You don’t have to be an interior designer to create a beautiful open concept home. While open plans can be more difficult at first, once you start implementing the tips in this post, you’ll gain confidence as your home design comes together.
Soon, all your friends and neighbors will be coming to you for design advice!
While I keep things simple by referring to your home, the tips work whether you’ve chosen a house, apartment, condo, or townhouse.
For the best results, combine the tips in this post with the full Polished Habitat Design Method.
I suggest working through the Design Method worksheets first thinking about your open space as a whole to come up with your overall color scheme and textures, and then go back to break out the functional zones.
Open Floor Plan Decorating Tips
One of the hardest decorating challenges in open concept decorating is creating a cohesive design through the connected spaces
All the photo examples are from our house, so I thought it might help to see the floorplan before we get to the first tip.
There is a clear view from the front door straight past the open dining and kitchen into the living room, so I had to figure out how to make them all work together.
Here’s the 9 tips for decorating open concept spaces!
1. Repeat colors
Choose accent colors that can be repeated in different ways throughout your open layout. I picked Sherwin-Williams Web Gray and used it on the front door, the kitchen island, and on the back wall of the dining room.
While the color changes in different lighting, using the color in different ways helps give all the open spaces some consistency while also letting them feel like unique rooms.
2. Repeat patterns
Whether your style is subtle or bold, patterns and textures add interest to your home and are an important part of your design.
With an open floor plan, you have to think about the whole space when you’re selecting patterns for rugs, window treatments, and pillows. They don’t have to be the same in each room, but you’ll want to make sure anything visible in the same view coordinates.
Like repeating color, repeating patterns can help unite your home with a cohesive style without being boring.
Our laundry room is attached to the garage entry, which is open to our main hallway. That meant whatever we choose for the laundry room makeover needed to coordinate with the open areas of the house.
Although I’ve purchased them all in different years, our new laundry room/entry tile is a very similar pattern to the rug by the back door and our large dining room rug.
Each instance of the pattern is a little different, and you can never see more than two in one view, but the repetition still pulls the whole house together.
3. Use Consistent Flooring
Now you may be thinking that I JUST showed you our laundry room/garage entry tile touching the wood flooring so I must be breaking my own rule.
The laundry room is actually an example of following this rule. Because we were updating the laundry room and it previously shared a tile with the entry from the garage, we had to budget to update that flooring at the same time. Keeping the old tile in an adjourning space would have felt choppy and overwhelming.
As you make future plans for your home, think about how you can unite as many of the open areas as possible with one flooring surface. DON’T be the open house I once attended where I counted 5 different flooring surfaces in one view!
We choose wood to run from the front door through the kitchen, dining room and nook. In retrospect, we wish we would have found the money to continue it into my office, the great room, and our downstairs bedroom as well.
All this said, DON’T be afraid to select different tiles for different bathrooms. As long as they all flow with your overall vision for your home, it’s totally fine to have fun with a variety of finishing options for each bathroom!
4. Use Consistent Wall Paint & Trim
Open concept areas aren’t the space to get creative with lots of different wall and trim paint colors.
Keep the trim one color, and as much as you may be tempted, let the architecture of your house be your paint guide.
If you have one LONG wall that flows through multiple spaces, you’ve got to keep it one color.
I feel your pain on this when you really just want to paint one of the areas. We have a wall in the kitchen that we can’t paint without covering the whole entryway AND stairwell AND room at the top of the stairs.
When choosing a paint for the large open space, be sure to test the samples in each area as they will all have different lighting. Navigate toward a neutral color and add personality to your home in other ways.
It’s not all bad news though, I promise! With most of the walls one neutral color, pick a fun accent color or wall treatment for a smaller defined wall like we did in the dining room.
5. Define Rooms with Area Rugs
Rugs are my FAVORITE way to add style and define open spaces. If your dining area is totally open to the living area, ground each of them with a large rug.
My favorite option is when the rugs look great together but aren’t duplicate copies of each other.
6. Pick a Feature Item that Makes Each Space Unique
We’ve talked a lot about ways to help rooms feel consistent and cohesive. It’s important to have that solid underlying palette because then you can have fun mixing things up to match your personality.
Each space within your open area should have something to draw the eye and help define it as an individual room in the memory of your guest. But it should also be special to you.
You probably already own some amazing things to feature. Ours came together over time and are a mix of DIY projects (the G’s in the living room), art purchased on vacation (Jackie in the dining room), and vintage finds (the auditorium desks in the entry).
If you’re stuck on this one, try brainstorming all the things you love. Whether that be sports, travel, books, or a certain design style, I bet it will help you come up with some creative ideas!
7. Add Warmth to Open Floor Plans
Sometimes open floors plans can feel a little cold. While that’s less likely if you’ve implemented all the other tips, there are a few more things you can do!
Adding plants to your decor always adds warmth and life.
Wood accents will also add warmth to your home. When we added the dining nook shelving, it changed the whole feel of the area in the best way!
Consider adding soft surfaces like a fabric or leather ottoman instead of a hard coffee table to continue adding softness to your home.
8. Select the Right Furnishings
As you select furniture, be sure to check the back of each piece if it’s placement will be “floating” in your room instead of against a wall.
This includes barstools. We tend to look at them from the seat side in stores while we’re judging comfort. In reality, the side you’ll see most often is the back as they are pushed against your island.
9. Add Dimension to Adjourning Spaces
With many floor plans, you’ll find a mix of wide open spaces and rooms or hallways that are attached but not AS open.
I love using those areas to add dimension and interest to our house. For example, the hallway to our bedroom is off the open space between the kitchen and living room. For years, it was just a functional beige box.
Adding a small amount of geometric wallpaper added a custom look full of personality.
The other adjourning place I went bold was my home office at the front of the house. It is a separate room and not visible from the open kitchen and living spaces. However, it has clear french doors so you can see in from the entry.
Just be sure that along with the bold pops, the rooms connect with the rest of your home. In both the hallway and the office, I use white, gray, gold to help tie everything together.
Are you feeling a little more confident with how to decorate an open floor plan now? Let me know in the comments below!