What’s not to love about spacious living areas? Open layouts are trendy, stylish, and appealing – indeed, they just might be at the top of your “must-have” list. Today’s vision of a dream home is one with uncluttered, bright, and airy living spaces – free of walls and dividing structures. It’s a very compelling and attractive picture.
Post-modern open concept floor plans – when carefully planned by an architect, designed, and executed according to a family’s lifestyle and needs – are genuinely inviting and something to be desired. However, these wall-less plans can be tricky and present several challenges for homeowners and families. Let’s look at what design experts consider the most common pitfalls and mistakes people make when planning their open-concept space, how to avoid them, and how to create striking living areas that function effectively for your family.
Put in a lot of thought, time, and care in planning your open floor plan layout. Visualize your total space and the overall look you want for it. Do some research, ask questions; for example, how should the furniture, fixtures, rugs, and other pieces come together? How do you design the space according to your lifestyle? Do you want the living area for the family to relax and lounge around – or is it primarily an entertaining corner? Read design and architectural magazines, blogs, and other online sources to learn about potential layouts that may work better than what you originally had in mind.
While many experts favor the U-shape, there’s a right and wrong way of designing the U-shaped flow. While the open end of the U is excellent for a family to gather in and chat or play, placing the living room’s focal point (TV, fireplace) in the corner means that the place is awfully crowded. So instead of a large U, create a small U or even a reversed L-shape so that the seating group is not in the corner but closer to the TV or the fireplace.
Dividers are essential for keeping the rooms in your home organized and for giving the space a sense of order and definition. Dividers don’t have to be permanent and may include curtains, screens, or sliding doors.
However, keeping the barriers to a minimum is key to an open concept layout. A lack of walls and partitions in an open floor plan can leave a family feeling too exposed and vulnerable.
It would help if you struck a good balance. With too many dividing walls taken out of the equation, the entire space may feel very airy and too open. If that’s the case, you need to reinforce the room’s style and character by integrating the furniture, accessories, color scheme, and lighting to bring the space together.
Don’t overlook lighting in your open floor plan design, especially if you have young children in the house. Visualize how the space will be used and how those activities affect lighting. Young children and pets running around can easily knock over lamps, waste energy, and create a disruptive environment.
Open floor plans can create an attractive, elegant, and functional layout. While they’re undoubtedly trendy and draw a lot of interest, they’re not all that simple to design, put together and manage.
The more you know about the layout, the more you can enjoy the space. Just remember, you need to plan carefully to create the best open concept living spaces for you and your family.
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