In today’s age where small condos and tiny homes are gaining popularity, every now and then we happen upon clients who ask us how to arrange furniture in a large open room.
While these types of spaces offer many benefits such as ample natural light and a feeling of spaciousness, wide, open-plan rooms can also be quite challenging to decorate and arrange furniture in a way that is both functional and visually appealing.
Whether you’re struggling with an awkward layout or simply overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the space, we hope to provide some useful tips and insights to help you make the most of your open-plan areas. So, sit back, relax, and let’s get into it!
eDesign dilemma: How do we furnish this large, open space?
One of our very first virtual interior design projects was for this couple from Berlin, Germany. They had just signed the lease on a very spacious, but also very empty apartment flat.
As they were moving from a much smaller space, they didn’t have a lot of furniture to bring with them. They would also be renting, so they didn’t need to renovate as much, except for the installation of a few light fixtures and store-bought furniture.
While the flat had one bedroom and bathroom, a separate kitchen, and a hallway connecting everything, our clients both loved and were bewildered by the large, open-plan room that was supposed to serve as the combined living and dining areas.
It was just one big rectangular space, with large picture windows on one side overlooking a nice, landscaped walkway and the neighboring buildings.
Our clients weren’t sure how to fill the space up. They also didn’t know which pieces to purchase just to make the big room feel cozier, more homey, and more welcoming.
They were afraid that if they went shopping on their own, they would just end up with awkward-looking pieces that do not fill up the scale of the space. Also, they weren’t sure exactly how to put the furniture pieces together. They thought they might just end up pushing everything against the wall, or needlessly buying big, bulky casegoods.
Identify any architectural features in the room.
The first step to tackling a huge, empty room, is by identifying any architectural highlights. It can be tough to find the key parts of a big, open room when designing it, but it’s important to do so for a consistent look.
To start, look around and find anything notable, like columns or a high ceiling. Usually, windows that offer a great view also become an architectural highlight. These features can act as a basis for the overall design, and one can decide if you want to highlight or camouflage them.
When highlighting or camouflaging these features, you make a decision to use them as a focal point or not. When highlighting, you can orient most of the furniture to face the architectural feature.
In our clients’ case, the room utilized a very sparse and contemporary design. Despite the large, picture windows, the room was devoid of any moulding or trim that could help determine a particular design style that we could highlight or follow.
This is pretty common in many new apartments or condominium units. So instead of highlighting the windows, we chose to give it a secondary (but still very important) role as source of natural light.
We still wanted to give the room’s occupants a good view of the city; but didn’t need to have all the furniture facing the windows.
Because our clients wanted some semblance of privacy, we recommended draping the windows with both sheer and solid-colored curtains.
Determine what functions or activities will be done in the space.
When furnishing a large open-plan space, it is also important to determine what functions or activities will be done in the space.
For example, if the space is to include a dining area, it makes sense to find a spot for a large dining table and chairs. If it’s also for lounging or watching TV, a living room area with comfortable seating would be added. If the space is going to be used as a home office, desks, chairs, and shelves would be included.
By figuring out what activities will be done in the space, one can create zones or different areas for each function.
When we spoke to our clients, they immediately knew they needed the big room to be a space for:
- lounging, and
Once we’d decided that the windows will not be a focal point, we then decided to create zones, each with their own focal points.
It made sense to put the dining area near the door leading to the kitchen. The living room normally sits near the dining area, as it is where people naturally gravitate after a meal. So we situated it in the spot beside the windows, next to the dining zone.
We were then left with the long expanse to the right of the plan (above) for the home office. There were only two of them using this office space, but they determined they would need seating for resting from work, as well as entertaining work-related visitors.
Clearly define these zones with visual cues.
When designing or decorating a large, open-plan room, it is important to visually define different zones in the space. One way to do this is by using visual cues, such as furniture placement, strategic lighting, flooring choices, and color schemes.
Let’s take a look again at our proposed furniture plan for our clients.
For the living area, we used a big area rug to create a visual boundary and anchor furniture in the seating area. We placed floor lamps next to the TV cabinet, so as to highlight the TV as the living area’s focal point.
We also placed pendant lights over specific zones, such as over the dining table, and over the coffee table in the living area. Lights help distinguish a particular area from other parts of the room.
Notice also in the perspective drawings above and below, that we used lighter colored furniture for the living area, and darker furniture for the dining area. Using different colors or patterns of furniture or decor can help differentiate one area from another.
By using these visual cues, you can create distinct areas within a large space, making it more functional and visually appealing.
Final tips for arranging furniture in a large open room
- Determine whether you want to highlight or camouflage certain architectural features of a space, to determine your room’s focal points.
- Consider creating multiple functional areas in the space to break up the room.
- Select furniture pieces that are of appropriate scale to balance the large space.
- Use area rugs to define zones and create visual interest.
- Arrange seating areas to encourage conversation and movement flow.
- Incorporate accent tables and lighting to add depth and ambiance.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different arrangements until you achieve the desired outcome.
By following these tips, you can create a stylish and functional layout for your large, open room that maximizes its potential.
If you ever need help with arranging furniture in an open-plan space in your home, check out our eDesign services by downloading our free brochure below.