Planning an Open Concept Floor Plan

Are open concept floor plans on their way out? Some interior designers and architects think so, especially in the wake of a pandemic that kept everyone at home for months—and therefore in desperate need of more privacy and less sprawling common areas.

But it’s probably inaccurate to assume that people are ready to return to homes with plenty of walls and clearly delineated rooms. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that open concept isn’t dead, it’s just evolving to better suit our collective needs.

Because despite the almost universal appeal of open concept floor plans, it can be very challenging to do it right—and there’s always the risk of designing an especially large storage room instead of a functional space.

Fortunately, 2021’s open concept designs look a little different from what you’ve seen on home decorating shows. And if you’re planning on building or remodeling a home, it’s crucial that you understand the basics in making an open or semi open floor plan work for you. Here’s our tips for making an open concept floor plan work for you.

Start with the End in Sight

Ever wonder what an interior designer actually does? If the architect designs the home and the contractor/builder oversees construction, do you really need another professional involved? 

There’s a common misconception that an interior designer is the same as an interior decorator, someone who helps you pick out furnishings and curtains as the final step before moving in.

But while an interior decorator can be a very useful asset, an interior designer is the person who prevents the number one mistake in open concept floor plans: the creation of that large box with no differentiation between spaces and tons of wasted square footage. 

Whether you plan to hire an interior designer or not, it is important to think like one when planning your future home. A few things to consider:

  • What purpose will your open concept space encompass outside of the kitchen area? Dining? Entertaining? Relaxation? Even if you don’t have physical walls, these spaces will still need to be clearly delineated. 
  • What decisions need to be made before and/or during construction? Considerations like lighting, major appliances, built-ins, pocket doors, or non-traditional partial walls are all things that need to be decided before the final phases of construction, not after. 
  • Remember, it’s expensive and difficult to reconfigure electrical systems or install built-ins for an entertainment center after the major construction is complete. But all too often, homeowners plan for an open concept design assuming they’ll figure out how to fill the space after they move in. 

Coordinate and Separate

Open concept floor plans mean everyone sees the majority of public spaces within the home at the same time. So if the kitchen is done in an entirely different design style than entertaining or dining areas, it’s much more obvious than in a closed concept home. 

That's why it’s important to coordinate spaces without going too far in the other direction and matching everything so perfectly the space looks staged instead of thoughtfully coordinated. Uniform flooring, wall treatments, and color schemes are perfect when paired with a variety of furniture styles, textiles, and accent colors. 

Additionally, an open concept floor plan is best executed using clearly defined and separated “zones” for the kitchen, dining, and lounge/entertainment areas. Instead of pushing furniture and accessories against the walls in order to maintain the “open” space, create intentional separations throughout the area.

Separate dining and seating areas by placing tables and sofas horizontally or diagonally, allowing them to act as visual (but not literal) walls. Rugs, lamps, and other accessories can also help act as visual cues to transition people through different zones.

An open concept home is the result of a team effort. So make sure you’ve got the best professionals available to design, build, and coordinate every space in the house. Contact us today to start building your team right alongside your floorplans, and don’t forget to get started on budgeting with our free online estimator. 

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