3 great designers agree on this clever open plan layout trick


The appeal of an open plan living space is understandable: this layout is admired for its contemporary aesthetic and light and airy qualities that remain sought after in all types of homes. However, it’s not uncommon for open space owners to sometimes want to flirt with a more fragmented and zoned space – and when the time comes, it’s difficult to completely transform the layout of your home.

So rather than giving up your open living room ideas for good, it is better to follow the joint advice of three great designers who agree on the same efficient layout tip. Their solution? Strategically placed decorative rugs.

Using area rugs to break up your open space – the designer-favorite solution

Open-plan living and dining area with rug

(Image credit: Foley&Cox / photo by Bjorn Wallander)

“When designing with open floor plans, it’s best to divide the space with area rugs. This creates a definition for each section and gives the impression of being in separate rooms”, explains Rozit Arditi, director of Arditi Design (opens in a new tab). And she is not alone in her suggestion.

“When designing with an open plan, you can use furniture and rugs to create separate spaces inside. The rug is a great starting point, as it defines the boundaries of a specific area,” adds Elizabeth Sesser, studio director at Ike Kligerman Barkley (opens in a new tab).

This solution gives the impression of separate rooms, whether you want to interrupt your open kitchen ideas to create a boundary from which you cook and dine – or separate yourself from your workspace when the day is done.

Open-plan living and dining area with rug

(Image credit: Ike Kligmern Barkley / photo by Darren Bradley)

While many rug ideas can differentiate areas of your space, Michael Cox, director of Foley & Cox (opens in a new tab)recommends using “two area rugs (one solid, one striped, or patterned) to instantly define areas in an open plan.”

Keep furniture as a “natural barrier” in your space

To further divide your open plan, designers all urge you to make smart use of large pieces of furniture, whether you choose a double-sided bookcase or an ornate room divider that instantly converts the room.

“Using larger pieces of furniture like a double-sided bookcase or a decorative screen can then help to further divide the space while still providing some privacy from one area to another,” says Elizabeth. While Michael suggests these rooms act as “natural barriers” that can help delineate rooms in an open space.

Open-plan living and dining area with rug

(Image credit: Foley&Cox / photo by Tim Lenz)

‘Another trick is to separate the “rooms” with a console table or sofa table to divide the space. I also designed open floor plans with multiple couches to help delineate areas for reading and watching TV,” Rozit adds.

Whether you start with the rug trick or take it a step further and interrupt your open space with large pieces of furniture, you can rest easy knowing that these tips are fully designer-approved and instantly effective.

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