An open plan home is the modern design approach for the smart use of space. However, large spaces can be difficult to contain and decorate. For space AND intimacy, follow these essential tips.
An open plan home is a powerful design statement being spacious with a timeless aesthetic. Boasting freedom of movement, modern homes are now highly social spaces whereby the kitchen is no longer isolated.
As interior designers and renovators, the single biggest area of our work is designing an open plan home with a luxurious kitchen. This space is always connected to a casual dining and living area that flows outdoors via bi-fold or stacker doors. This creates seamless indoor-outdoor living perfect for the Australian lifestyle.
In an existing home, it’s common to combine two or more smaller rooms into one spacious kitchen-living combo. Did you know this can have numerous benefits for your psychological well-being?
#1 Benefit: There is a sense of freedom when walls and doors are removed. The removal of these ‘obstacles’ creates a calmness which is highly beneficial.
#2 Benefit: Removing walls will let in more natural light to saturate an expansive interior. Natural light is one of the key architectural tenets that help create a beautiful home.
Are you concerned about noise levels, kitchen aromas, or the lack of privacy? All these issues can be addressed with the smart use of ventilation, textures and layering, and medium-rise furniture.
Retain Structural Integrity
When designing an open plan home, never compromise the structural integrity of the existing building. Always seek advice from a Master Builder to ensure load-bearing walls and other weak points are identified. Load-bearing walls can be removed but must be strengthened with suitable beams, ceiling joists or columns.
Create A Focal Point In Your Open Plan Home
Include a focal point to draw the eye to a hero feature in an open plan space. Great ideas for a focal point include a stone fireplace, an oversized window, or cathedral ceilings. Every room should have some type of focal point. However, in an open plan home, it’s also a way to create intimacy. Because furniture and fixtures can be created around a focal point.
For example, having well-considered furniture styled around a fireplace creates a delineated conversation area. This keeps the space open but also creates a more intimate environment.
Decorating an open plan home can be difficult for the novice decorator. However, consider having a suitable interior designer engaged even before the building stage. Why? Because a qualified interior designer will be able to analyse the proposed floor plan, identify ways to maximise the space, design joinery AND decorate the finished space.
An interior designer will use furniture, lighting, colour, texture, and accessories to fully decorate an open concept space. They will do this in such a way that the space feels intimate not cavernous.
Keep A Unified Theme
Open concept homes must be cohesive especially when areas are delineated with furniture, architectural features, colour and rugs. The last thing you want is a cavernous space with all the furniture hugging the walls. You can still have unique spaces with an open-plan floor plan, just keep the colour palette and theme consistent.
Easily delineate spaces with some interior design tricks. For example, define the dining area by placing a large rug under the dining table and chairs.
How To Define An Area
Define a living area with sofa and chairs in an L-shape, a C-shape, or opposite each other with a rug and coffee table in between. Use console tables at the back of sofas to add some height with lamps, books, and other objects. Therefore, creating visually exciting ways to add energy to your interiors.
Unify spaces by using a similar colour palette – either several shades of the same colour or up to three colours using the 60/30/10 rule. 60% is the primary colour; 30% is the secondary colour; 10% is the accent colour.
Use architectural features, such as a low dividing wall, a pair of columns, a bulkhead or rustic beams to acknowledge the difference between spaces. A bulkhead in the kitchen may be lower than the ceiling in the living room, for example. In the image above, designed by Plush Design Interiors, the lowered ceiling delineates the kitchen area in an open plan home. Image by Claudine Burgess Photography.
Open Plan Home Ideas for Other Spaces
Comfortable living spaces aren’t the only areas suitable for an open concept. As more home owners create their own retreat, an open concept bedroom with walk-in robe and bathroom is popular. A free-standing wall hiding a walk-in robe behind has become more common than a walk-in robe with a door, for example.
Bathrooms that are freely seen from the bedroom can maximise the space and natural light beautifully. However, always ensure the toilet is not easily seen from the bedroom area.
I love open concept living. Using a few simple tricks your open plan home can be as warm and luxurious as you wish.
Architectural tenets are those areas that support the planning and philosophy of architectural design. These tenets will help you to have a more comfortable and functional home that supports your individual lifestyle. So what are these tenets?
When I was in high school, I studied technical drawing for two years with a view to being an architect. I have computer designed over 300 houses, and love architecture, however interior design was always my true passion. Even now, Plush Design Interiors designs home extensions and undertakes complex renovations. However, architectural practice and tenets are of great interest and do affect my work as an Interior Designer.
Some people may think that an Interior Designer simply chooses wall colours, fiddles with fabric and throws cushions around. Well, many of us do but that’s only one small part of creating beautiful spaces. Interior designers must consider five important architectural tenets BEFORE embarking on a design project.
1. The Space
One room can appear different from another through manipulation of the space. Any room must be a quality space that best functions in relation to YOUR family and lifestyle. How will the space be used and by whom? What activities will take place? What architectural features are part of the space?
I will consider the space and all its dimensions – vertical, horizontal and diagonal – and how the space will ‘work’ before other considerations. For example, does the space need a picture window, a door, a wall removed or a wall put in place. It’s true – form follows function with architectural tenets. My expertise will help you to identify how best to utilize the space and make it work for you.
2. The View
To maximize good views and minimise bad views is a key consideration. No one wants to look out to a brick wall. Other considerations are how much privacy may be required, how secure and protected the room feels, and if you want to see who is approaching but for them not to see you.
Many people miss this important element because they may assume that ‘the view is the view’ and not much can be done about it. However, good views can be maximized for great enjoyment. Similarly, bad views can be disguised and minimized with a variety of good design ideas. Remediation will also enhance your enjoyment of the space… and the view.
3. The Air
Cross-ventilation and the movement of air is very important. Heating and cooling affects your enjoyment of your home, and your budget. Houses that are more narrow and rectangular are easier to cool with fewer ‘dead spots’ of air. Whereas houses that are fatter and squarer are harder to cool with more ‘dead spots’ of air.
The air flow in your home is one of the important architectural tenets with which I can help you. Heating and cooling are one thing. However air extraction – say from a kitchen or bathroom – is important as is the flow of fresh air. Part of any interior design plan should include looking at these aspects.
4. The Light
As an interior designer, I will see how much natural light comes into a room, the arc of the sun and the lighting needs of the room. The positioning of the room in the house and on the block is also highly relevant.
There are three types of lighting – Ambient (sometimes called general lighting), Task and Accent – each of which has a different purpose. A study will require different lighting from a kitchen, a dining room or an open plan living room, for example. Ambient lighting is that used generally. Task lighting, as the name suggests, is for tasks such as reading, studying, cooking etc. And Ambient lighting is mood lighting so may include strip lighting, wall scones, and other soft lighting,
5. The Sound
Often forgotten, sound is an area that really does impact the livability of a home. Is the home next to a railway line? Are there timber floors that clatter and echo? Will children need to sleep while adults entertain friends? Will children playing need to be heard from another room? The acoustic properties of a home can be manipulated and remedied with acoustic panels, fabric, books, rugs, etc.
To truly live in a home that you love, an interior designer will consider these five architectural tenets before they begin to think about redecorating.
I’d Love To Help You Create A Dream Home
Whether you are building a new home or extensively renovating the home you have, Plush Design Interiors can help. From concept and design to demolition, renovation and handover, I’ll be with you every step of the way.
I work with a high-quality building company that will provide a detailed, fixed-price quote. Your new home or renovation could be closer than you think. Please feel free to contact me for a no-obligation chat. Please see what my clients say in their testimonials. I’d love to help you create a dream home.
Renovation advice is always best taken from people who have ACTUALLY renovated. As an interior designer, I help home lovers renovate all the time. So you can imagine I’ve learnt a few things along the way.
If you have read my earlier blog post on ‘Pre-Renovation Planning‘ you’ll know the important elements to consider when planning your renovation. So this renovation advice follows on from that post.
Once the pre-renovation basics are taken care of, you can plan the interior design. It is important to plan the interior design before you start renovating because it’s not all throw cushions and bed linens.
Why Take Renovation Advice From An Interior Designer?
Working with an interior designer isn’t just about choosing fabrics and positioning the sofa. Far from it, in fact.
At the time of planning to renovate, you’ll be dealing with Council approvals, contractors and suppliers. This is the ideal time to get an interior designer on board who can help you with floor plans, lighting, surfaces, flooring, colours and selections. These are all things you shouldn’t change once the re-building has begun.
Select all the finishes, fixtures and materials before getting quotes. In this way, it will be easier for contractors to quote more accurately saving you money down the track. This is renovation advice you need to know.
Did you know that most interior designers can recommend builders and other tradies with whom they work regularly? Plush Design Interiors does not take kick-backs or commissions from the trades we use. Therefore, we can work with your tradies or recommend our own.
An interior designer will help you select everything you require to get accurate quotes from other trades. Further, they can also negotiate discounts from retailers or gain better wholesale pricing for you.
Look to Your Home’s Architecture for Clues
There is so much inspiration for interior design that some people become paralysed with indecision. Consider the style of your home and decide on a theme before you start.
Is there a stunning stone fireplace, fabulous wooden floors or surprising windows? Which architectural features can you enhance? Again, an interior designer will help to clarify the design direction for your home. Their renovation advice will give you a result that reflects YOU not them.
See some of the ‘Testimonials‘ for Plush Design Interiors to see what other people have said about this.
Consider Your Lifestyle
How you live your life is a very important part of interior design. If you have small children or a dog that runs amok you’ll probably want to reconsider those white linen sofas. Be honest about how you live your life so your home can be functional as well as stylish. Choose surfaces, fabrics and flooring that reflect your lifestyle.
Plush Design Interiors LOVES The Textile and Design Company for super cool outdoor fabrics and knock-out sun umbrellas that are straight out of Hollywood. Divine!
Don’t be afraid to use outdoor fabrics and patio
paint indoors if you need tougher solutions. Modern fabrics and paints can be
tough but beautiful. Outdoor fabrics include soft and resilient velvets that
are virtually child-proof and weather resistant.
In looking at the floor plan, locate power points wherever you think you’ll need a plug and away from water sources. A lighting plan prior to your build will be of great benefit to your electrician. So follow this renovation advice to save you money and heartache.
Choose the Right Lighting
overlooked when renovating, lighting is a very important aspect. How much
natural light does your home enjoy? Should you install skylights? Lighting also
influences the way walls and ceilings are finished because lights cast shadows
or enhance areas.
Colours will look different under different lighting conditions – pendant lights versus wall scones, for example. Given you are renovating, get renovation advice on how to integrate lighting into the architecture.
Flexible track lighting is also increasingly popular. These moveable fittings have a come along way since ‘back in the day’ and are now beautifully designed as well as highly functional.
Remember the Landscaping
Make landscaping part of your plan. This will help with budgeting but may also relate to the colour and material choices you make.
For example, when considering the flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. For a seamless look, choose the same or very similar flooring options that flow between spaces. This may become a landscape issue when creating entertaining spaces adjacent to the home.
Further, when it comes to choosing plants and shrubs, ensure nothing is planted that will block natural light from entering a room.
The perfect bedroom is no longer a place in which to merely sleep. The humble bedroom has morphed into one of the most important private spaces in a home.
The modern perfect bedroom now reflects the personalities and lifestyles of the occupants. Even guest bedrooms are not spared from chic options, creature comforts and bursts of style.
New Rule #1: Consider the
What can you see from the window? Which rooms are adjacent? Are there
privacy or noise issues? How does the air flow through the room? Are there any
interesting architectural features? Does the room have good natural light?
Depending on the answers to these questions, your perfect bedroom design decisions may take a different direction from what you may have first envisaged.
New Rule #2: Function before
The functionality of your bedroom must work FIRST. You could have the most stylish bedroom in the world. However, if it doesn’t perform the function of a bedroom you will soon be frustrated and dissatisfied.
For example, you may love sheer curtains but if they don’t provide the privacy you require then they are not functional. OR, if your home is near a railway line or noisy neighbours then maybe double-glazing IS an option worth considering.
Measure spaces for all furniture, rugs and wall art; DON’T wing it. I recently redesigned a master suite for clients when it became obvious their architectural plans would not fit a Queen-size bed. True story.
New Rule #3: Layering is the
Start with the biggest items first; floor, walls and ceiling. Decide on a neutral colour palette in whites, taupes, greys or a pastel – cool blues and greens or warm pinks. Then co-ordinate your bedding. This provides the biggest opportunity for impact in terms of colour and texture.
The new rules love a mixture of tones and textures with linen, cotton,
faux fur, velvet, patterns and block colours being mixed with different sized
pillows and cushions. Don’t match; MIX… on the bed at least.
If you don’t want a colourful bed then opt for accessories, such as cushions and throws, with lots of texture but a narrow colour palette – for example, all white, all beige, all cream, all grey.
Amp up the style with knotty wool, tassels, self-patterning and embossed fabrics. High-quality bed and plush accessories add interest without overcrowding the room.
It may seem odd that I’m writing about having a real or authentic home. I mean, it’s YOUR home so it’s totally authentic, right? So why do homeowners hire an interior designer?
Many people hire a decorator or interior designer for different reasons. Often they have no time to do it themselves, even though they want an authentic home that’s personal to them.
However the most common reason for hiring an interior designer is because most people don’t trust their own instincts and ideas. Of course, I don’t want to do myself out of a job because I LOVE what I do.
However, I also discuss with my clients the importance of having a home THEY love. It’s not my role to tell clients what to do. Moreover, my role is to interpret what a client wants in the most functional and stylish ways. And maybe break a few design rules along the way.
Getting Your Authentic Home
The atmosphere or feeling of a room is very important. In addition, this translates to the style and theme of the whole house.
For example, it would seem a little strange to have a minimalist living space but a kitchen that is rustic country or Hamptons inspired.. Instead, aim for interiors, and exteriors, that convey YOUR loves and lifestyle.
Tapping Into Your Neighbourhood
In order to create a real or authentic home, pay attention to the architecture of your home both inside and outside. Take photos of your home, its garden and your immediate neighbourhood.
Walk around your neighbourhood to take in the ‘flavour’ of where you live. Make notes that describe how you feel about what you are seeing. It’s very likely you purchased the home because of the style it’s style, the land and views, or the neighbourhood.
Can you take some of those exterior concepts indoors? This will create another level of authenticity in your home.
Authentic Homes Live
Don’t be afraid to mix styles. For example, if you live in a heritage home don’t feel you have to be a slave to the period. You can acknowledge the heritage whilst creating your own wonderful juxtaposition of styles.
This not only creates a personality-filled home but it’s also very authentic to your loves and lifestyles. As always, love where you live.
Plush Design Interiors is Best of HOUZZ
I Use + Recommend Reality Furniture for All My Upholstery Work