How To Style An Open Plan Living Space

Open plan living spaces come in many different combinations. From simple lounge/diners to family rooms that combine with breakfast kitchens, each presents its own challenges in terms of styling. Nowadays, more and more new build homes are constructed with at least one open plan living space that combines the functions of two or more reception rooms.

Homes with well designed open plan living rooms tend to add desirability, so reorganizing your home around one could hike up the value of your property. The key to a stylish open plan living space is to allow freedom of movement and uninterrupted eye lines, whilst still making each zone of the room maintain its own distinctive character.

Multiple Vistas.

The best place for an open plan living space, generally speaking, is at the rear facing aspect of the home. The front of the house can remain relatively formal whilst, as you progress through the home, the layout becomes more relaxed and family focused.

If your open plan living space is like this, then make sure you get the best out of the rear garden, too. Bi-folding doors that afford views over the garden will only add to the sense of an open plan room. Add to the feel with side aspect French doors or windows.

Dual, or even triple, aspects are definitely the way to go. The addition of skylights, or a lantern ceiling, into an open plan living area will only augment the look. And if that is not possible, opt for floor-to-ceiling windows instead.

L Shapes.

Corners and L shapes are perfect in larger open plan rooms. This is because big rectangular rooms can feel like you have stepped into a soulless warehouse, rather than feeling homely. L shapes, no matter how large, instantly tend to feel cosier. An L shaped room already creates three distinct zones within an open plan living space which is a big advantage when it comes to arranging your furniture.

Typically, this will be a lounge and a dining room at each end of the L, with the kitchen in the corner, but any combination works just as well. If your room shape is not an L, a good idea is to use a corner sofa to define the limit of the space’s lounge. An L shaped sofa is the perfect way of making your seating area feel cosy, within the context of a larger rectangular room.

Color Coordination.

The use of color in an open plan living space should not be underestimated. You want distinct zones, yes, but try to avoid creating them with diverse color combinations in each area which will clash with one another.

Choose a neutral color for the base of the entire room. Use an accent color in the various zones to create more subtle variations. For instance, hot pink used in the upholstery of a dining area will coordinate well with rose pink that is applied in a lounge area. Alternatively, use a burnt orange tone for your sofa and reflect this with a breakfast bar in your kitchen, wall hung artwork and door paint.


Open plan living spaces do not need to be all on one level. There is nothing that creates a distinctive zone in a room, whilst maintaining open eye lines, than an area that is raised. Mezzanines and even platforms look great in open plan family rooms. If you want to create a library that is open plan to your living room/kitchen a good way to do it is with a mezzanine floor.

This is ideal if you want to keep an eye on the children at a distance while settling down with a good book. Equally, elevated dining areas can break up the floor space effectively. And, for houses that are set on plots that are not entirely flat, split level living spaces may be the only way to get an open plan living room at all.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

Published by in How To, Tips, and Advice, on August 2nd, 2013


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