How to Establish Boundaries in an Open Floor Plan
While the airiness and visual freedom created by open layouts has been popular the past few decades, homeowners are now trying to find ways to create separation, whether to minimize noise or for more privacy. Here are several easy ways to build those boundaries:
When it comes to separating areas in your home, using furniture is the right place to begin — especially since it’s free. One simple approach is to turn the backs of couches and chairs away from the rest of a space. This gives a clear signal of a separation. In fact, one of the most powerful ways to rework an open layout is to simply rearrange your furniture to create smaller intimate pockets.
For example, if your living room is adjacent to your dining room, your sofa and chairs should have their backs to the dining table. In addition, adding tables or shelves behind furniture is another way to create division. The more height you add to them through accessories and other items placed on the surface, the more of a visual barricade you’ll have. Lamps, vases and stacks of books are all ways to create height.
Rug placement is another effective way to visually separate an area. As a bonus, they also soften a space and amplify your decor. In addition, rugs can reduce noise, which is a positive when an area is used for multiple activities. One of the most important aspects about choosing a rug is size. At a minimum, your main piece of furniture should fit on the rug. If you’re uncertain about rug styles, consider finding one that brings a pop of bold color to the area so it has a distinct personality that defines it from the rest of the space.
If you’re unsure about the separation or just need to divide your space for a limited amount of time, consider this low-commitment solution. Not only do folding screens create division, they can also bring color and pattern to a room. Plus, they’re easy to move so you can relocate them to other areas of your home or fold them up and take them out altogether when you’re ready to open your room up again.
Using open bookcases to divide areas are ideal because they serve two purposes: storage and separation. Just be careful how you decorate the shelves. Try not to overfill them and instead leave some open spots for light to trickle through. This approach will also serve to highlight the items chosen for the shelf.
In addition, your shelving unit should be sturdy and well-made. This is not a place to cut corners because shoddy shelving will tip easily. Be sure to secure a freestanding bookshelf being used between areas by anchoring it to the floor, a pony wall, or the ceiling.
Solid shelving units can also be used. They will provide a more distinct separation. Two solid bookcases can be placed back to back so that storage is available on either side. The back of a solid bookcase can also be used to hang a piece of art. A lower unit is a good idea if you prefer keeping some visual openness.
Curtains aren’t just for dressing windows, they can be used as a luxurious room divider as well. It’s an option that will heighten a room’s atmosphere and create softness. Customized curtains are most likely the best solution since there isn’t a standard size for using them in a room application.
As for fabric, opaque selections will provide a more absolute barrier than sheers. Sheers are available in a range of light-filtering options so you’ll be able to choose the right level of brightness for your particular room.
For a sophisticated way to separate a room, consider a chic fixed screen divider. This is also a way to include an artistic element in your space. Be sure to take into account any surrounding architectural or design elements when choosing a divider so that you select an appropriate color, pattern and material. Your screen should feel deliberate, so that the divider seems like it was always there rather than an afterthought.
Keep in mind that less dense patterns on your screen divider will allow you to see more of the next space. For this reason, it’s important to really understand how the two spaces will be used so you can pinpoint your divider needs.
Size is also important for dividers, as it affects accessibility and comfort. For openings between spaces that are considered adequate, the average measures between 42 and 48 inches wide. You don’t want your divider to cut into those pathways.
Plants do a lot for a home when it comes to providing life and color. But plants can also be used as a visual barrier between spaces. Large leafy trees, such as a ficus, or even hanging plants and indoor planter boxes, are great ways to outline a boundary, while also maintaining an open sightline.
The perfect solution for kitchens that feel too open to adjacent rooms is to invest in an island. A kitchen island is a physical barrier that will help deter guests or family members from coming into the kitchen and getting in your way. In short, it keeps the cook on one side and other people on the other. Adding counter stools will further emphasize the boundary.
For an option that is less permanent, try adding a kitchen island on locking casters so it can be moved out of the way as needed.