open plan living

Open Plan Living

Open plan living has become a popular option for modern interior design. Turn on any home renovation show and you’re likely to see the host knocking a wall between the living room and foyer or opening up the kitchen onto the dining room. While traditional Irish homes feature closed off rooms to preserve heat, more and more contemporary houses are opting for spacious open plans. 

If you love the airy, inviting look of an open plan living room, you’ll want suitable furniture to match. Read on for our guide on the best pieces to bring modern style to your open plan space.

Get in the zone for different functions


An L-shaped couch like the Glow chaise would be a perfect pick to section off your ‘living room’ zone. Using a bold colour can also help to break up your floor plan in eye-catching style.

Just because you have an open plan living area doesn’t mean you need one vast, open space that takes up the entirety of your home or ground floor. Think about your space in terms of the traditional rooms — living room, kitchen, dining area, and so on — and imagine invisible walls separating them as you design. Use area rugs or different wall colours to create these zones and break up the space. 

You can also utilise your furniture to separate an open plan living room for each different purpose for which you’re using it. A kitchen island can break up the kitchen / dining area, while you can use a long sofa or an L-shaped couch to create a cosy living area nook that’s more intimate than a wide open space. 

Light up a room in sections as needed

Pendant lighting like the ones hanging over our Brentwood dining table, are a great option for open plan rooms.

Because open plan living is all about a big, interconnected space, choosing the right lighting is definitely a priority. Realistically, you won’t be able to light up the entire space with any one light, so the best method is to opt for a mix that is suited for each zone’s purpose. This will also help to create a cosy and intimate feel in each area. Choose overhead pendant lights for the kitchen area, then an array of table and floor lamps for the living area. 

You may want to have overhead lighting that goes across the whole open plan living area so you can light up the entire space at once. However, ideally, install the lighting so you can turn on only some sections at a time so you can brighten up only the space that is in use. 

Keep walkways clear and furniture out of the way

In addition to fully open plan layouts, you can also have ‘broken plan’ designs with partial dividers as pictured here with our gorgeous Windsor Velvet carpet range, but it’s still important to keep clear pathways between the areas. 

If you’re opting for open plan living, you probably have a busy and bustling home. Maybe you want to be able to keep an eye on your kids in the living area while you’re cooking in the kitchen, or maybe you’re a frequent party host and you want guests to be able to chat and mingle across the whole space. 

Whatever your reasons for open plan living, you will want furniture that offers sleek style but stays out of the way. Slimline sideboards are an ideal way to add storage and space for displaying photo frames or trinkets, while a narrow TV unit paired with a wall-mounted television offers subtle style and functional appeal. A large sofa is a good option for breaking up the space, as mentioned above, but for additional seating, opt for pieces that are easily movable so you can set them wherever needed. 

Divide up a room with accessible storage

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This living room from Decoist uses an open display unit to divide a room. Get the look with our Soy bookcase

Because open plan living lets you see all of your ‘rooms’ at once, you definitely don’t want to have too much clutter, so choosing the right storage is important. You can also use your storage options to break up the open plan a little bit. If you have a sofa separating the living area from the dining space, put a narrow console table or sideboard up against the back of it.

Open back bookcases are also a fantastic way to divide the area — you can look straight through them so it doesn’t close off the different sections of the floor plan, and you can also access the items stored there from either side. 

If you are opting for wall-side storage, choose vertical options rather than low, horizontal pieces. This will extend the look and feel of your space and make your ceilings feel higher, enhancing the airy vibe of your open plan area. 

Choose multifunctional pieces for a multifunctional space


A few fabulous options that can easily serve as both dining chairs and everyday seating: (clockwise from left) Alice accent chair, Reddick armchair, Artisan dining chair, Umer carver chair, Honolulu dining chair

Ironically, one of the best tips for small-space styling is also one of the best tips for a large, open plan space. Because your open plan living area will encompass multiple functions — living, dining, maybe even home office space — you can also choose furniture that will be able to serve multiple functions as well.

As mentioned above, seating options aside from your main sofa can be ideal for repurposing across the floorplan. For example, carver style dining chairs, with their cushioned seats and often-padded arms, can be as comfy for living room seating as they are for mealtimes. 

Moveable pieces can also bring multifunctional appeal to open plan living. Consider a kitchen island that can be shifted into the food prep area to serve as counter space, then pushed to the dining area and paired with bar stools for eating, or a modular sofa that can be reconfigured as needed to accommodate different seating arrangements. 

Add cohesive appeal with matching accents across zones

A few of our favourite accessories, available in store. Consider purple or chrome details across your open plan setup to create a coordinated look.

The easiest way to ensure a coordinated look across your open plan living area is to utilise a neutral colour palette that will look great in dining, kitchen, and living areas alike. However, you don’t want to run the risk of a stark, cold, white space that feels like a dentist’s office, so make sure to inject plenty of personality! 

Choose a few accent colours to use in different ways across the zones of your open plan space — match throw pillows on the sofa to the upholstery of your dining chairs, or even paint a bold accent wall and use it to inspire accessories across the zones, or even repeat the same colour in larger pieces (match your sofa to your kitchen backsplash, for example). You can also coordinate across your open plan area with matching photo frames or wall art on opposite walls that will connect both sides of the space. 

Open plan living is ideal for contemporary living thanks to its connected, multifunctional design that ties together all the facets of busy family life. At Corcoran’s, we can supply the materials for top-to-bottom renovations from flooring to furniture and everything else you could need for a fabulous open plan space. Get in touch today or shop now in store or online and create a perfectly coordinated open plan home. 

Lauren Mateer

Lauren Mateer

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