Open Concept Design Tips

Open Concept SoHo Loft with Elevated sitting roomsecond view of SoHo open concept loftImages via Twisted Sifter

Whether it’s modern condo spaces, new build homes, or renovations to character houses, open concept seems to be the layout du jour.   As someone with an open concept apartment I can attest to the improvement to the flow of our home and yes, I’d go as far as to say life generally.  Being able to cook, do laundry or eke out some work time while also ensuring the kid is safe is a massive time saver.  And when we entertain we are always falling behind schedule, so to be able to visit with our guests while they enjoy a drink and we finish up (or invite them in on the cooking action) makes us look like casual fun people rather than time-sucking jerks who can’t get our act together. I know all the latest research is saying multitasking will be the downfall of us all, but honestly can I get a Hip-Hip Hooray for the open concept plan.

Open concept living, dining and kitchen areaImage via House and Home

The question that comes up is how to decorate this space; how to use the most of the sometimes meager square-footage we’ve got.  So here is a list of tips and tricks from the design experts:

Colour Scheme

accent wallImage from Deviant Art via Pinterest

Colourful accent wall in open concept spaceImage via Interior Home

For open concept spaces one big room means one big look.  Obviously the same wall colour in your open concept kitchen and living/dining area will go a long way to creating a cohesive space.  But don’t feel tied to this as a hard and fast rule.  Choosing various tones of the same neutral colour can help to divide a space while keeping the cohesion.  Accent walls can also be dazzling in open concept spaces to punch up interest and define one space from another.  If you’ve got trim – baseboards, mouldings-  throughout the space, do keep this the same colour. And while we’re at it, it may seem like one of those no-brainers, but before you settle on your paint colour follow the wall to its end.  In some open concept homes a wall can extend through an entire floor or across multiple floors.  Be sure your colour will work in what might be a very different part of the home, with different lighting and mood.

Furniture Layout

Bookcase room dividerImage via Homestilo

Both layout and the furniture you choose for an open concept space are key.  Layout will help set one space apart from another and defines your space’s flow. What you choose may need to do double duty so look for pieces that are finished on both sides. Open book shelves and step chests are wonderful room dividers that also provide much needed storage.

Big Burl Step Chest divides a spaceImage via Greentea Design

You’ll want to make sure your furniture is sized appropriate to your space.  For smaller footprint condos, smaller sized furniture won’t take over your space.  In grand lofts with soaring ceilings, don’t be afraid to go big like the step chest pictured above.


area rug in open concept living-dining areaimage via Morgan Design Inc

Generally the flooring will be the same throughout an open concept space. It’s area rugs that will become important.  Rugs can help divide up a space by holding a grouping of furniture together.  If you’ve also chosen one wall colour throughout your space, a pretty area rug will add loads of visual interest.  Just don’t go wild with rugs, especially in smaller spaces, where you’ll end up cluttering up and shrinking your room if you’re placing them in the entry way, living area and dining room.  Choose one area and lay a special standout rug.


Mizuya Pantry - the Konoha

Mizuya Pantry in the living roomImages via Greentea Design

The last thing to keep in mind is that what’s glorious about an open concept space can also be a bane.  Mess and clutter feels magnified, inescapable.  Having some closed door storage is a good option for those who can’t live a minimalist life.  Choosing a good transitionary piece of furniture will bridge spaces well.  These Mizuya Pantries can function as a hutch and pantry in the intermediary space between the kitchen and dining area.   They also work just as beautifully in other areas of the house too.

Happy decorating everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>