Skip to main content

A to Z for Your Home: Z is for Zones – Creating intentional space in an open floor plan

By August 25, 2015Uncategorized

cover photo.jpg


Maybe you have an open-concept floor plan that feels just a little bit too open and has you scratching your head on where to put the couch.

Or maybe you have a large space that needs to serve multiple functions, such as a basement playroom-gym-TV room.

Perhaps your kids share a bedroom and you need to help them mark their territory to keep the peace.

Whatever the case, the key is to create intentional zones for a specific need or purpose while making the entire space feel harmonious.

Here are some tips to help:

1. Furniture placement: Make rooms within rooms.

When arranging furniture, make sure that seating and flow allow for easy eye contact and conversation. In order to maintain a line of sight, consider using low furniture and bookcases, especially in the center of the room.

The room below feels very open and connected, yet there are separate seating options to meet different moods or situations. The room could comfortably accommodate an intimate gathering or a large group.

two living spaces.jpg

Plush Palate

Here, the furniture clearly defines two separate spaces but the room is tied together by the ceiling and color scheme.

living room seating areas.jpg

Better Homes & Gardens

This room graciously accommodates both a living room and workspace. Careful furniture placement and a consistent color scheme make it work.

eclectiv living with desks.jpg

House Beautiful

These loft and attic spaces serve as great family and kid hangouts. Here, a homework station was created by adding a long desk along the wall opposite the couch.

loft hangout.jpg

Decorating Files

I love the creative use of space in this classic attic conversion. With one side for lounging and reading and the other for game days and movie nights, it’s basically two rooms in one!

 garage loft.jpg

Brine’s Decorating

2. Rugs: Artfully anchor furniture and space.

Well-placed rugs can help anchor furniture and designate different uses in a single space.

In these two examples, the same rug is used in multiple areas to separate the space while maintaining cohesion.

rugs living spaces.jpg



Home Bunch

In this room, the rugs are similar in color with contrasting texture and pattern.

rugs 2.jpg

Kylie M. Interiors

3. Room dividers: Optimize privacy with style.

If your room feels a little too open or you’d like some truly private space, try a fixed or flexible room divider such as a bookcase, curtain, or sliding door.

Here, a bookcase separates the sleeping space in this room, but the open shelves keep it from feeling closed in.

room divider.jpg

The Share Space

In this shared bedroom, I employed a simple white curtain for two sisters who wanted their own space.

shared bedroom curtain.jpg

Sara Eizen on Houzz

Here, classic barn doors with glass panes create a sight and sound buffer while allowing light to shine through.

barn doors with glass.jpg

Chris Loves Julia

How cool is this sliding bookcase?

moving bookcases.jpg

DIY Network

4. Paint: Create zones with color.

As long as the colors play well together and the wall divisions allow, paint is a great way to differentiate space.

In this home, the dining room stands out in chartreuse, which really works against the neutral brown of the family room and kitchen.

paint color.jpg


This trick works really well in shared kids’ bedrooms, too. Paint and coordinated furnishings mark each child’s space, keeping turf wars to a minimum.

paint color bedroom.jpg  paint color 2.jpg

Decorative Bedroom (both)

For this playroom, we kept the open play space bright yellow and painted the book nook a soothing shade of green.

IMG_2166.JPG  IMG_2177.jpg

Sara Eizen (both)

5. Lighting: Differentiate space from above.

Just as rugs serve as an anchor on the floor, light fixtures can anchor space from above.

Here, a large-scale pendant centered over the living room draws attention to the space while a complementary chandelier lights up, and distinguishes, the dining area.

lighting 2.jpg


Here, a lovely vintage-inspired chandelier casts a warm glow over the dining table while clear glass globe pendants provide focused light over the counter and an open feel between the two space.

kitchen dining.jpg


There are a lot of options here, so hopefully you haven’t completely zoned out. Simply put, if you find yourself overwhelmed by a large, open or shared space in your home, first think about how you want to use each area of the room and then let the mood or function of each space show you the way.

Leave a Reply