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Kitchen, living and dining: How to make the most of your open-plan layout


Open-plan design in homes breaks down barriers — literally. Since gaining popularity in the 1970s, this modern way of living has revolutionised the way we interact in the home environment.

Rather than the kitchen, dining room and living room being separate spaces, open-plan living removes the walls to create one vast family hub where you can spend time together without feeling cramped or confined.

Gone are the days when one poor soul was segregated in the kitchen to cook dinner while everyone else bundled into a separate living area. Fast forward to the modern interior layouts available today, where you can cook up a storm in an open-plan kitchen while also enjoying the latest Netflix binge along with the rest of the family.

But for all the benefits gained by bringing everyone into the same space, it's vital to perfect your styling to ensure your open-plan layout works in perfect harmony. Here are our tips on the two most essential aspects of open-plan living: zones and space.

Zone out

Even though open space is the goal, in practice, you're still creating individual' living zones' within the floorplan to keep it cosy and functional. For added impact, each living zone should have a focal point — like a feature wall or pendant lights.

You can then create and define your zones using carpets and thoughtful placement of furniture. To carve out the living room, arrange two separate sofas around the edges of one rug. The back of one couch should be facing the kitchen to create a partition. This type of couch placement also helps to make the natural walk-ways you will follow through the home. It's important not to over clutter this space as open-plan living is ruined by having too much stuff.

Your dining table is a hero feature that makes it very clear you're entering an open-plan living space. You can either place another rug in your dining area or create a contrast from the living room by leaving flooring exposed. Positioning your dining table close to the kitchen is a no brainer, but in an ideal world, it will also be near patio doors. That way, you can spill out onto an outdoor entertaining area. A feature pendant light is a great way to make a dining area shine while softening the effect of high ceilings in an open space.

If you have a home office nook, keep it close to the kitchen for regular cuppas and snack breaks, and ideally near a window for good natural light and to help keep you feeling inspired. Do yourself a favour, and keep your back to a distracting TV.

Beyond using rugs, lights and furniture to divide up the zones, don't forget the blank canvas offered by your walls. By splashing specific walls with a lick of paint or stylish wallpaper, you can further draw out and characterise each space according to its respective daily use. For more living room ideas, or to get a look at different kitchen spaces, check out our lookbook here.

Go with the flow

Even though you've marked out individual spaces within your open-plan layout, you still want them to feel connected. If you place furniture away from walls and position the back of sofas towards the centre of the room, you can create clear 'corridors' between individual zones. Doing so makes it easier to move through the space and encourages positive Feng Shui.

Think about repeating signature details within each space that tie the individual 'rooms' together. For instance, if your dining table is oak wood, pick up similar wood tones in your living area's coffee table. Consider using metallic or textural stone accessories throughout to add a pop of luxe.

While it's good practice to have a cohesive, neutral palette, introducing some bright pops of colour or bold patterns provides a touch of personality and character. Circular or oval-shaped side tables, pouffes and dining tables can help soften the angles of a big rectangular box floor plan. As can rounded mirrors and curved floor lamps that reach over individual 'rooms'.

Modular furniture mounted on wheels can be a versatile way to reinvent your space and gives you the ability to switch things up as needed. Entertaining? Great, you can quickly move everything around to provide your guests with more room to party.

If you're looking for more interior design ideas featuring open-plan living, visit one of our award-winning display homes, or check out our style gallery, where you can save and organise all your favourite Metricon home designs.

Alternatively, check out our fantastic open floorplans to see these concepts in action. We're proud to be an Australian new home builder focusing on bringing you open-plan homes. Find us in Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Adelaide.