There are certain projects where open-plan living just makes sense – lofts, barn conversions, modern villas… But, even amongst townhouses, urban apartments and grand new build mansions, the style is been incorporated more and more. Whether better interaction between public spaces (how often do chefs say they love still being part of the conversation in an open plan kitchen living room?), better flow between areas of the home or more light, open-plan living areas have many benefits.

Fresh from the success of their most recent open-plan project, Millier’s Danielle Carter has all the expert advice from simple open plan living room ideas to how to handle a much more complex open plan kitchen dining living room situation.

What are some of the merits of open-plan living spaces?

Open-plan living provides huge amounts of flexibility within an inviting and social space. It also enhances spatial perception meaning smaller rooms appear far more substantial. Through removing interior walls and partitions, natural light is in abundance which reduces dead spaces and dark corners.

How do you go about creating fluid but defined spaces in an open-plan home?

The use of rugs beneath furniture groupings can be a good technique in denoting zones within a larger area. Overhead lighting such as decorative pendants can also be used to visually draw your eye towards the centre point of a defined space such as dining or living areas. Circulation is crucial when designing open-plan living, and one must ensure there is open floor space to move freely around larger furniture groupings.

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Do you have any tips for making an open-plan space feel inviting and intimate?

A good technique in creating warm and intimate spaces is to allow for sufficient low-level ambient lighting within zones such as table and floor lamps. It is also important to create smaller areas within areas so the overall space doesn’t feel cavernous. Use of soft furnishings and tactile textures will also entice you into the space. Don’t neglect the wall surfaces – use of artwork can add an extra layering which makes any residence feel more homely.

What are some smart furniture arrangements that suit open-place spaces?

It’s important to create areas within areas so the interior has depth. Orientation should also be considered and sensible. It’s also good practice to arrange furniture in such a way that allows an invitation point within a grouping. If the back of a sofa is in the middle of a room and visually heavy or displeasing, the placement of an attractive console table behind the sofa can communicate with the space beyond and serve as a surface to layer up with beautiful objets.

How is furniture scale important in an open-plan space?

It is always important to select items which are appropriately scaled to the room. Within a larger space, especially if there is a generous ceiling height, furniture should be grounded and not too spindly to counter [and] balance the room volume. Avoid placing large solid objects in the centre of the space that might obstruct your view across the room. Remember, scale guides great design!

Which styles do you recommend for an open-plan living space?

The style of furniture and furnishings really comes down to client or designer flair, however, it’s important that whatever style is chosen complements the base build and interior architecture.

How do you recommend balancing cohesiveness with interest?

There should be a visual link or cohesiveness from space to space… more of a language rather than a specific style. Interest and eclecticism can be introduced through accessorising, cushions and drapery, smaller furniture accents, and artwork, whilst larger items could be slightly more paired back.

Are there some rooms you wouldn’t suggest to be included in an open-plan home?

I guess the obvious answer would be bedroom and en suite, however if you are wanting to maintain an open plan master suite in the same room as the living space, we would strongly suggest to keep the en suite as a separate partitioned room. Dressing rooms are also difficult to keep tidy so best to conceal.

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What would be your advice be for someone considering a bedroom or an office space as part of a larger open-plan space?

We suggest to treat a home study as a pod or a room within a room, especially if it benefits from a natural lighting source i.e. [a] window. You can then leave the door in an open position or shut when extra privacy is needed.

Do you have any tips on transitioning from open-plan to private spaces?

We like to refer to this as a “liminal” space, where a transition or transformation takes place – the area between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next’, like an opera overture. This is the perfect opportunity to place a console table with lamp or artwork in the hallway to create a pause moment and visual link to transition from your social to private zones.

What are some of the problems with open-plan living and how can they be resolved?

Acoustic layering through the use of soft furnishings such as rugs is a good way to manage and absorb sound. A decorative screen/fretwork used as a room divider can create a private space [or] nook whilst maintaining a visual link to the rest of the space without introducing solid partitions. Discreet sliding or folding doors could also be used to close off certain areas when required i.e. [a] kitchen or dining room.