Cook, relax and socialise in style with designer tips for the hub of your home.
An open plan kitchen and living room represents the heart of the home, as a place to cook, relax and enjoy time together with family and friends. Therefore, it deserves a design that’s worthy of showing off as well as offering the practicality you need for a multi-functional space. While the absence of a wall dividing two of the busiest rooms in the house makes for a bright, airy space, it’s often a little tricky to decorate. How do you ensure that the kitchen, dining and living areas work individually while retaining harmony in the overall look?
We’ve got you covered with clever designer tips.
Zoom in on zones
Successful open plan living is all about zooming in on zones, to ensure each area is well defined. To design your open plan kitchen living room layout, consider the general movements of everyone in the house. For example, do the kids usually do homework while you’re making dinner? Does someone like to relax on the sofa with a book while others are catching up on the day? Everything is possible when you create the right vibe in each distinct area.
Easy open plan living room ideas include feature walls to enhance different moods. For example, choose a deep, soothing colour behind a sofa for relaxation and a lighter, brighter shade for the wall near the dining table or in the kitchen. Pull furniture away from the walls and play with layouts that encourage flow and movement, while partially segregating each space. Your floors offer another great way to highlight different zones. Consider bold rugs or use carpet in the main living area and laminate or wooden floorboards for the adjoining areas.
Open plan colour schemes
No matter how you choose to divide the zones, open plan colour schemes create visual harmony throughout your space. It’s a good idea to use two or three base colours to unify the different sections, then add pops of contrasting colour for depth and character. For example, choose whites and greys as base colours, like White Cotton, Deep Fossil and Polished Pebble. Then, highlight the kitchen with a splash of bright Lemon Pie or Orange Fizz on the upper part of a feature wall.
Complementary colours, like pink and green, separate space beautifully while creating a cohesive appeal. Consider painting a kitchen island or the lower half of a bench in rich Healthland near a backdrop wall coated in pretty Satin Bow. If you want a contemporary feel, colour blocking is a design trend that emphasises different zones via feature walls or with pieces of furniture that act as dividers.
Small open plan ideas
An open plan kitchen living room layout is a little trickier in a small space, but the same tips apply. Start with unifying the space in order to get creative with zones. When you don’t have much room, look to the ceiling and know that it doesn’t have to be white! Paint it in a rich, earthy tone like Heartwood to make a statement across the entire space, with light, airy neutrals on the walls and cabinets. Lay down rugs under the dining or coffee tables to divide sections without taking up space.
Use lighting to your advantage as a way to increase the illusion of space and emphasize zones. Open plan living room ideas include mirrors to bounce natural light around for a more spacious feel. Create a cosy zone or two with table lamps near the sofa. Mount a decorative pendant light over your dining table to highlight a fun, social atmosphere that differs from the overhead lights you may have in the kitchen. Don’t forget to minimise clutter, with hidden storage and multi-functional furniture.
Open plan furnishings and décor
It’s not always easy to visualise how furniture will fit into an open plan kitchen living room layout, especially when you’re starting from scratch. A top tip is to use masking tape to mark out similar-sized shapes on the floor before buying anything new. Your aim is to ensure clear pathways through each zone, to avoid those awkward spots where you accidentally bump into the sharp corner of a chair every day.
For storage, tall, open shelves are an excellent way to create zones while retaining a sense of openness. The key is to keep them uncluttered and decorative with photos, ornaments and artworks, or colourful storage containers to hide odds and ends. To add a sense of intimacy, consider a corner sofa to define the living room as a comfortable haven. In an open plan kitchen, have a breakfast bar with stools under the kitchen bench for casual meals and promote a more formal vibe around the dining table.
Dress each zone with accessories for pops of colour, character and texture. For example, plants throughout the room bring the outdoors in and unify the design. Then, choose patterned rugs, artwork and statement furniture to evoke the right mood in each section.
Throughout the design process, don’t forget to keep stepping back to view the overall look, feel and practicality of the space. Be careful not to fill it up with too much stuff that simply detracts from the ‘open’ part of open plan living room ideas. Keep experimenting with furniture placement in this way and you’ll know when your multi-functional space feels just right for you and your family.