How to Layout your Open Plan Living Space

Andrea Bates
Read Time: 6mins

Do you want to get more out of a shared living room and dining room space in your home? Here are some of our top tips on how to arrange your furniture in an open plan living space…  

In many modern homes, these days the living room and dining room are essentially just one big room. This leaves us with a major dilemma. How should this shared space be decorated and what is the right way to arrange the furniture? 

The main problem is that you have one space that serves two distinct purposes. Let’s break down here some of the best ideas that you can explore. 


Consider each space separately

You might want to consider each area / function as separate, particularly when you are planning different furniture pieces. 

This might sound obvious, but it’s an idea that is constantly overlooked. Too many people view the space as one area and get overwhelmed. You can either mentally mark out the borders between the spaces. Or, you can think about using some tape to create areas on the floor. 

Once you have done this, you will be able to plan each space according to how you want to use it. 

Use Large Furniture To Divide The Room 

If you want to create the visual of two separate areas in this shared space, large pieces of furniture will always be your friend.

For example a large sofa can essentially cut the room in half and form a distinct, noticeable line down the middle of the space. 

It’s possible that your space isn’t large enough to place a sofa in the middle and still have room to walk between the two spaces. If that’s the case, then place the table directly behind the sofa to save room. That way you still have two separate areas to enjoy. 

If you are using a table, make sure to add taller items. Something like a lamp will add visual height, ensuring that there is a clear divide between the two areas.


Think about your flooring 

It’s worth exploring how you can make both areas of this shared space stand out with the right flooring choices. Using rugs is a great way to create the perception of two spaces with completely different purposes. 

The right rugs will also add both colour and texture to your space, essentially bringing it to life. But the main benefit is that you can use two different rugs to compartmentalise both spaces and ensure they stand out in the shared room. 

Using Large Artwork And Other Wall Accessories 

Are you looking for more ways to visually separate the space? If so, then you should think about investing in large pieces of artwork. With this type of artwork, you can use the pieces to differentiate the two parts of the room. You should aim to use artwork that is large enough to have presence in each space without throwing off the balance of the room.

If you are trying to anchor the two spaces with artwork, then you should think about using your furniture as a clear guide of what will and won’t work. Essentially, your piece of art shouldn’t be bigger than the sofa that you are using in that part of the room or the dining table that you are using in the other part. 

A good rule of thumb would be using a piece of art that is about ⅔ the size of the largest piece of furniture that you have in your room. Another choice would be to opt for a gallery wall to create the same type of effect. We recommend you create cohesion pulling in the same colours across art and textiles etc. 

Use a freestanding shelving unit

Another way to separate the two spaces would be by using a shelving unit which stretches across the floor space. As well as providing a visual cue, the bookshelf will add some much-needed storage space to the area. You can also use this as a way to make the most of the ceiling space in a room without completely overshadowing all the other pieces of furniture in this area. 

The eye is immediately drawn to an element like this because it stands out from the rest of the furniture. 


Creating a walkway

If you have a large enough space, you can arrange your furniture to ensure that there is room to walk between the two areas. You can use a halfway runner to create the visuals of a true walkway in this space. 

With this idea, you want to leave as much room as possible between the two areas and have plenty of open floor space. This will ensure that the areas do look visually separate.  


Bringing The Two Areas Together

It’s possible that you want to ensure that the dining room and living room space look more connected and form a complete area of your home. If that’s the case, then you might want to choose your colours and shades carefully. 

Connect the areas by repeating the same colours and shades in both parts of the room. For instance, you could match the dining table chair colours to the colour of the sofa and chairs in the living area. This can look visually strong and will ensure that everything feels complete. 

Alternatively, you can also use colours and shades to keep the two spaces completely separate and distinct. A basic example would be using lighter neutrals in the living room space with darker shades in the dining area. In doing so, you can create a yin and yang element to the room design that can look great. The clash in colours will give your room combo a completely contemporary aesthetic that feels fresh. 

Choosing the right layout 

There are various layouts you can explore when arranging your furniture in this shared space. For instance, you might want to design an area of your room that can be both casual and formal in the same area. 

To do this, you need to make sure that you are using the furniture to create two distinct spaces. You can use the recommendation above to achieve this by positioning the back of the sofa as a border between both rooms. 

With enough space to walk through between rooms, you can create a versatile space. Any seating can be pulled and moved into different areas forming two distinct spaces that work well together. 

Another layout worth exploring would be a symmetrical design. Here, you should try and replicate the layout of furniture in both areas of the space so that they have a similar design. When you choose this option, there’s no need to create an aesthetic that separates the two spaces. The symmetrical decor will naturally do this for you. As well as creating a cohesive design, it gives both parts of the room space to breathe and look fantastic in their own right. 

Alternatively, you might want to embrace a layout that provides a cozy, family feel. A big benefit of this is that you don’t need a lot of space. Both the living room and dining room areas can be quite close together.

To achieve this, you can use large, comfortable, pieces of furniture design for relaxation paired with communal dining setup. This will be perfect if you want to create a space where you can entertain a large number of guests, be it, friends or family members. 

You can still separate the space with a large u-shaped sofa that can be positioned at the entrance of the living area. If you start with a piece like this, you can then design other elements of the room around this choice and build out from it. 

More Ways To Separate The Space 

There are a variety of other choices that you can use to separate the two spaces. For instance, you might want to think about using a see-through display unit. These can provide the height needed to separate the two areas of the room while providing more character to both spaces. This can be arranged to sit comfortably behind the back of the sofa and at the side of the dining area. It will add a lot to both parts of your room. 

Alternatively, you could also think about using lighting. Lighting is a great way to accentuate key pieces of furniture. They can also set a distinct tone and ambiance in two different parts of shared space like this. 

For instance, you could use light fixtures that are different shapes in the two parts of the room. Don’t forget, you can also use different shapes and styles of furniture in the living room and dining room to create a similar impact. 

If your two spaces are quite close together, then you can also think about using wood panels behind different pieces of furniture in the living room space. As well as providing an earthy feel it will also ensure that the area seems like a separate room. 

Arrange pieces to maximise your space

If you have quite a small living room/dining room open plan area, then it will be important to make decisions that maximize your living space

To do this, you need to start with the focal point of the room. This could be something like the fireplace or perhaps a large TV. These are pieces that are stationery and likely won’t be movable. You can then position your largest sofa and ensure that it is directly in front of that focal point. 

Once you have done this you can add different pieces of furniture and accessories like coffee tables. If you have a coffee table, it’s important to leave enough space around it so that the room doesn’t feel cramped. 

For your dining table, this can be positioned directly behind the sofa or to one side. This can be moved into the centre when you are using it. 

The colours that you choose will also depend largely on the type of space that you have. If you have a rectangular space, you need to ensure that the colours are coordinated enough for the right visual flow. 

However, if there is an alcove as part of this room, then you can use darker shades. This will create the illusion of more depth within the room. 

Accentuating The Living Space

If you want to accentuate the living space, you need to arrange the dining furniture so it can be overlooked by someone peering through the room. To do this, you need to ensure that you choose subtle design choices and lighter shades. Ideally, you should only have a few pieces of furniture in the dining section and keep as much open floor space as possible. This will ensure that the gaze is immediately drawn to the far more impressive and visually interesting living area. 

We hope this helps you understand some of the best ways to arrange furniture in your living room and dining room combined space. 

If you take the right steps here, you could guarantee that space appears to be grander. You can even use it as a way to impress guests and even wow buyers who might be thinking about purchasing your home. 

Ultimately, with the right layout, you and your family can maximise the aesthetic and practical benefits of your open plan space. Any help you need just shout!  

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