How to design an open concept home

Blog Posts  |  Design Articles  |  How-to's  |  August 23, 2019

How to design an open concept home?

How houses have evolved over time:

Remember when our homes were divided into small rooms and there was no question what the rooms would be used for? (Kitchen, living room, dining room, etc.) As the world around us continues to evolve, it comes as no surprise that the way we build homes is evolving too. Your house, that man-made shell that holds all of your daily activities, is changing to reflect modern living. Moreover, the notion of moving from closed-off rooms to open concepts continues to gain popularity. We are seeing this, especially in urban and suburban living environments. This is because the open concept design allows for flexible and informal arrangements. In addition, it offers better communication and sociability with more natural lighting. 

Problems with open concept design?

Some challenges may arise when trying to decorate an open concept home. You might ask yourself, will my space look cluttered? Can I achieve a unified look? What about wall space? Today we’ll be talking about the 3 F’s: Function, Flow and Focal points. The following design tips will help you design an open concept space that works best for you and your family.

3 TIPS on how to design an open concept home

1. Function, Separation and Clear Design Intent:

  • In an open concept (see sketches below), there are no walls separating the different functions served in the living room, dining room and kitchen. Hence, it is very important that every space shows a clear design intent in order to prevent visual clutter and identity loss. For example, the living room furniture shouldn’t occupy the dining room nook and vice versa. Instead, it should be clear to those using the space what the room is for. (We eat here and we watch TV over there.) This rule is easy enough to implement when the floorplans are straight forward. (image 1) It gets more difficult to achieve design intent when the layout is more complex. (image 2)


2. Design Flow And Continuity: 

  • It is very important for the design to flow from one area to the next in an open floor layout. This means coordinating colours, finishes, furniture styles and themes. There’s no need to go matchy-matchy, but everything should look nice together. For instance, if you opt for a country theme in your kitchen with all the rustic finishes, then you should consider going with a similar concept for your dining table. In other words, a farmhouse chic table with distressed wood finishes can fit the space perfectly. However, a table with contemporary glossy finishes and shiny metals can look alien in the room. (Read about more design flow solutions)


Examples of newly designed open-concept spaces 

3. Combined Focal Points:

Perhaps the biggest challenge you can face with open concepts is the lack of walls to work with. For example, the living room space might have one wall with only a fireplace in the center. In a case like this, it’s advisable to combine focal points such as the TV and fireplace into one*. This way, you can save more wall space and allow for easier and more flexible furniture placement.

*In this scenario, you need to check the city codes for safety regarding the type of fireplace and the distance between the fireplace insert and TV.

Make a plan first

In conclusion, open concept homes can be harder to design than those with closed layouts. My final advice to you would be to plan everything before you do anything. This way you will eliminate the surprises and problems you might face and you will have a better idea of what the final design will look like. Ideally, with an open concept design, there are more spaces and rooms transitioning into each other seamlessly. If you’re cooking dinner in the kitchen, you can socialize with family and friends within view and you don’t have to miss out on any of the news!

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