Those who have open plan living rooms already will tell you that the reasons behind this trend go far beyond style. Free and unrestricted living areas are also an incredibly functional option, allowing you to create stronger connections with other rooms in your home, be this the kitchen, dining area, or both.
In this guide, we take a look at our top 10 open plan living room ideas. Along the way, you’ll find tons of useful advice from the creative team at GreatBeanBags. Read on to discover tips on everything from how to decorate an open plan living room to ‘zoning’ the space into areas that serve different purposes.
Use the links below to find the sections that you're most interested in:
- Connect up with other parts of the house
- Create flow between areas with uniform flooring
- Zoning: how to divide an open plan living room
- Use colour to tie it all together
- Make it minimalist, but with a personal touch
- Focus on multi-functionality
- Find your focal point
- Never forgo comfort
- Opt for portable furniture
- Let your lighting do the talking
1. Connect up with other parts of the house
The classic option is to go for an open plan living room-kitchen-diner. If you’re looking to create an even more expansive space, you could consider opening up the living room to your stairway and landing as well. You can use this mezzanine design tactic to carve out an impressive double-height setting, with the added advantage of being able to call out to people upstairs from the comfort of your sofa.
Those who opt for this all-out open plan living room idea would do well to consider zoning the space as highlighted by the example below. Without clearly defined cooking, eating, and seating areas, rooms like this can start to feel quite jumbled together.
2. Create flow between areas with uniform flooring
A great way to emphasise the connection between your open plan living room and the dining area is to pick uniform flooring throughout. Wooden floorboards or rectangular tiles are both ideal for designing spaces that flow together. The direction in which you lay the flooring is key here: you can draw the eye towards a passageway or focal point by laying along the width, whereas lengthway flooring helps to make the room more sweeping and expansive.
3. Zoning: how to divide an open plan living room
Although it might seem incompatible with the central idea of open plan living, zoning is actually one of the core principles of this interior design style. A completely undivided space can feel too vast, creating the effect of a cold and empty art gallery rather than a cosy room that you’d like to relax in. To counteract this, try separating the space out into distinct functional areas through your design choices (a classic staple open plan living room idea).
When it comes to subtly suggesting different zones, the arrangement of your furniture and decor is a brilliant place to start. Large floor rugs, sofas, and bean bag chairs can be used to design a comfortable seating and relaxation section of the room. If you’re looking to mark the boundary between the kitchen and dining area, a well-positioned island unit is the perfect solution.
Your choice of lighting is also a brilliant way to suggest divisions in the room. Read on for more on this.
4. Use colour to tie it all together
Colour is pretty important when it comes to crafting an impressive open plan space. Once you’ve decided on your paint or wallpaper, you can then make nods to this core shade in your colour scheme through upholstery and decorations in other parts of the room to make cross-connections. This could be as simple as picking out matching curtains and walls, or as subtle as finding a candle in the same tone as your kitchen cabinets.
5. Make it minimalist, but with a personal touch
It’s no secret that minimalist interior design marries well with open plan living rooms. But a lack of clutter doesn’t necessarily have to mean a lack of character. You can keep your furniture and decoration relatively sparse, yet also inject some personality. By its nature, this will be – well – personal to you. It could be that you’re green-fingered and choose to ornament the space with a few choice houseplants, or you could opt to showcase some works by your favourite artist.
6. Focus on multi-functionality
One of the challenges of designing a large open plan room is the need for it to perform the functions that would otherwise have been spread across several different rooms. Careful zoning of the space from the outset will help you out here. Beyond the traditional seating, cooking, and dining areas, you may also want to consider introducing other useful zones such as a writing desk or reading nook to maximise the room’s utility.
7. Find your focal point
Perhaps the most vital open plan living room idea is to identify and design around the focal point of the space. This could be a unique ornament, a statement light fitting, or simply a spotlit island counter. Whatever you choose, ensure that the rest of your decor and furniture are arranged so as to emphasise the main talking point of the room. A fundamental element of interior design, your focal point should catch the eye as soon as you enter the space and leave a lasting impression.
8. Never forgo comfort
Even the most contemporary open plan rooms need a cosy spot or two. After all, what use is a beautiful home if you can never relax in it? Choose a sofa that complements the aesthetic, yes, but don’t forget that you’re also after a comfortable perch to lounge around on, whether you prefer a firm, supportive settee or something a little softer.
Although we may be biassed, there really is nothing better than one of our faux fur monster bean bags to complete the look of an open plan living room whilst immediately upping the comfort factor.
9. Opt for portable furniture
An excellent practical open plan living room idea is to pick out furniture that can be moved around effortlessly when you fancy a change of layout. Getting the feng shui of a large, multi-functional room right is no mean feat, and you can make things easy on yourself by choosing relatively lightweight portable items (it might be worth re-thinking that oversized hardwood coffee table!)
10. Let your lighting do the talking
Our final tip is to use cleverly thought-out lighting to achieve all of the aims we’ve discussed so far. As in the open plan space pictured below, you can use spotlights in combination with a bank of pendants to accentuate the different zones in the room – conversely, uniform lighting between two or more areas can help to suggest continuity.
This guide has offered 10 open plan living room ideas to help you make the most of the space with stylish yet practical interior design. Enjoyed reading? We have plenty of other blogs that might also appeal to you:
- Cosy Living Room Ideas: Design & Decor
- How to Make the Cosiest Kids' Reading Corner
- Loft Bedroom Design Ideas
If you’re looking to complete an open plan design, look no further than our collection of high-quality UK-made bean bags: