Up Your Open Floor Plan
a Healthy Home with Open Space
some homes, an open-plan living area is built into the layout of
the ground floor area by design; in others, walls have to be knocked
through to combine two or more small rooms into one large open area.
In a restricted space, the absence of clearly defined rooms produces
an illusion of spaciousness and makes a greater floor area available.
In larger homes, an unpartitioned layout engenders a feeling of
unlimited space with limitless design potential.
decorating an open-plan area, you are aiming not only to create
an attractive-looking room but also to make the large living space
workable. You may have the luxury of a fabulous amount of space
to play with but, unless you have a very large house, you also have
to fit a lot of activities into it certainly living and dining
facilities and sometimes the hall, stairs, and/or kitchen, too.
So in your planning you need to allow for socializing, watching
television, relaxing, working, and dining - in some cases maybe
even cooking and sleeping as well.
helps to get the layout of the activity areas and the furniture
placement sorted out before you finalize the color scheme and soft
furnishings. You can demarcate functional areas within the broader
scheme using furniture, flooring, lighting, or screens. Then you
can use colors and patterns either to unify the various zones or
to reinforce their moods and functions. Time spent at an early stage,
working out how the open-plan area will look and function, makes
the world of difference to the ease with which you can use it.
key to a successful open-plan layout lies in keeping it simple.
Sometimes your freedom to maneuver is limited. The location of a
fireplace, for example, largely determines the best place to site
the easy seating. Windows, doors, and other rooms also impose themselves
on the layout of the space. For instance, it makes sense to site
the dining section at the end of the area nearer the kitchen. If
possible, it is pleasant to position the dining table near a window
where it will catch die sunshine at breakfast time. On the other
hand, you want to place the television where the screen doesn't
catch the glare of the sun through a window.
well-chosen pieces of furniture - a sofa, a dining table and chairs,
maybe a desk, side tables, and storage units - are preferable to
crowding the space. Strategically positioned, they help to create
a structure for the area and accommodate all the people using it.
A sofa bed offers the sleeping option. Ample storage makes it easier
to preserve an uncluttered look.
positioning: Arrange the furniture so that people will use it rather
than reorganizing it every time the room is occupied.
flow: It is important to work out a convenient traffic flow through
the whole room. When the open-plan living area is the only route
from the front door to the kitchen, you want to avoid having to
make a detour around a table or cutting across a group of armchairs
to get there.
zones: A table, chest, sofa, or sideboard placed across the open-plan
space sets up a spatial and visual break to differentiate activity
zones without destroying the sensation of roominess.
the dining area: If you prefer to use most of the open-plan area
as one large living room, a folding dining table that you can push
against a wall until you need it is a good idea. When you want a
distinct dining section, instead of leaving the dining table surrounded
by chairs, disperse some to other parts of the room for a more informal
look and extra seating.
you find you need more privacy in a particular area of the living
space, erect a formal room divider. Before rushing into building
a permanent divider or buying a freestanding screen, experiment
with an improvised divider to make certain that the new arrangement
fits the bill. Floor-to-ceiling curtains, for example, drawn across
between two sections of the room, muffle sound and create a sense
of division and coziness. You must position the partition carefully
so that it does not cut across a window, make a room disagreeably
dark, slice into an elegant plastered ceiling, or obstruct movement
around the room.
here for more information about dividers.
and pattern are crucial to the success of the whole layout. Overall
cohesion is best maintained by the use of the same or coordinated
wall coverings, fabrics, and flooring throughout the area. The flow
of colors between sections of the room visually holds the space
the other hand, you can positively emphasize a change of shape or
function in the room with color or pattern. By following an obvious
structural division, such as the line of a former dividing wall
or an alcove, you can modify the color scheme and atmosphere in
each activity area. Avoid too many changes, or the area can look
cluttered and lose the sense of space.
coverings usually play a significant part in reinforcing the overall
or subdivided nature of an open-plan space. In general, it is best
to keep to the same tone throughout the area, even if you vary the
material. You can combine a pale carpet in the living space, for
example, with woodstrip flooring over the dining section, or vinyl
tiles in the kitchen area.
worth remembering that footsteps tend to reverberate in a large
area. All-over carpet or natural-fiber flooring, laid on good-quality
padding, muffles the sound and forms an excellent background for
decorative rugs. If you prefer the bare-floorboard look, scattering
a few rugs over the floor helps to deaden the sound.
rugs are also useful for demarcating definite territories in the
room - perhaps in front of a fireplace to anchor a seating arrangement
or under a dining table to mark out the eating area.
open-plan conversions result in a room with a window at each end,
often of a different shape and size. The same window treatment may
not be appropriate for both. However, using the same or complementary
fabrics to make a blind or perhaps a valance for a small window
at the back of the house and more lavish curtains for the front
windows establishes continuity between the two ends of the room.
of the same eye-catching color, appearing on cushions, ornaments,
pictures, plants, and rugs dispersed around the area, are all excellent
devices for drawing attention to specific zones while unifying the
lighting system is vital to making the whole open-plan area work
effectively. The immense diversity of activities that go on in an
open-plan area calls for general, task, and accent lighting.
background lighting, supplied by sconces or other wall-mounted lights
and spotlights on the ceiling, is supplemented by localized task
and accent light sources in separate activity areas. Table lamps,
desk lights, floor lamps, and freestanding torches are portable
light sources and flexible design tools that create warm pools of
light around the room wherever you want them. At the dining area,
concentrate most of the light on the dining table. A rise-and-fall
pendant which lifts out of the way when not in use is an ideal light
source, as long as you remember it is fixed and governs the table
outlet sunk into the floor under a sofa or armchair means that you
can have table or floor lamps close to the seating area without
the need for a light cord trailing dangerously across the floor
from the wall. For a variable atmospheric effect, fit dimmer switches.
These let you adjust the level of lighting in different areas of
the room to suit the occasion and to balance natural and artificial
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the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.