Many Aussie homeowners still live in homes with an open-plan format that doesn’t seem right. Their ultimate design dilemma? They live in a house with an awkward flow and interiors that lack focus and cohesion due to a limiting building design. In this article, we’ll give you open plan living ideas whatever the shape of your home is.
Advantages of open-plan homes
- Better mobility – an open-plan home allows family members to move around quickly because there are no partitions or dividers to hinder mobility.
- Brighter environment – an open plan building design is usually brighter because the light from the windows in one area freely flows into another area.
- Improved communication – an open-plan home promotes togetherness because you are always within sight of other family members. The lack of partitions also allows sound to travel easily and makes communicating easier. If you have small children, it is easier to keep an eye on them even if you are in the kitchen and they are in the living room.
- Great for socialising – if you love hosting parties, you’ll love an open-plan home because it is easier to move around and entertain guests. Your guests can also mingle freely with others because there’s nothing to block their view.
Disadvantages of open-plan homes
- High utility cost– an open-plan home requires more energy to heat or cool because you’re controlling the temperature of several rooms at once.
- Lack of privacy – the lack of partitions means that you are always in sight of other family members, which means sacrificing privacy. It can also be more difficult to hold private conversations because family members in another part of the house can easily overhear you.
- Smells travel – cooking smells can easily travel to other parts of the house because no walls separate the kitchen from other rooms.
Still not sure about having an open-plan living room? Check out our Inspiration Gallery to find more open-plan home designs to inspire you.
How to design an open-plan living room
Designing open-plan living rooms is tricky. There is no formula that works for all, regardless of their room’s shape and size. You need to plan your space well. Decide what features to add or remove. Plot where your furniture will go. Work these things out in the beginning and you’ll avoid an unergonomic home .
To help you plan your open-plan space better, check out these solid open plan living ideas:
How to divide a long, rectangular room…
- Leave at least 800mm (2.62ft) of space between two areas. It helps separate the living, dining, and kitchen zones.
- Lay an oversized rug properly under the living or dining areas. This trick improves the look of each zone.
- Never station the TV across a window. It will be impossible to watch the TV without blocking the light coming in. Place it on a side where it can dominate, but don’t let it orient the entire area.
- Create a connection between the areas by repeating design elements. Use lovely patterns, colours, and textures.
- For a more ergonomic layout, connect the kitchen and dining spaces. If your space permits, consider pushing the dining table against the bench.
- Station the sink or range on your island, so you face towards the living area when using it. This makes your kitchen more sociable.
- Use plants to decorate the area next to your outdoor space. Greenery will blur the boundaries between your indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Declutter. Get rid of the things that you don’t need. You can donate your extra stuff to charity. You can also sell the old yet reliable goods you found in a yard sale.
- Use a long couch with two or more stuffed chairs. Arrange the seats in the living area in an intimate and inviting way.
Superdraft tip: The key to achieving a welcoming and cosy space is to negate the tunnel effect and keep the space balanced.
How to divide a square-shaped room…
- There’s no other way but to divide it in half. We recommend that you combine the kitchen and dining in one and the living room on the other. Squeeze in a tiny home office beside the living area if you want.
- Give equal attention to the living area and the kitchen. Both areas must feel open.
- A spacious square room can accommodate a wider kitchen bench. Feel free to build yours up to 1000mm (standard is 600mm).
- While movement in design can excite the interiors, we don’t recommend a lot of it in a square room. You only need a few to keep the interiors interesting. Tame down the repetitive elements, patterns, colours, and shapes. Only level items on different heights when needed. Too much movement in a small and angular room will make the space cramped, busy, loud, and chaotic.
- Use joinery to establish an area. Apply similar wood components throughout the room to tie all areas together.
- Use an L-shaped or a modular sofa in the living room. If your space can’t accommodate it, a single couch will do.
How to divide an L-shaped room…
- Planning an L-shaped room is easier compared to the other room shapes as it has defined areas. You can create a seamless kitchen-dining and living-dining room. All you need to do is maintain a gap at least 1000mm (3.28ft) down the thoroughfare that splits the L.
- Ensure a smooth indoor-outdoor connection in the section next to the backyard.
- Place your kitchen on one end of the room so you can open it up and allow the breeze to cool it.
- Use durable flooring materials. You want a floor that can survive the heat, snow, wet, and dirty foot traffic for a long period of time.
- Always face your furniture towards a door or window with a beautiful outdoor view. This way, you incorporate your outdoor space and surroundings with the interior design.
How to utilise corners
One of the challenges of an open-layout home is having underutilised corners because most furniture is concentrated in the middle of the room. What happens is you have corners that look empty and it is up to you to fill these empty spaces to fully utilise them. Here are some open plan living ideas you can use to put these corners to use:
- Build a bookcase or display shelf – a bookshelf is a perfect way to utilise a corner because the different books can help add colour to a room. If you’re not fond of books, you can construct a display shelf to showcase family pictures or souvenirs that make excellent conversation starters.
- Utensil storage – if the empty corner is in your kitchen area, then you can use it by building a storage space for utensils or dishware.
- Mini-bar – adding a mini-bar is an excellent option if you love entertaining guests. It can also be ideal if you love having a nightcap after a long day at work.
- Study or work area – a corner in your living room is an excellent place to build a small study or work area. You can keep an eye on your children while working or monitor them while they do their homework.
- Custom built-ins – working with a home design expert can help you develop open plan living ideas to help you maximise corners. For example, you can use custom-built furniture that fits right into corners, like a custom triangular TV rack that lets you watch your favourite shows or custom built-in cabinets or shelves to increase your storage options.
Talk to one of Superdraft’s project consultants that can help you seamlessly create your open-plan living space. Our project consultants can help you get a free quote from Australia’s best designers to date.
Open-plan zoning ideas
Although an open-layout home promotes continuity, having a means of subtly designating different zones can help you prevent one area from spilling into another. This is critical in helping you plan your home because you have a better idea of the amount of space you can use for a particular zone. Here are some simple open plan living ideas to help you zone your home:
- Different flooring materials – you can use different flooring materials to separate the different areas of your home subtly. You can use hardwood planks for your living room while utilising waterproofed tiles or natural stone for your kitchen.
- Use rugs – this is one of the more affordable open plan living ideas you can explore if replacing your existing floor is too expensive. You can use distinct rugs on different areas of your home as indicators of different zones.
- Play with lighting – different lighting fixtures can help you separate different zones in your home, like using brighter lights in the kitchen to assist in cooking while leveraging warm lighting in the living room to promote relaxation.
How can Superdraft help you?
Although you can utilise multiple open plan living ideas, your building design can limit your options, and Superdraft can help you expand them. Superdraft can connect you to designers who can provide you with design ideas you might not have thought of so you can make the most out of your open-plan home.
What’s great about working with Superdraft is it matches you to a design professional to help you come up with a design that suits your lifestyle. Designers can also help you develop a suitable building design if you want to remodel or expand your home if it’s becoming too small for your growing family.
If you want to know how you can improve your home, Superdraft can provide you with a free quote so you can start transforming how your family lives.