern sensibility. No need to go overboard with patterns, rich leathers, and deep colors. Try this sitting room’s lighter approach, with a pair of simple yet bright sofas, accents of gold and crystal, and minimalist abstract art that bridges the living and dining areas. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a white, gold, and blond-wood color scheme, which can also help soften ornate architectural details in rooms.

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