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26 open plan living ideas for Australian families

Metricon

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.

1. Navy is the hero inside the Berkshire 39 in our Traralgon display home
1. Navy is the hero inside the Berkshire 39 in our Traralgon display home
2. The Merricks MK2 display home in Cowes Victoria mixes light and dark timber for a stunning contrast
2. The Merricks MK2 display home in Cowes Victoria mixes light and dark timber for a stunning contrast

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. Let's look at 26 different open plan living spaces and explores what makes it so popular with Australian families.

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.

3. The open Hamptons kitchen of the Sovereign 54 in Victoria uses green to make a statement
3. The open Hamptons kitchen of the Sovereign 54 in Victoria uses green to make a statement
4. The Vantage 48 display home in Deanside showcases an includes an open staircase in the living area
4. The Vantage 48 display home in Deanside showcases an includes an open staircase in the living area

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.

5. Windows don't just have to look outside like these Venetians that look into the hallway in the Delta on display in Tarneit
5. Windows don't just have to look outside like these Venetians that look into the hallway in the Delta on display in Tarneit

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.

6. The incredible Fontaine in Tallai, Gold Coast, uses open plan living to create a resort like atmosphere
6. The incredible Fontaine in Tallai, Gold Coast, uses open plan living to create a resort like atmosphere
7. An open plan living area with a void on display at the Sovereign 54 in Greenvale, Victoria
7. An open plan living area with a void on display at the Sovereign 54 in Greenvale, Victoria

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.

8. The Metro 32 display home in Doncaster, Victoria uses light tiles to make the space look ever bigger
8. The Metro 32 display home in Doncaster, Victoria uses light tiles to make the space look ever bigger
9. Choose to dine at the bench on the table or outdoors thanks to this simple yet elegant layout
9. Choose to dine at the bench on the table or outdoors thanks to this simple yet elegant layout

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.

10. The dark timber cladding on the roof of the Fortitude in Sheppparton is the focal point of this open plan area
10. The dark timber cladding on the roof of the Fortitude in Sheppparton is the focal point of this open plan area

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.

11. Using timber beams can half open your space to rumpus rooms or offices like here in the Savannah display home
11. Using timber beams can half open your space to rumpus rooms or offices like here in the Savannah display home
12. Open plan living works no matter what your style heres an Australian country theme at the Davenport display home
12. Open plan living works no matter what your style heres an Australian country theme at the Davenport display home

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.

13. The Botanica 36 in Drouin incorporates the outdoor room into the open plan living area
13. The Botanica 36 in Drouin incorporates the outdoor room into the open plan living area
14. High raked ceilings are so on trend right now it makes a big space look even bigger
14. High raked ceilings are so on trend right now it makes a big space look even bigger

Tips for designing an open plan living space

Shape options

Open plan living is all about how you use your space, but not all blocks are equal. Based on the width and length of your block of land, your open plan living space may take on a different shape. The three most common shapes are:

  • Square shape open plan layout
  • L-shape open plan layout
  • Long room open plan layout

The above shapes refer to the kitchen, dining and living space. However, open plan areas can also incorporate outdoor living areas, study nooks and more. It’s important to think about which space works best for you.

15. An L shaped space which can be converted into a square when the outdoor room opens up the Salamanca display home in Emerald Hills
15. An L shaped space which can be converted into a square when the outdoor room opens up the Salamanca display home in Emerald Hills
16. Let plenty of natural light in like the Marion 42 display home in Truganina featuring a large window splash back
16. Let plenty of natural light in like the Marion 42 display home in Truganina featuring a large window splash back

Take advantage of your surroundings

The shape you choose should optimise your view. If you have a luscious garden, beach frontage, or live on a few acres, it’s important to position the open plan living space to take advantage of the views. You don’t want to sit on the couch with your back to the views – or have the dining room facing a fence.

17. The Moritz display home in SA utilises grey and slate tones for a mature interior style
17. The Moritz display home in SA utilises grey and slate tones for a mature interior style
18. The open plan living area at the Delta display home in Strathfieldsaye uses a stylish dark feature wall
18. The open plan living area at the Delta display home in Strathfieldsaye uses a stylish dark feature wall

Keep it low

You should also be conscious of your “sightlines”, which refers to your line of sight through the room. With open plan living, you want to avoid tall and bulky pieces of furniture. Large pieces can make rooms feel small. The whole point of open plan living was to create a sense of openness, so don’t ruin it by adding tall and blocky furniture.

19. We've been adding high ceilings in more and more display home to enhance the feel of our open plan living rooms
19. We've been adding high ceilings in more and more display home to enhance the feel of our open plan living rooms
20. Make sure your open plan living space takes advantage of the best views on the block
20. Make sure your open plan living space takes advantage of the best views on the block

Install plenty of storage options

Clutter is inevitable. Whether you live alone or with a large family, there’s no way to avoid bits and pieces piling up around your home. Open plan living rooms can feel messy very quickly, so you need to think of a way to combat this in the design stage. Take advantage of built in joinery and cabinets with tonnes of storage, so everything has a place. Out of sight, out of mind!

21. Our Meridian display home in Blackwood Park features a split level home with an open plan living space
21. Our Meridian display home in Blackwood Park features a split level home with an open plan living space
22. Open plan living spaces can make an impact the moment you step through the door like in the Grandview display home in Warnervale
22. Open plan living spaces can make an impact the moment you step through the door like in the Grandview display home in Warnervale

Keep it light

Try to allow as much natural light into your open plan living area as possible. Not only is it nice to sit and relax in a room filled with natural light, but it also helps to make your home look larger. Removing shadowy corners enhances open plan living, making it more impressive than it already is. If your block isn’t privy to natural lighting, make sure you install task lighting, down lights, pendant lighting and more… light it up!

23. The Hamptons style Bayville home in Dee Why, NSW, is all about combining textures
23. The Hamptons style Bayville home in Dee Why, NSW, is all about combining textures
24. Smaller floorplans can still incorporate open plan living as seen in the Lovell 23 MR in Narangba
24. Smaller floorplans can still incorporate open plan living as seen in the Lovell 23 MR in Narangba

Enhance with a void

If you’re planning on building a double storey home, you can add a void to your open plan living space to create something incredible. Voids are becoming incredibly popular within home design. When combined with open plan living, you essentially create a mezzanine inside your own home, and benefit from the visual appeal of tall ceilings.

25. The incredible La Pyrenee showhome in Balwyn Victoria features an open plan living space in a French Provincial style
25. The incredible La Pyrenee showhome in Balwyn Victoria features an open plan living space in a French Provincial style
26. The Metro in Calderwood, NSW, has a long open plan living area with a Hamptons design scheme
26. The Metro in Calderwood, NSW, has a long open plan living area with a Hamptons design scheme

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.