Making Use of an Open Floor Plan
The open floor plan is a spacious, informal interior space that connects with other areas of the home. In most typical open floor plans, the living and dining room combine into a great room space that flows into the kitchen area. Without walls separating rooms, the open design is a visually appealing large space, with design and furnishings that complement each other and seamlessly flow between each other.
Open floor plans were once popular in select geographic regions and with certain types of buyers. Now, open floor plans have become highly desired living spaces, particularly in loft buildings, all across the country and with every buying segment. Separate rooms have been replaced with flexible, open spaces that offer fluidity, and the look & feel of spaciousness.
The focal point of the open floor plan is the great room, an area that combines living and dining room spaces that are in sight of the kitchen and create a large, multi-use area that can be utilized in a number of ways and that offers flexibility in both function and design.
First in importance is figuring out what is already in place, because unless you’re building from the ground up, your space will come together within an existing framework. So knowing the layout of the space with regard to the locations of doors, windows, electrical outlets, columns or partitions will help you plan out the overall makeup of your open living space.
You’ll want to know where your plumbing, gas, and sewage lines are located. For kitchens and bathrooms that require the use of water, drainage and disposal, they will need to be located as close to existing lines as possible — not only from a cost perspective but also a construction perspective.
Organizing your open floor plan is a matter of distinguishing functional areas from the larger space. Determine the square footage for those areas to help with furniture placement and design. Also consider the size of your furniture pieces and the number of people that may occupy the area. You’ll want to allow for the maximum ease and mobility of people to walk throughout the space and not feel crowded.
For example, with a large open floor plan, you might choose to install double kitchen islands to maximize prep space and eating space. The second island can act as a transitional fixture between the dining area and the kitchen. It’s natural that you would want to create adjacent space to keep these rooms near each other, but also to allow for seating that’s comfortably close, yet allows for people to move around easily.
Most open living spaces are organized in four basic ways: linear, grid, axial, and central. Most homes encompass a linear or axial organization. Linear means that zone sizes and shapes can be different as long as they follow along the straight lines of the space.
When you have your floor plan ready and are setting up furnishings, remember to place furniture so that it allows for social interaction and for people to circulate easily from one area to another.
If you decide on remodeling to create or update an open floor plan, remember that you can get expert help and guidance from your design team. They can create scaled drawings to help you visualize the finished space and even help with choosing the right furnishings to make it all come together.