01 Oct 2018 By Annie Doherty

Open Plan Homes with House Doctor

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is about new builds having open floor plans with a combined kitchen, living and dining area.

What’s the best way to furnish and decorate this kind of layout?

Even though the whole area is open plan, start by mentally dividing it into zones where different activities take place. Look at the natural architecture, the ceiling, the floor, any beams and windows to help establish where each activity zone starts and ends.

Your furniture should be firmly placed within each zone and you should have clear walk through areas around it. When buying furniture for an open space it is important that the style of furniture is the same so that the look is cohesive; ranges of furniture from the same manufacturer or retailer are useful sources.

Carefully select any furniture paying attention to the layout. Be aware of furniture pieces which will be placed adjacent to each other, for example, avoid putting a table in the kitchen next to an opening which leads to the dining table. Movements from lower seating furniture to higher dining furniture will be more interesting visually.

You can also define the zones by a change in flooring. This could be the introduction of a rug in the dining area, or a change from hard flooring in the kitchen to carpet in the living zone.

In open plan spaces there are often no natural start and end points to change paint colours to define the different zones and having all the walls through-out the same colour will maximize the space. You can add interest by creating a feature wall in a bolder colour or wallpaper to change the mood, or use alcoves in a similar way to add variety.

For your colour scheme use the same 3 or 4 colours throughout but with different emphasis in each zone. So, for example, black in the worktop could be a large colour in your kitchen but in the adjoining zone only evident in a few small accessories. Avoid using too many colours or you could spoil clean lines and the result can be cluttered.


In a similar way to the colours choose 3 or 4 co-coordinating fabrics to work across the entire space for curtains, blinds, sofa cushions, seat pads, table runner etc. These fabrics should use the colours chosen and can be a mix of plains, stripes, checks or florals provided they are similar in style and co-ordinate well together.

In a large space it is important that not only is your furniture the right size but the accessories are to scale. Make sure pictures are large enough to be seen from the entrance to the area and that you have some large accessories such as a vase and flowers or candle lanterns which won’t look too small from the other end of the space. Use your chosen colours in the accessories to pull the look together.

Ensure that there is adequate ambient lighting in each zone so when the main overhead lights are off you are able to create a pleasant feel with a mixture of table lamps, floor lamps, under counter lighting, or plinth lighting in the kitchen kick board.

Assess your space from different angles and look at the lines of sight across the zones. Whilst it isn’t always possible to have a focal point in every zone make sure than something pleasing attracts the eye from where ever you stand. This could be a sofa with pictures above and side tables with lamps, or a dining table dressed with runner and centrepiece, or in your kitchen a carefully positioned clock.




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