Offset an open floor plan with a 'broken-plan'

The trendy open floor plan has been taking the world of interior design by storm recently. With its light and airy vibes, it’s not hard to see why. However, many folks are finding the lack of privacy in an open plan jarring and they still want their own personal pockets of space. Here are eight ways to balance both needs to yield the up-and-coming ‘broken-plan’.

Use a divider or half wall. One of the easiest ways to partition space in a large open area is to bring in a simple screen or room divider. These partitions are available in just about every material, but glass can be used to maintain the transparency of a great room. A tall storage cabinet or bookcase would work as well.

If you’re ready for a more hands-on home project, you can build a half wall to separate space without totally obstructing your open layout. These half-height ledges are commonly seen dividing kitchens and dining areas from lounge areas, but you can use them wherever you see fit.

Use furniture. Dedicating separate seating areas to different activities can also divvy up space in an open floor plan. You can box off a social space by turning armchairs and sofas inward to face each other with a coffee table in the middle. Or arrange furniture around a focal point, such as a fireplace and bookshelf or a TV and media center, to signal what it should be used for.

Roll out a rug. Here’s another furniture trick. Group pieces together on an oversized area rug to outline certain areas. A good rule of thumb is to keep at least the front legs of each sofa or chair on the rug, if not all of them. A rug also adds coziness underfoot, which warms up the sometimes stark look of a vast open plan.

Hang curtains. Although their primary use is to cover windows, long drapes can be hung as a soft divider between the bedroom and other areas. A benefit of using curtains is being able to customize the amount of privacy you desire by drawing them closed or tying them back in a corner. Another bonus? Fabric also helps absorb sound in lofty spaces.

Keep doors open. Many open floor plans have very few interior doors, which is arguably the root cause of their lack of privacy. If you want to maintain a doorless design, but still zone off certain spots, preserve extra-wide doorways to create the illusion of a door while maintaining visual cohesion. Alternatively, you can use glass, pocket or sliding doors that give you control over the amount of openness you want.

Create color contrasts. Break up one great room into multiple mini rooms by giving each area its own color. Treat each space like you would a different room in the house by painting it a different color than the rest of the neutral common areas. This establishes a visual break for your eyes. Paint is definitely a huge commitment though. If you’re a bit color shy, try color coordinating decor, rugs and furniture instead.

Look up. Here are four clever ceiling tricks you can try:

  1. Ceiling lights are generally placed in the center of a room, so you can define certain areas by mounting a standout fixture, like a chandelier, in the middle of each space.
  2. Add a beam or bulkhead across the entire width or length of the ceiling to create a clear line between two spaces.
  3. Embellish the ceiling above a certain area with charming ceiling tiles or medallions and leave the other sides empty.
  4. Install a drop ceiling in an entire area for a dramatic look.

Look down. Lastly, switch up your flooring to create contrast between spaces. Vary the height of two or more areas by constructing a small split-level design. The physical difference will be enough to uncouple the two areas. Alternatively, change the flooring between spaces with carpet in one area and hardwood in another.