Designer Tips | What's that Space?

The open floor plan has become increasingly popular in the recent years.  With the recession sort of eliminating that formal lifestyle where there was a room for everything, it brought in a much more casual trend, homes became more multi-purpose with large open living spaces that could work for many different functions.  The open floor plan home requires less construction because less walls are required, it also allows families to dictate how they use a space instead of being bound to one function, and really encourages "togetherness" by having an area where people can be eating, working, relaxing, and cooking all at the same time.  So, yes, these spaces are great!  But they also require you to figured out how to define the areas that you want to use...which means you have to figure out how to define those areas.  This isn't always easy.

Today we're going to give you some ways that you can define a space for its function in your home.  Some of these ideas may require you to do a little construction while others are just the creative use of furniture and accessories.

The first and easiest way is always a rug.  Rugs have many functions--they add color, texture, help with sound absorption and are much softer to walk on that tile or hard wood, but along with all of that, they will quickly define a space.  There are a couple of things to be careful about when selecting the rug for your space.  First of all, don't get something too small.  You want to make sure that all of the main furniture in the area can at least have the front feet on the rug.  If your rug just floats under the cocktail table, it's actually making the room feel smaller and doesn't leave you anywhere to walk on it and feel the softness under your feet.  Secondly, go with a larger scale pattern.  Rugs with a small pattern feel busy and can make the area feel cluttered.  The larger the pattern, the bigger the space will feel.

The second way to define a space is with lighting.  We love lighting so we're a big fan of this option.  A light over a seating area or a table connects the furniture with the ceiling and sort of points to the space as a unit.  You can go big or small with your lighting depending on your space but just know that it's a very easy way to anchor that area.

If you're ok with a little construction happening, a dropped ceiling is another way to define a space.  Now, you have to be careful--you can't just put a dropped ceiling anywhere, and they usually work best in conjunction with hanging lighting, however they can really be a great architectural feature as well as contribute to defining a space!

Creating a furniture "wall" is another way to define a space.  Not a literal wall but something that suggests a visual wall.  We don't LOVE consoles everywhere but we do love them when they have a function and purpose.  A console behind a sofa does this.  In a great room scenario, especially, a console table can help show where the seating area ends and the dining area begins.  Taller accessories do this too--floor lamps are a great example of this!  Floor lamps create height in an area and also create a sort of wall that divides one space from the next.

Finally, color can define a space.  If you have a great room scenario, you have a big open space that has multiple functions--dining and seating/tv viewing most  likely.  If you use one color in one of those spaces exclusively, you can help point viewers in the direction of the space and give it something that sets itself apart from the rest of the room.  Of course you want your room to flow and feel cohesive but using a specific color in one area and using a different color in the other helps to visually point out where one room ends and the other begins.

So, if you think about it, a rug helps define a space by essentially drawing a line around it on the overhead light defines a space by pointing down to it from the ceiling....color defines a space by setting apart from the rest of the room, and furniture walls define a space by creating a line of demarkation showing where one space ends and the other begins.

Do you have an open floor plan?  Have you figured out a way to define your space that we haven't discussed.  If so, tell us!  We'd love to hear about what you're doing in your home!