What is an open floor plan? We may picture the absence of walls, vast expanses of windows letting bright light in, rooms blending together without the limits of doors or corridors. Ultimately, it’s about creating a flow to maximize your living space, create a fluid environment that brings unencumbered serenity without losing functionality.
Interior designer and reinventor of space Andrée Putman loved to open up floor plans to create new ways of living. She once said:
“It is not about bathing in the living room and cooking in the bedroom but rather about opening spaces to various activities. Why should places be reduced to one function instead of favoring the sensations they offer to us?”
There are no rules on how to achieve an open floor plan; it has to fit your lifestyle and respond to your needs. There are, however, best practices to follow if you want your interior to match the open concept style.
In this article, we explain how to get started and a few basics designers agree upon.
Project Planning and Constraints
If you’ve toyed with the idea of reinventing your space and removing barriers to create a seamless flow, we suggest you take a little more time to carefully plan the remodeling process. Bringing down walls, raising ceilings and opening up glass walls to let the outside in is not a small affair.
First, observe the space and how you and your family use it. Note what creates frustration, what triggers a vision. Visualize rooms united with no partition. What will the space become? How will floor paths work? Does your furniture lend itself to rearranging?
Once you have a sense of the final floor plan and a solid wish list, discuss feasibility with your contractor. Load bearing walls will have to stay or be outfitted with cross beams to support the weight; electricity may need to be partially redone, outlets moved, some added. Since electrical will be exposed at some point, take the opportunity to make improvements.
Remodeling should not be a process paved with disappointment and bad news. But with a carefully planned project brings great satisfaction.
Elements of a Great Open Floor Plan
Much like planning the demo/remo project, outfitting and decorating the space takes thoughtful consideration. Make an inventory of your furniture, art work, rugs and décor items and start playing house on paper. Follow a few practices decorators wouldn’t miss.
Create “rooms” within the big room
Open space doesn’t mean no dedicated areas. Living room, dining, reading. You don’t have to specifically create multiple “rooms”; modulable furniture or easy to rearrange pieces can transform a reading area into a conversation area, or a gathering spot when you entertain.
Eliminating walls and partitions is a great opportunity to define the space with area rugs and to direct path flow with narrow consoles.
Cluttering with too many pieces of furniture would defeat the purpose. Keep walkway paths at least 3 feet wide and leave 4 feet of space around the dining table so you can freely move around pulled chairs.
Integrate linear geometry
With an open volume, spaces can feel scattered. Clever use of symmetry can make a room more functional and welcoming. You can use the “mirror effect” with two sofas back to back or repeat an element of décor throughout the different areas. It can be as simple as equidistant colorful pillows, or the distribution of art on the remaining walls. Your style is the master here, and you may find yourself trying too hard to follow a “principle”. Don’t create an open floor plan for the sake of it, create YOUR open floor plan.
Pick a unified color scheme
An abundance of clashing colors is not recommended, but that’s not to say color is banned from open floor plan design. A complementary color palette is usually best, either a monochrome with an accent wall, or a gradient in hues of the same color. To maximize the brightness you achieved by opening the living space and make the room feel even bigger, pick light colors that will reflect light (dark colors absorb sun rays).
Life in black and white and taupe is dull. For abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” Use bright or dark colors to create texture, pillows, throws, art, flowers… Choose colors that make you happy or serene, that energize you or soothe you.
As for any of these best practices, listen to your taste rather than trends. You live here, design gurus don’t.
Designate a focal point
When entering an open space, the eyes invariably look for a resting spot. If you’re lucky enough to have an amazing feature in the room, now is the time to make it shine. An element typically common to open living is access to a view. Homeowners opt to remove visual barriers inside so they can connect with outside. Whether it is a lush garden, a majestic mountain or the ocean – anything that is “wow” really – it would be a shame to let it be known only by a select few. And it would be even more shameful to not give yourself all the benefits of frameless glass doors.
If you open the space, why not open it all the way to nature’s wonders? The volumes will be that much more enhanced by removing visual obstacles, on top of which, you will create a smooth indoor/outdoor transition, truly reinventing the concept of bringing the outdoors in.
We can’t wait to make your open floor plan vision a reality. Get in touch, today to learn about all of the ways the Cover Glass can transform your home.