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  • Lindsey Borchard

Design Challenge: Open Concept Spaces

Open-concept spaces have been all the rage in new construction homes for the last few years. And for good reason: they are great for families and entertaining and are practical to build, but they can present some unique challenges for design. But with a good plan and attention to detail, any challenge can be overcome! Here's how we create cozy, layered spaces even within sometimes-cavernous open floor plans.

open concept kitchen

open concept living space

Use Color to Unite the Space

Our clients in Dallas bought a new home with a large rectangular space in the back that holds the living space, dining space, and kitchen. The kitchen cabinetry and fireplace was painted a bold forrest green (Caldwell Green by Benjamin Moore), which tied the large room together, but could have easily overwhelmed. To keep it from doing so, we stuck really closely to the color palette of the space and brought in lots of texture and large-scale furnishings so the large room felt cozy.

The room also featured wood beams and doors that led to the outdoor space, so we used that caramel tone as inspiration for the wood and leather barstools and the leather ottoman. Since the cabinet color was bold, we went equally bold and chose a dark navy sectional and dark wood dining table which keeps the heavy green from taking over the room. All of the greens, blues, and caramels are tied together in the custom piece of string art we commissioned from Lauren Williams Art.

open concept living space

open concept kitchen with waterfall counter

Create Spaces within the Space

Even though it's an open floor plan, creating smaller spaces within it will help the flow of the overall room, and make it feel more cozy. In our Valley Village remodel, we opened up a cramped galley kitchen and underused sunroom to create a large living space, but within it, made five distinct zones: kitchen, lounge space, dining area, fireplace corner, and a cozy inset seating nook painted Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball. We carried some of the same elements such as tile, lighting, and fabrics throughout the space, but gave each zone a distinct purpose and function.

open concept living and dining room

Space Plan with Caution

Furniture arrangement is one of the biggest challenges with open floor plans because there are fewer walls on which to anchor your pieces. Since most things like sofas, end tables, and chairs will be floating in the room, it is crucial to choose furnishings that fit while leaving room for traffic flow -- at least 3 feet is a good rule of thumb. To do this, take careful measurements of your space and any furnishings and test them out with either hand-drawings or by tracing them on the floor with removable painters' tape.

open concept kitchen and dining space

open concept living space with shiplap accent wall

Leave Room for Surprises

Add fun and surprising design elements in each space to help them stand out. In our Beach-to-the-Burbs project, the kitchen opened to a casual dining nook and family room, so we anchored the TV-watching space by lining the back wall with vertical planks and painting it dark charcoal gray while the rest of the room is painted a soft white. Storage along the bottom of the TV wall has the same profile as the nearby kitchen cabinetry and the open shelving recalls the light wood finish on the round dining table and by repeating those textures, colors, and materials the overall design feels cohesive.

If your open floor plan still has you stumped, get in touch by filling out our inquiry form. And be sure you are following us on Instagram for daily design tips + inspiration!


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