Modern interior design has seen a rise in open plan living and open spaces have quickly become one of the most sought-after features for new homes. They are a great way to utilise small spaces effectively and enhance the look of any property. As well as the many benefits an open plan design can bring, there are also some drawbacks to be considered.
Before deciding if open plan living is for you, there are a few things that you should bear in mind. Our experts are sharing their construction advice and key things to know about open plan living;
Visualise The Walls
One piece of advice to consider which might sound unusual is to imagine where the walls might be. When you are designing your new open space and layout, consider where walls would usually be. This will force you to consider proper circulation, lighting, furniture placement and storage options. Placing your furniture in an open plan space can be more difficult than traditional rooms. Furniture cannot be positioned against walls, which is the norm in most rooms. As a result, you need to carefully consider where the furniture will be put to keep a good flow.
Zone Your Spaces
Open plan spaces often need to be broken up somehow to avoid looking too large and empty. Sometimes open plan designs can result in a vacuous cold feeling because of the large space, but this is can be avoided. Use room dividers such as breakfast bars and island units to break up the space. Not only do these make for handy extra storage, but they also keep two spaces separate.
Another way to effectively zone spaces is to construct partial walls. These can help to maintain a sense of flow in the room and can be built as high or wide as you like.
Storage units are also ideal for zoning open plan spaces while also fixing storage problems. Open plan designs often lack space for shelving and other storage because of a lack of walls. By placing shelving units on castors, you can create a flexible partitioning option as they can be rearranged and moved when needed.
To create a sense of homeliness while creating zones, central or free-standing stoves can be a good option. They can split up living areas, are a cosy addition and allow light to flow freely without being too obtrusive.
Think About Broken Plan
A broken plan is also often referred to as semi-open plan, and they involve incorporating closed off spaces within the open plan design. They are great for critical quiet zones such as home offices. Sliding doors or pocket doors can be used, so they glide away into cavities when you want the area to be open. However, they can be taken out and used for privacy when required. Glazed walls and doors can also be used to keep zones separate in a broken plan layout and still allow light to flow.
Vary Ceiling Levels
Split level layouts are a great way to zone open plan designs and use up vital space in small properties. Separating living spaces with a few steps can help to make relaxing areas stand out. Varying the levels of the ceiling by having a slightly lower ceiling in some zones can create a more intimate feeling.
Beams can be an excellent rustic feature that indicates a change of use between the various areas.
Simple interior design tricks such as different wall colours for different zones can be great for breaking up open plan rooms. If you have stark expanses of wall, then choosing slightly different colours or shades for each area is very effective. For example, painting a kitchen area of a kitchen-diner to be a bright bold colour, and then choosing a warmer tone for the dining space will set them apart beautifully. Flooring can also be used for visual dividers in an open place design.
When it comes to open plan designs, different lighting styles can create interest and character within the space. Kitchens should focus on task-based lighting, making sure lights are positioned to highlight work surfaces, the sink and the oven. In dining areas, low hanging lights can easily accentuate a dining table and break up the space. Consider using floor lamps and side lamps to add yet another level of lighting in living spaces. Spotlights inset into the floor are also a great way of creating a distinction between the different spaces.