Design Inspo

Open Concept Kitchen Living Room Ideas

Is your open concept floor plan working for you? Check out how to make your space comfortable and inviting for the whole family.

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Floor plans in interior design are about balancing privacy, functionality, and comfort. Open floor plans have been around since the 1950s and are popular for many reasons (think about the ease of entertaining friends in an open space!).

Still, there are a few challenges for renters and homeowners with this type of layout. The good news is that Spoak can help you every step of the way when it comes to maximizing any open-concept space by rearranging furniture, adjusting heating/cooling systems, and picking wall colors and floor types.

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Clever Open Concept Design Ideas: Make the Most of Your Space

Think About Flow and Furniture

When arranging furniture, it’s important to consider the flow of traffic and how to manage boundaries through the intentional spacing between area types. To put this into perspective, try to imagine how a river would flow through your great room. If the furniture obstructs this river’s path, adjust the seating and storage accordingly to maintain necessary walking paths throughout the main living areas. 

Furniture should be an asset in your home. For instance, a well-placed L-shaped sectional can separate a casual hang-out space from a formal dining room. Open shelving can divide one huge room while still allowing both spaces to benefit from unencumbered light and air. 

We simply can’t mention open floor plan kitchens without talking about islands. Kitchen islands are more in demand than ever before. They serve as breakfast countertops, prep zones, and storage solutions — they truly do it all!

A kitchen island can also help set up a barrier between living and cooking zones. Installing a kitchen island with seating facing the living room and with the sink or appliance side facing the oven/fridge area creates a sense of order. If you can’t commit to one island location, invest in one with wheels to adjust the space flow as needed. 

Incorporate Temporary Room Dividers

Closed-floor plan homes have long, extensive networks of hallways — one feature you’re not likely to find in an open floor plan. These walls can easily make a home feel claustrophobic and smaller than they actually are. People don’t want to feel confined or restricted, and the open concept allows for more freedom of movement.

However, one of the challenges of the open concept is figuring out the layout and function of each area, whether it be the dining space, entryway, or kitchen. To help create a sense of separation between spaces, temporary dividers are a fantastic choice. Unlike built-in shelving units, these room dividers can be slid into a closet or pushed against a wall.

For example, you can try shoji screens. A charming feature in Japanese decor, these screens allow light to pass through spaces while still maintaining a degree of privacy. You can prop open the foldable panels when needed. When you want to enjoy the full space, slide the divider directly against the wall as it transforms from a practical feature to a stunning design accent. 

Select Window Treatments Carefully

When walking into an open concept home, visitors are often struck by the gorgeous natural light that washes over the space. Large windows throughout the house plan, from the home office to the open plan kitchen, can make space feel warm and inviting but present a new need — window treatments. 

Curtains and other window coverings are rarely, if ever, a one-size-fits-all solution, and the same goes for open concept space. However, some simple guidelines might help:

  • Window treatments should be easily moveable so that they can be flung open, welcoming in sunset’s golden hour. 
  • To insulate drafty open spaces, thermal-backed curtains can help protect you from the incoming chill and prevent your furniture from the fading effects of the sun’s UV rays. 
  • Curtains should be cohesive, but the curtains in the dining area do not need to match those in the living zone. Still, opt for similar fabrics or shades to create a sense of flow.
  • Vertical stripes can make your ceilings appear even taller — perfect for a dramatic statement (and who doesn’t love a little drama?). 

Focus on Natural Heating and Cooling Solutions

Keeping open houses cool can pose a problem due to the much larger area that has to be maintained. With a few helpful decorating and design tricks, though, future you will be just fine with an open floor plan. 

One way to keep your home cooler is to have large windows that mirror each other from across the great room. Keeping the windows cracked or open in the summer months allows air to flow freely through the space and keeps it cool without using too much air conditioning.

To stay warm, we can look to the Middle Ages for inspiration. Ye olde interior decorators would hang tapestries on castle walls to insulate the space. Tapestries are still part of modern wall decor, but we can double up and go from floor to ceiling with area rugs. Area rugs are an easy way to warm up a great room for the colder months, integrating into your existing decor with unique colors and designs.

To keep your open floor plan home warmer in the future, we again look to the past. Add a wood-burning stove (or a gas one) to a high-traffic area like the living room. 

Fireplaces are a classic focal point, and people tend to design the home around them. However, sometimes in open floor plan homes, the fireplace is placed not against a central wall but a corner. In that case, center the furniture toward the fireplace, with two large loveseats facing the heat source. 

If your fireplace fails to provide an open floor plan with the warmth you desire, invest in radiant heat. Radiant heat is more environmentally friendly than other heating options, especially for homes with high or vaulted ceilings. Radiant heating pipes (like cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes) can keep your floors and walls warmer during those cooler months. 

Be Intentional With Wall Colors

A bright and airy open concept kitchen + living room designed by Karsyn DuPree in Spoak

Typically, bright and neutral walls make a space feel larger and more vibrant, especially for smaller spaces. However, if you have a particularly large great room, don’t be afraid to feature an accent wall with a darker paint color like sage green or charcoal. 

A dark accent wall, complemented by lighter walls, can serve as a way to define a space for something specific, like a wine bar or reading nook. It's great to have large areas for open gatherings, but you may want to figure out where you can have divided “zones” to create a cozier feel.

Stick to One Flooring Type

One type of flooring that runs through the entire home results in a more cohesive appearance and makes the space feel even larger than it really is. Different flooring materials for specific areas, like the kitchen, can make sense under some circumstances, but sometimes this can result in the space feeling segmented. 

Another downside to mismatched flooring is that it can restrict the configuration possibilities by creating visual barriers that would look odd if cut into with furniture. 

Room Ideas: Furnishings and Home Decor

To help define zones further, deploy the concept of floating furniture (and no, it’s not actually floating) — basically, don’t put all of your furniture against the walls. The only exception to the floating concept may be your sofa, but even then, try not to place any furniture against the walls other than pieces like sideboards and end tables. 

If you can float your sofa, add a console table to avoid greeting incoming guests with just the back of your statement seating. Consoles are a simple way to help define areas and their functionality. If you’re wondering how much room you need for traffic to flow smoothly between furnishings, the general guideline is about three feet of space between things. 

Choose floor rugs that contrast the furniture for a more refined and interesting look. Variety is the name of the game with furniture; avoid matchy-matchy style pieces. An excess of matching furniture can appear visually uninteresting in an open concept living room. 

Instead, opt for chairs and sofas with complementary patterns, colors, and materials. (And if you need some help with combining all three, check out this course.) For example, perhaps all your seating is velvet but in different shades. Or maybe your sofa is a classic floral that plays nicely with striped wallpaper. Whatever patterns you choose, choose them with confidence!

How To Design and Decorate a Modern Floor Plan

Use an Interior Design Visualization Tool 

Picture this: You’re at that exciting life stage where you’re searching for a new home to buy. The home you’re touring has an open floor plan but isn’t staged with furniture. It can be tricky to visualize what certain areas could look like based on the initial room layout.

This situation is an opportunity for creativity disguised as a problem; the entire living space can be anything you want. Closed floor plans restrict what purposes the rooms can serve and impact furnishings like dining tables or kitchen islands. As a result, your decorating ideas are restricted as well. This isn’t the case with open concept floor plans!

Spoak has incredible tools for virtually designing almost any space. With a simple click (or two), you can add and rearrange furniture in a custom layout without begging your best friend to help you do it manually. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Once you have your layout squared away, you can test out everything from decor and paint colors to potential gallery wall set-ups to bring meaning to a blank canvas. 

Is the Open Concept Here To Stay?

Although the open floor plan concept has been around for the last few decades, we could possibly be seeing a downward trend in its popularity in the future. It’s more challenging to maintain the temperature of large and open areas than smaller ones.

However, there will always be people who champion the open floor plan. Large and open spaces filled with natural lighting, laughter, and good conversations floating freely throughout are sure to impress. 

Photo Credit: (Left) Domino


Open Floor Plan: History, Pros and Cons | The Spruce

The Use and Function of Tapestries | The Art Institute of Chicago

Why Floating Furniture is Actually Smarter in Small Rooms | Architectural Digest

Family Room vs. Living Room: Where the Differences Lie | LoveToKnow

How to Mix Patterns in a Room | The Spruce

How to Heat an Open Floor Plan | The Spruce

To start designing your open concept floor plan, join Spoak to gain access to intuitive online design tools.

Date Posted
April 24, 2023



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