Open floor plans can be challenging. Yes, they are typically bright and spacious and keep everyone in one general area, but they can also become over-cluttered and awkward. It is best to assess the space and create a design plan so that your space flows nicely, both functionally and aesthetically. As I always say, design should be fun! Here are some basic tips for decorating an open living room:
Define specific spaces. It’s critical to define spaces within your space. Does that make sense? You want to make sure there is a designated area for different purposes, such as lounging, dining, working, etc. The best way to do this is to anchor each area, or one main area, with a rug. For example, we have our sitting space (where the sofa and television area) anchored with a 9×12 rug. It makes it obvious that this is the “living room” area while the opposing sides of the room are clearly designated for dining and for other purposes.
Float the furniture. If your space isn’t too narrow, I recommend floating the furniture for a couple of reasons. First, it makes the area feel more open by allowing walkways around the furniture, not just in front of it. Second, floating furniture allows the different spaces within your open room to flow together. For instance, if you are sitting on a chair that’s floating between the living and dining space, you could be facing either way. This creates a more natural flow and more comfortable environment for conversation.
Create proper storage. Minimizing clutter is key when properly executing an open layout. There are so many creative storage ideas these days and countless retail resources to use that there is no excuse for clutter! If you need wine storage, consider a nice bar with cabinets. If you need toy storage, opt for email me for e-design or a coffee table with hidden storage. If you want to display your pictures and trinkets, how about a beautiful open shelf cabinet? The opportunities are endless for beautiful, functional storage.
Keep it flowing. The key to creating a cohesive open living space is decorating with similar styles and colors. Our living room is a mix of neutrals – whites, grays, browns and blues. We have different hues in each area but they flow together nicely. The best part is I can move around accessories (art, mirrors, vases, books, décor) and they work in each space. It’s like a free home makeover each time I shop my own rooms!
Adapt to your lifestyle. While I am all about taking examples email me for e-design and pulling inspiration from design sources, it is important to remember that this is a space in which you have to live. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. The people before us had a 6-person rectangular dining table but we didn’t need that much space dedicated to eating. For us, a small 4-person round table serves as both a comfortable dining area for 4 as well as a makeshift desk area for when either of us works from home.
Keep furniture to scale. I often find that scale is one of the areas people struggle with the most in furniture layout / home design. I can’t tell you how much I cringe when I see a massive, oversized sofa in a small living space. Or even worse, a tiny rug in a big open area! It is important to keep an appropriate scale not only for the room but within the furniture. It would be silly to have a huge, bulky dining hutch next to a tiny 2-person sofa. Keep everything around the same scale so that it is cohesive and flows well together. If you’re unsure of where to start, there are some great online tools for balancing scale. A good rule of thumb is to keep the furniture in the same general height in an open space (aside from a vertical piece) so that you don’t have a 24” side table next to a 50” hutch next to a 36” dining table. Make sense?
With all of the open floor plans that we see these days, I hope this is able to help you feel comfortable planning and executing the best layout. Don’t over think it! And if you need additional help feel free to email me for e-design.
Sources: sectional (in pebble heathered weave) / rug / coffee table / bar cabinet / white lamp / white wall frames / photograph, commissioned / white vases – Homegoods, similar / dining table / ghost chairs / black console table / blue + white vase / mirror – old, similar / abstract art – vintage, similar (actually like this one better!)