Planning Open Plan Living Spaces

Planning Open Plan Living Spaces

We all dream of that large home like the magazines, plenty of space & light. But many of my clients with these new homes have found it difficult to decorate their living areas, as well as stopping their kids from running rampant through the wide open spaces inside. They also find that their dining sets tend to be floating in the middle of nowhere with no truly defined areas for the lounge or the coffee table. And where do you look?? Do you have sofas with your back to the kitchen, or make it communal?


The layout of the furniture in these open plan spaces tends to be the biggest issue. It is usually determined by three factors:

  • The views
  • The architecture
  • The flow

 IMG_2605Nancy Watson

View ~

Many people have designed their homes to take advantage of stunning views out the large windows. So this determines the best position of the furniture, with it usually facing the windows & the television all at the same time. This means that the sofas may have their backs to the kitchen & the dining spaces. Depending on the space, this can separate the living from the dining & kitchen.Mieke & Barry Dining Room

If there are no views out the window, then usually there is a feature in the room, such as a feature wall or the television. Let’s face it, we stare at the idiot box a lot in our technology-driven society, so we may as well design our lounge rooms around it. So with our sofas facing the TV, how do we make the room conversational as well? Consider adding a single armchair or two to the sofa arrangement. These can easily be swung around to make a conversational lounge space, & if they are in a bright or patterned fabric, they will grab the attention in the room, not the idiot box.


Architecture ~

The architectural layout of a home can severely dictate the size & configuration of the furniture you can add. Some open-planned living spaces leave long but narrow spaces for the living room & large square areas for the dining. If you are building from scratch, it can be best to plan out the size of the furniture you want in the rooms before the build begins. If you are moving into an existing home, you may need to consider altering your furniture to suit the space. And, luckily there are many store like Ikea that have narrow pieces that can be accommodated in all ways. You just may have to give up on the dream of the massive modular sofa. But decide what is important, if the television port is in the wrong spot, it may be more cost effective to have it moved rather than adapting your furniture to suit. Also be aware of glare from windows or lighting in the wrong positions. Emma 5

The Flow ~IMG_3039

This is the most important element of the layout.

Are you going to trip over the coffee table on the way to the dining area? Or is there a sofa in the way of the doors to outside? After you place your furniture in the rooms, walk around the room, from one point to another & use all the windows & cupboards to make sure everything works. Also think about how you live, do you come home from work, drop your keys on the entrance table & flop onto the couch? If so, keep these elements in alignment so that your life will work naturally on a day to day basis.


Keep your areas ‘mentally’ separated from each other. Make sure that the Dining Area looks like a dining space with complimenting furniture & items around it. Don’t add toys or computer accessories to the Dining Table as this will complicate the meaning & use. Likewise, don’t have Lounge Room accessories in the Kitchen. Decorate the areas with what you would expect to see in those spaces & keep the clutter to a minimum to avoid a confused vision of the areas.

kitchen area

But remember the most important thing which is that this is YOUR HOME.

Regardless of the orientation or layout you can always find a way to make it work for what you need. So move it around & make it yours, designed for you, however you choose to live.




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