How to Make the Most of Your Home’s Open Plan Layout

How to Make the Most of Your Home’s Open-Plan Layout

Charmaine Kon by Charmaine Kon on Jun 17, 2017
Why you should care

Follow these steps to optimise your space without cluttering it.

The best part of an open-plan layout: the ability to design it any way you like. The worst part? The dilemma of designing it any way you like.

These 5-step guide will help you to plan mini zones within a larger space that can be enjoyed individually while looking cohesive.

1 Get a Lay of the Land

At first glance, it might seem like anything goes in your open-plan space, but it isn’t always the case. Note the location of the entryways and things like electric plug points, plumbing, gas, and sewage lines. These will narrow down your options for placing the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

There are 3 types of layouts in general: L-shape, square, and linear. With L-shape designs, you’ll know to allocate a zone for all the 3 points of the ‘L’. Allocate the most tucked away area for the kitchen, as the smells and noise that come from cooking can be disruptive for the common areas: living and dining rooms.

In square-shape rooms, divide the room in half and allocate the 2 smaller zones to 1 half of the room, and the bigger room to the other half of the room. If your family loves watching movies together, then choose the bigger zone for the living room; if you love having guests over for dinner parties, then the dining room might have to be the biggest zone.

Linear rooms line up the zones lengthwise. This means, for example, a kitchen, dining room, and living room that sit in 1 row.

2 Determine Zones and Orientation

Once you’ve determined where each zone should be, then it’s time to look at how you would use them. It’s important to allow easy access between the dining and kitchen zones, as you’ll be carrying hot foods across those rooms, you wouldn’t want to walk across the expanse of the entire floor while doing that. As you can see in this design, the dining room and kitchen are next to each other.

To further cordon off the kitchen away from the common areas, build a large glass sliding door. The door allows privacy while the see-through glass keeps the area looking open and airy.

Make use of the outdoor view by orienting your furniture towards the outdoors. This keeps the space looking even more spacious. Plus, if you have a neatly landscaped outdoors or a great view from a high-rise building, it’s going to add to the aesthetics of your space.

See that this L-shaped couch does not block the view of the outdoors. Even those sitting at the dining area can enjoy the view.

This open-plan layout strategically orients the living, dining, and kitchen zones near ceiling-to-floor windows that highlight the high ceiling, and hence spaciousness of the area. With larger windows and views of the outside, daylight can easily stream in, making the space feel bigger and more welcoming.

3 Group Your Funiture

Now that you know what goes where and in which orientation, it’s time to group your furniture pieces. Living zones should have coffee tables, seating, and side tables, while foyers should have a console table and a mirror – you get the idea.

For better planning of how much space a zone, its furniture pieces, and their movements (e.g. opening of drawers) take, cut up pieces of newspaper or mahjong paper to represent furniture floor space. Then lay them out for better visualisation.

4 Plan for Traffic and Circulation

A common mistake with planning an open layout is not leaving enough space between zones for foot traffic or the movement of furniture pieces: whether it’s the open door of a cabinet or the ability to pull a dining chair away from the table. The best way to do this is to imagine walls in between those areas.

If you want a clear delineation between zones but want to keep the space open, then consider partial partitions.

5 Keep Them Separate but in Sync

Stick to neutrals when decorating and furnishing an open space. Accent pieces and patterns can highlight a certain zone without having it stick out like a sore thumb. Use repeated textures and materials between zones to keep the space cohesive.

Since you’ll share the same flooring, get advice from an interior designer on a hardy flooring that will work for a kitchen, and is just as presentable for the living area. Rugs are a good way to draw separation between zones.

Why you should care

Follow these steps to optimise your space without cluttering it.

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