How to Pull Off an Open-Concept Design

Open-concept floor plans are becoming the most attractive layouts for a lot of homeowners these days, and for good reason.  They are ideal for entertaining and family living and can make a space look and feel significantly larger than if walls sectioned each space.  There are several tricks to maximizing the design of an open-concept and creating a cohesive look throughout.


Be selective with finishes.

While choosing flooring, countertops, table finishes, cabinetry, fixtures, etc., keep in mind that you'll be seeing all the elements at the same time, and too many different finishes will make it feel like there's too much going on.  Finishes don't have to match exactly, but combining lots of different wood grains and metals will make it harder to achieve a cohesive look throughout.

Let Lighting Help Define Spaces

Lighting has the capability to create dramatic style focal points in a space. In an open concept, it's important that light fixtures jive well together and don't fight for attention.  If you have a large fixture over a kitchen island and the dining room is nearby, a simpler fixture may work better over the table.  Lighting will also help define spaces, such as using a large-scale pendant light in the center of a living area.

Utilize Built-In Storage

Because of the lack of walls to separate spaces, there are fewer places to place storage units in each room.  Built-ins work well in open-concept spaces for maximized storage, and also to help tie in a kitchen design to a dining or living space.  Below, the built-ins around the fireplace and room divider tie in well with the kitchen cabinets.

Use Same Ceiling & Flooring Throughout

In the above picture, the dark hardwood appears to pull through the entire space, as does the white plank ceiling, creating a connected feel between spaces, even while being sectioned off by the columns and partial wall.


Float Furniture

If you've never lived in a large or open-concept space before, the temptation would be to place all furniture against walls to maximize the space. However, in the open-concept floor plan, it begs to be divided into different areas of function.  It may be necessary, for example, to float a couch or a couple chairs to section off the living space.  If a couch is sectioning off the space and doesn't have an attractive back, place a sofa table behind it with decorative accents.

Define Spaces Using Rugs

After floating furniture, reinforce the definition of spaces using area rugs underneath living area furniture and/or a dining room set. Because a lot of open-concept spaces have hard flooring, area rugs will also help make things look and feel cozier.  

Use Appropriately-Scaled Pieces

If the space is large, use large furniture pieces and accents that are proportional to the space so they don't feel lost. Adjust accordingly for smaller areas. You'll want to make sure the furniture and other items in the room fill the space adequately without feeling crowded.  Leave 3' walkways between furniture pieces for good flow.

Keep Sightlines in Mind

One of the most attractive things about open concept (to those who are into open-concept, that is) is feeling connected to other rooms and the people in them.  While arranging the layout, think about what you'll be seeing in the sightlines of each function within the spaces.  For example, do you want to be able to see your kids, guests, or the TV in the living room while you're cooking?  If so, you'll maybe want to add a cooking surface in the island facing the living area instead of in perimeter cabinets and the couch in the living room facing toward the kitchen.


Pick a Style & Use it Throughout

While it's generally a good idea to pick a style in your overall home so rooms flow well together, it's even more crucial in an open-concept layout.  Flow textures, finishes, colors, patterns, and other elements throughout the entire space for a beautiful, cohesive space.

Choose One Color Scheme for the Space

Much like style, you won't want more than one color scheme going on in one open space.  While you can surely add more of a color in one area and more of a different color in an adjacent space, all colors should go well together as they'll be seen at once.  To add depth of color without getting too busy/colorful, use different shades and tints of the same color throughout the space.

For wall paint, you may choose to select one neutral color throughout. If you prefer a little more definition in the spaces, you'll want to make sure that adjacent wall colors work together as they'll be seen at the same time.

It takes a bit of strategy to pull off a well-balanced, unified look in an open-concept space, but hopefully using these tips will help you create a space you can be proud to live and entertain in!

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