Open Plan Living: A Guide to Ensuring Every Space Reaches its Full Potential

Everyone wants an open floor plan.  A large great room that connects the kitchen, dining room, and living room. It is the perfect setup for entertaining guests around the kitchen island or being able to keep your eyes on the big game while grabbing a quick snack from the fridge. But having that spread of open space can be challenging to arrange. Many homeowners purchase their open plan home without thinking through how to best arrange the space for function, traffic patterns, and spacial sectioning. That’s where Elizabeth Erin Designs professional designers can come in and give the best advice for creating your open floor plan. Here are some tips to help you in your open plan living journey!

One notable tip to start off is to make sure to section off your spaces. Instead of having one large open space where everything melds together, try to create designated living, dining, and kitchen areas. One way to create these separations without walls is through the use of area rugs to define a space. As we did in our open concept design below, the properly sized area rug in the living space helps to section off that space, creating a cozy room inside of a room. It also gives a grounded feeling to the room, by allowing the space to feel cozy when it may otherwise feel cavernous and cold without it. The lighting selected for these spaces helps section off the functions from the living room fan to the dining chandelier. 

One open plan we worked with in this home carries on the lighting and area rug tricks to separate rooms, but also adds in the element of the ceiling. The ceiling is a plane that is often forgotten about, but it has so many design possibilities. In this photo, we recessed the ceiling and added a very bold black paint to define the area. The space is still tied into the rest of the flow from room to room by the repudiative use of the color black. We also made sure to set up the room ideally so that bulky furniture wasn’t congesting the space and making traffic patterns difficult. These barstools are just the right size to fit the island bar but also leave an adequate amount of space for the walkway between the kitchen and the seating area. 

The idea is to define by not confine these spaces so they feel seamlessly and are cohesive. The key to that issue is consistency and repeating/balancing color. Make sure when opening up rooms or knocking down walls that the rooms are able to meld together well. To help with this, one tip is to coordinate colors whether that be through finishes, wall paint, or accessories. Consistent flooring also makes a huge difference as shown in both of our images above. Find the sweet spot between not melding well enough and not being distinguishing enough. You want your spaces to look great altogether in a row, but they should all also have their own unique flair of some sort.

Our furniture design above show cases the builder’s continuation of the soft blue wall color from the living area into the dining/kitchen area. This element helps it all feel connected.

Notice how all of the spaces are arranged by function and pay attention to the natural flow of traffic. The dining rooms are right off the kitchen when needing to serve food. The living rooms are separated in their own area, the backs of chairs/sofas creating the “room enclosure”. This is a layout that makes sense, doesn’t clog up space and is function forward. 

Other tricks could be to try to eliminate or open up doorways between spaces, eliminate any soffits in the space, or try adding in open shelving. These all help really open up the space even more to emphasize the size of the area and ease of access to everything. Hopefully when creating your own open plan living space, you take these tips into account to make your space reach its full potential, if not Elizabeth Erin Designs team will be available to assist you in your journey!

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our nationwide interior design services, we can be reached through our website CLICK HERE.  There you can also view our portfolio.   If you have a topic you would like us to cover in a future blog, please email us at and let us know what you would like to hear about.  Stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest interior design information. Have a beautiful week and remember Elizabeth Erin Designs is always here to shed light on how we can assist you in achieving your vision!

We are blessed to employee some of the best up and coming interior designers in training!  This blog was written by Aimee Wallner, Jr. at ISU Interior Design Program and edited by Jodi Peterman.  Fantastic job Aimee!