Make Your Open Floor Plan Functional and Sophisticated—By Design
So you’re ready to move into your new home and a most amazing open floor layout. Before you decide on color schemes, interior décor, and furniture, here are a few tips to make the floor plan more polished, appealing, and above all, comfortable.
1. Minimize the Clutter
Remember to visualize the overall space and sketch a diagram of where you want to position everything. This will create clean and comfortable lines.
In this uncluttered space of a 2-story Country style home with a delightfully laid out open floor/Great Room design, the kitchen-dining-living areas merge seamlessly together for maximum interaction among family members (Plan #126-1287).
2. Toss Out Heavy, Oversize Furniture
The idea is to have free-flowing movement around the Great Room area, where family and friends can walk back and forth with ease. If sofas, chairs, and sectionals are bulky and overstuffed, the traffic pattern can be a bit congested and tight. Choose furniture that gives the social areas a comfortable, homey feel and not a gridlock.
Take a look at the sofa and chairs in this well-appointed open floor layout of a 2-story, 5-bedroom country home. Made for comfort and relaxation, it is easy to get in and out of the living area (top) and to move to the breakfast-nook-eat-in-kitchen area (bottom) to reach the sunroom (Plan #161-1030).
3. Pay Attention to Arrangement
Speaking of furniture, remember to keep a balance in your floor arrangement to maintain that smooth and easy flow. Do not stack furniture on one side of the space, and try to position pieces some distance from the walls.
This elegant Great Room becomes more attractive through its furniture arrangement – with the couch and chairs positioned away from walls. And check out the area rug that separates the living room from the dining room (Plan #161-1022).
4. Integrate Color Schemes
Remember that this is your space, and you have to live in it! So choose colors that you like – and make sense for the home. Red may be your favorite, for instance, but it may work better as an accent color than as a color for the walls.
Beige-cream hues can be mixed with light browns for a warm and cozy feel. Use darker tones for the ceiling and built-in cabinets/storage spaces, lighter hues for walls, and perhaps a combination of colors for corners, columns, windows, and doors.
Throw in splashes of color as part of the interior décor – patterned cushions, side and coffee tables, flower arrangements in oranges/yellows/reds, and pillows in bright complementary shades and tones.
Here’s a color scheme that is clean, warm, and cozy: bluish gray for the ceiling, beige walls, an orange backsplash, flower arrangement in orange, a glimpse of a painting in orange tones. The cabinets, leather couch, and kitchen island-snack bar are in solid dark brown, and patterned cushions give some visual relief (Plan #153-1808).
Check out the contrasting shades and color accents in the open floor plan of this 2-story, 3-bedroom Farmhouse style home: taupe on the ceiling and walls, a hint of pink on the trimwork, a creamy-pink mix on the windows, and a beige sofa made colorful by the red cushions. In the kitchen, note the white and light brown built-in kitchen cabinets (Plan #165-1090).
5. Use That “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…”
Strategically placed mirrors enhance the light filtering into the rooms, open up the space more, and make for better ambiance. You can create your signature interior décor with mirrors. With their different shapes and sizes, mirrors are wonderful as wall accents – singly or grouped together. Position them above the fireplace mantel, in the foyer area, on dining-living room walls, and in hallways, entryways, staircases, and bathrooms, of course.
Top: Mirrors can be used to make a statement in a room. The large mirror in the family room at top reflects the abundant light from the windows and calls attention to itself almost like a painting (Plan #106-1189). Bottom:The Art Deco geometric mirror in the room at bottom echoes the wall art on the adjacent wall (Plan #153-1781).
Top: A tall, wide mirror adds to the picture-perfect design of the master bath in this elegant ranch house plan. Bottom: Instead of looking at a bare wall when people go down the stairs, they can admire this intricately patterned narrow mirror that adorns the space (Plan #101-1336).
6. Try for windows (and lots of them!)
In addition to high ceilings and mirrors, windows enhance the natural light that streams into the home. Whether the windows in your home are tall, thin, wide, narrow, or small, when positioned correctly they allow clear views of the outdoors and increase the indoor-outdoor relationship. These house plan features can really make a big impact on the look and feel of the home.
Out with heavy drapes for a bright and airy feel. Go for blinds or curtains made of lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, sheer crepe, or synthetic silk. These are more appealing and attractive options that also provide privacy.
Front (top) and rear (bottom) views of this 2-story, 4-bedroom shingle-style house showcase windows in all shapes and designs that allow natural sunlight to steam into the home (Plan #161-1038).
Here’s an inside view of the beautifully constructed small-pane windows that fill the home (Plan #161-1038)
7. Widen Doorways, Entryways between Rooms
Even with open floor plans, there are instances when homeowners decide to expand entryways to adjoining areas like the breakfast nook/pantry or the kitchen-living room – or other combinations. With wider passageways, there is a better flow from one room to the next, not to mention a sunny, breezy atmosphere.
With its high ceilings and windows, this 2-story, 4-bedroom French-style home gets an abundance of natural light. The arched entryway to the breakfast nook-pantry area adds to the bright and sunny look (Plan #161-1007)
Imagine the smooth flow of traffic between the dining area and the kitchen with this expansive entrance (Plan #153-1781)
8. Look for Nonstructural Walls That Can Be Removed
So, do you think your home has enough open space? If you want to make it even more open, you will have to take down walls. Make certain that you consult an engineer to get help in targeting walls that can be removed and those that bear part of the structural weight of your home – and must remain.
You can’t take down this wall (below the landing), but it can be widened a bit more to allow a better view of the kitchen through the wall cutout in this 2-story Prairie style home. There's enough space in the hallway for family and friends as they walk to and from the area (Plan #149-1452).
Get ready with your sketches and tools as you take on this exciting project to make your home’s open floor design appealing and polished!
Footnote: The lead image in this article is from a modern 1-story, 2-bedroom house plan. For more details on Plan #149-1837, click here.