An increasing number of today’s floor plans reflect the popularity of open plans for custom homes. Many of the floor plans we offer draw on the concept in one way or another. The benefits of open floor plans are fairly obvious: They increase the visual size of a room, making it feel more spacious; they take advantage of natural light; and they create an atmosphere that’s accessible and inclusive.
For some homeowners, however, all that openness can feel a bit too open. They want to establish or preserve the unique characteristics of individual rooms—without separating the rooms with walls. How do you do that? Here are just a few ideas that allow you to take advantage of the benefits of open plan living while enjoying the ambience of each individual room.
- Screens or Half Walls: You can use folding screens (or even folding doors) to create visual dividers between areas. Depending on how much you want to separate the areas, you can use floor-to-ceiling screens or screens that are open at the top and/or bottom. If you’re aiming for a simple visual break you might want to go with a smaller screen—or even one that’s translucent. If you really want to establish a firm break (or maybe want to dampen sound), you might go with a more substantial screen.
- Indoor Windows: What if you have a space that you use as a home office or as a reading area that you want to set off—without sacrificing the natural light that an open floor plan affords? Consider using a framed glass wall that provides a touch of privacy and sound dampening, but still lets light through.
- See-through Shelving: Building shelves that are open on both sides establishes the boundaries of a room without cutting the room off entirely or blocking light. You’ll want to be somewhat careful what you display on the shelves (you don’t want them to look cluttered), but this is an effective way to define a space without actually building solid walls.
- Use Furniture as Dividers: You can use lower cabinets (sofa-height or even buffet-height) to set off a sitting area. It still leaves you with a very open space, but the buffet, storage cabinet, or short bookshelf establishes the boundary of the space. In the picture above, you can see how the sofa marks the line between the dining area and the living room/great room.
- Flooring: Another effective way to define different spaces—without using walls—is with your flooring. If you have wood floors through out several rooms, you can use large area rugs (in different colors) to establish specific areas. Or you might have stone or tile in your kitchen and go to wood in the family room or great room.
Open floor plans are great for visual space and for taking advantage of natural light. And with the right touches, you can create specific areas within the larger space. It’s kind of like having your cake and eating it, too!