Open floor plans add flexibility to any home. In a traditional closed floor plan, rooms are divided by walls and doorways. Each room gets its own pocket of privacy, making it easy to compartmentalize different spaces in the home. But in an open floor plan, walls and doorways come down, allowing rooms to blur together. Your kitchen can double as a dining room—and triple as a living room. And that flexibility makes it easy to do a lot of things at once.
“Open-concept living allows for seamless entertaining—pour a glass of wine, check the sauce simmering on the range, and prep appetizers, all while … communicating with family members or guests,” Deborah Costa, interior designer and co-founder of Design Alchemy, says. “Open-concept floor plans grow the heart of the home, combining the cooking and relaxation zones into one.”
By inviting you to multitask, open floor plans make life easier. But decorating them can be a challenge. Without walls to guide you, how are you supposed to lay out your furniture? And how on earth do you decide which rooms to combine?
“When decorating an open floor plan, planning is the first and most important step,” Jenna Schumacher, principal designer at Insert Design, says. “Without defined ‘rooms’ to dictate use, you will need to develop a coordinated layout that maximizes function, balances scale of pieces, and celebrates interconnection.”
That might sound like a tall order. But the right inspiration can make it much easier. So to help you deck out your open floor plan with care and ease, we’ve asked six interior designers to share their very best open floor plan design ideas.
Pair Your Kitchen With a Lounge Space
When laying out an open floor plan, it’s tough to decide which rooms to combine. One popular option? Pair your kitchen with your living room. “Kitchens are the epicenter of the home,” Costa says. “No longer do people sequester themselves to cook. They want to be in tune with what’s going on in the living area.”
Plus, a bigger hosting space means a less crowded kitchen. “A family room or sitting space that is open to the kitchen gives you an opportunity to spread out,” Emily Davis, principal designer at Emily Davis Interiors, says.
Open Up Your Entryway
Set the scene in your open-concept home by opening up your entryway. “Having an entryway be open to the dining room and living room provides an immediate sense of flow to a home,” Davis says.
Use Rugs to Create Different Zones
Without walls, how can you delineate where one space ends and another begins? Easy. “Use rugs to create different zones in the space,” Catherine Staples, founding designer of Aspen & Ivy, says.
And Kristine Renee, interior designer and co-founder of Design Alchemy, agrees: “A rug under the coffee table in the common lounge area—or under the table in the dining space—works well to delineate specific areas.”
Put a Computer Nook in Your Kitchen
The great thing about open floor plans is that you can customize them to meet your needs. So, if you’ve been working from the kitchen or dining room, treat yourself to an official workspace.
“More and more, we are incorporating computer zones in open alcoves directly off the kitchen,” Renee says. “These spaces are great areas for adults to access their computers or kids to work on homework without cluttering kitchen counters or dining tables.”
Snag a Classic Room Divider
One no-fail way to separate two spaces in your open floor plan? Snag a room divider. Score something that’s pretty enough to double as décor, and if you want to keep the spaces feeling connected, you can opt for a room divider that’s short enough to peer over—or slatted enough to see through.
Segment Your Space With a Statement Ceiling
Statement ceilings aren’t just a fun way to dress up your space—they’re also great for segmenting spaces in your open floor plan. “A coffered ceiling can give a little separation to the spaces, defining them without structurally separating the rooms,” Staples says.
By lining your dining room ceiling with wood beams and leaving your kitchen ceiling bare, you can make the spaces feel separate, even though they’re connected.
Attach a Game Room to Your Living Room
Upgrade your living room by letting it expand into a game room, a playroom, or some other entertaining space. “We love to blend a family room with comfortable seating and enclosed storage for toys and games,” Erin Coren, principal designer at Curated Nest, says.
Create Boundaries With Storage Furniture
If you want to make a room feel more private without fully closing it off, use storage furniture to get the job done. “Enclosed storage solutions, such as sideboards and etageres, can break up the zones in an open floor plan,” Coren says.
Stock Up on Different Seating Spaces
Why limit yourself to just one seating area? With an open floor plan, you can create a range of lounges—giving houseguests plenty of space to mix and mingle.
“Forgo a formal living set-up, and center the room around conversation,” Costa says. “Think of the space as a hotel lounge or lobby, and create different moments and opportunities to gather.”
Think of the space as a hotel lounge or lobby, and create different moments and opportunities to gather.
Blend Your Dining Room With Your Living Room
Pairing a kitchen with a living room is a popular pick—but pairing your dining room with your living room is another great option.
“We like the flow of living rooms and dining rooms together,” Coren says. “We have been opening up living room walls into dining rooms because it allows for a more fluid traffic flow—one where drinks lead into dinner.”
Take Advantage of Different Levels
In any open floor plan, stairs are your friend. Why? The different levels make it easy to segment your space into smaller nooks, while letting you enjoy the flexibility of a wall-free interior.
Add Intimacy With a Cased Opening
Want to capture some of the privacy of a closed floor plan—without putting up any walls? Take advantage of cased openings, like open doorways and archways.
“A cased opening can work wonders for creating visual separation between spaces,” Davis says. “Having wider cased openings allows a sense of connection without true opening, so there is separation without sacrificing flow.”
Treat Yourself to Two Hosting Areas
As you lay out your open floor plan, remember that you’re in charge of what rooms exist in your home. So if you want a kitchen and a home bar, make space for both. “Our clients love to have a separate beverage area included in their open-concept plan,” Costa says.
If a home bar isn’t your thing, make space for whatever is. Add a wine room for wine lovers or a library nook in the family room for book lovers, Staples suggests.
Switch Your Lighting From Space to Space
Lighting can be a great way to create flow and separation in an open floor plan. The key is to switch up your lighting from nook to nook—while keeping the whole set-up cohesive.
“Make sure the lighting you select works together, yet has its own identity,” Coren says. “This will allow for a nice flow aesthetically while allowing each piece to have its own moment.”
Create a Three-in-One Room
One classic way to lay out your open floor plan? Combine three rooms into one. “Our clients love combining a common lounge space, eating area, and kitchen to allow for an uninterrupted flow of daily living activities,” Renee says.
By putting your kitchen, dining room, and living room in the same place, you can host more seamlessly—never missing a beat.
Use Your Staircase as a Boundary
If your staircase isn’t tucked away in a corner, it’s probably well-positioned to serve as a boundary in your space. Take advantage of your staircase, and treat it like a partial wall. Use it to segment different spaces in your floor plan without separating them entirely.
Sneak a Sideboard Behind Your Sofa
One designer-approved way to create separation in a combined kitchen and living room? Slide in a sideboard. “To break up the long line of a sofa back, we place sideboards behind the sofa,” Coren says. “This breaks up the line of sight, adds interest and texture, and adds storage.”
Put a Dining Room in Your Kitchen
No home is complete without somewhere to eat, and if you don’t want to dedicate a whole room to your dining table, you can at least make space for it in your kitchen. “Entertaining is no longer a formal affair, so some people choose to not have a formal dining room in their home,” Staples says. “This makes for more communication when hosting and preparing meals for company.”
Line Different Spaces With Different Wall Décor
One underrated way to separate different spaces in your open floor plan? Decorate their walls differently. “Visual separation can be accomplished using a different paint color or different wall treatment,” Staples says.
Paint different zones different colors, line them with different materials, or cover one with wallpaper while you leave the other bare.
Pair Sofas That Face Both Ways
Putting sofas back-to-back doesn’t make sense in every home. But it’s a great way to encourage lounging in an open-concept space. By facing one couch toward the kitchen and one couch toward the living room, you can make space for pre-dinner chats and post-dinner conversations—giving guests an easy way to comfortably navigate the night.
Use Your Island to Break Things Up
If your kitchen is connected to another space—like a dining room or living room—use your island to separate the two. “I like to use the island as a separation from other rooms,” Staples says. “It gives you a good sight line from the kitchen, and allows people to be part of the kitchen preparation and the activity in the other room.”
Let Your Outdoor Space in on the Fun
Open-concept floor plans aren’t just for interiors. If your outdoor space is made for hosting, use sliding doors to let traffic flow freely between your patio and your living room.
Keep Your Layout Flexible
Keep flexibility in mind as you lay out your space. “Having furniture groupings that can spread out is a great way to lay out a space without cutting off another zone,” Coren says. Create several seating areas that you can combine or separate, depending on how many people you’re hosting.
And Schumacher recommends buying furniture that can multitask as well as your floor plan can. “Multi-functional pieces—such as consoles, swivel chairs, tête-à-têtes, or even plants—can be placed between two areas to provide use opportunity for both spaces,” she says. “Sharing pieces keeps the larger space feeling connected, but also provides individual experiences in the smaller areas."