An open living space can be a blessing or an intimidating design problem.
When rooms are more separated, the space is more defined and limiting in how you can take advantage of it. Those limits make choices simpler.
On the other hand, having more freedom to design an open living space that works for your aesthetic and functional needs can be fairly amazing.
Let’s make this less intimidating and more fun by breaking the process down with some simple design tips for a stunning open living room that will work for your needs.
How To Decide Where To Place The Furniture
This is the heart of the problem. You need to consider both aesthetics and function as you take this into consideration.
Decide where everything goes ahead of time.
If you don’t already have your furniture purchased, it’s preferable to plan this out before you buy your furniture.
There are living space apps you can map your room in or to make things more low-tech get yourself some grid paper. Measure out the room and then measure out the spaces you want to place the furniture. Put this in your map for the room carefully.
By becoming very clear on how you are arranging the furniture, you’ll avoid mistakes like buying a sofa that’s too large for the space and either having to start over or watch people bump into every day.
So how do you choose your furniture placement? Consider the following:
- Look at traffic flow. Where will people be walking? Give them 14 to 18 inches of space in any walkways, including the space between the coffee table and sofa.
- Pull furniture away from the walls. Putting your furniture against the walls is a common mistake! Even in a smaller space, your room will look wider if you keep the furniture spaced away from the walls.
- Consider the conversation areas. We’ll look more at defining spaces below, but to begin with, take a look at where people will be conversing. If this open area includes a dining space, you’ll want to mark that down. If you have a big room, you may break the sofas and chairs into a couple different conversation areas. Does your kitchen have a bar? Will you be needing bar stools so people can hang out there? By picturing how people will gather throughout the room, you’ll be able to start defining these spaces for yourself and then taking that functional need into your design choice.
How To Define the Spaces In Your Open Living Room
While you don’t want your space to lose the open feeling, you also don’t want it to be overwhelming. Each area is meant for a different usage. By visually breaking the space into its different areas, you’ll feel more at ease. People will understand where to go and what happens in each space.
Take Advantage of Area Rugs
You can use these in different ways to define a space.
One strategy is to use a large area rug that actually goes into multiple spaces. Then, use different colored furniture to separate the spaces. This creates a unified look while still defining them as separate. So if you have an area rug that covers both your living and dining space, your sofas and chairs would then be light colors while your dining table is made of dark wood.
Another strategy is to have a rug in one or both of these spaces, separating them. It’s best if the rugs are large enough for all of the furniture. If there isn’t enough space for the rug to go all the way to the back of your couch, you still want the front legs of your furniture to make it onto the carpet.
Use Color Wisely
This is a smart way to define the different spaces. Of course, you’ll also want to think about this if using an area rug.
Again, there are different strategies for how to make the most of this.
One strategy is to use different colors in the different spaces. Your kitchen counters are light, your dining furniture is dark, and your sofas are all earth tones.
Another strategy is to use the same color tone throughout the entire space, but to mix up the textures. If you want to bring your kitchen into this, you’ll likely use the tone of your kitchen counters or cabinets. You can bring this into your living room with some throw pillows of a similar shade but with a different design. Then in your dining area bring this color in with a table runner. These touches are subtle, but when used wisely, can visually unify a space while also defining them as separate.
Create Focal Points
Most people would like their guests to come in and head toward the living space. While the host may be spending some time in the kitchen, they don’t want their guests eyes to be dragged right to what’s happening while they are cooking.
A great focal point will attract the eye and also give you something to center your furniture around.
For combining aesthetics and function, an electric fireplace is an excellent solution. The space immediately feels homier. When guests see the electric fireplace turned on, they’ll understand they should sit near it. Luckily, installing an electric fireplace isn’t difficult, so you can get that cozy feeling. Bonus: No firewood to chop for maintenance.
In many open living spaces, you’ll want to only have one focal point. If you have a very large space and want to draw the eye to the dining area, a large piece of artwork can do the trick. You can then pull some of the colors from the artwork into the dining area to help define the space more and ground the artwork in the design.
Start Large and Then Narrow In
As you can see after reading these tips, they all come together. Take the central ideas of carefully planning and defining your spaces for aesthetic and functional purposes, then look at the smaller details to help you achieve the stunning open living space you’ll be excited to show off.