Newly built homes often feature open floor plans that can present a decorating challenge. We often hear from our clients that they struggle with the size of their open concept space and that it's hard  to visualize how it should be decorated. The area can be quite large, and deciding how to arrange everything can be overwhelming. How do you unify all the spaces? In what way is each space going to be used? How do you make everything flow, feel welcoming, and even cozy?

So we came up with the following tips to help you.

1. Consider the overall space layout.

  • Identify zones, such as eating areas, seating, traffic. etc. Traffic areas are important to keep in mind since they help create and set boundaries and help you identify what size of furnishings and floor coverings you need. Four feet is a good width for a major traffic path.
  • Other important architectural obstructions to account for are door swing directions and door clearances (when doors open). For example, we have seen rugs get caught under the open doors. So it's best to measure everything beforehand.
open space floor plan drawing

To define the family area in the image below, we used an upholstered sofa and two chairs, a textured rug and a beautiful round wood table.

  • Group the sofa and chairs together so that they face each other to make the area feel more inviting and intimate.

Once the zones are defined, you can consider incorporating area rugs. They anchor all the different areas. Calculate the sizes of rugs you need.

After that, you should have a pretty good idea where to place all the major furniture pieces. For your seating, would one sofa and two chairs grouped together work, or would a sectional be a better solution?


2. Think about the overall style, color palette, and finishes.

When decorating an open-concept space, we try to remain consistent with colors and finishes. Your color scheme should unite all the spaces, and you can achieve that by using the same color of paint throughout your space. Make sure the styles of furniture and wood finishes you choose are complementary.

  • Use the accent color in the accessories, throw pillows and rugs.
  • Think about incorporating various textures throughout the space, for example: textured rugs, woven rope chair seats, wood detailing on the furniture, textures on ceramics, etc.

Since it is an open area, you may want to approach it as one cohesive story: is it monochromatic, or is there one main color? Or do you prefer a selection of neutrals with splashes of color here and there?

What is the style you are going for? Keep in mind that many styles can be blended nicely so you don't have to strictly adhere to just one.

Let's not forget your finishes as well. Floors, kitchen cabinets, backsplash and countertops are called hard surfaces. They have a lot of visual volume and need be considered when you think of wood, metal and other finishes for your furnishings. Will it be an organic blend of finishes or a contrasting one?

interior design open monochromatic grey beige kitchen breakfast area stools pendant lights lk design durham nc

For this project, we made sure that the wood finishes for the new dining chairs complement the client’s gray dining set. The beading on the new white chairs is beautiful! For the counter seating, we chose wishbone chairs for their fluid lines, natural materials and airy feel.

grey white beige kitchen breakfast nook brown table chairs metal chandelier potted plant
interior design kitchen white grey black dining table counter chandelier glass shelves

3. The Lighting layer.

This is often left for last or overlooked completely, but lighting is very important for everyday tasks.

If you decided on the furniture placement you know where side tables and lamps will go. Dimmers are a great addition since they help you control light intensity throughout the day in various areas.

It might be a good idea to add outlets to the floor. That's especially relevant for an open-concept space because the walls are usually far away so the floor outlets help you avoid having to use (and hide) long extension cords.

interior design lamp couch sofa side table beige cream pillows rug

4. Mixing metal finishes in your space.

Interior designers hear this question a lot, “How will the finish of our light fixtures work with the hardware of the cabinets and doors?”

While this topic deserves it is own post, you may choose to select one main metal finish and complement it with others in smaller quantities. Just like paint colors and wood stains, metals can have warm or cool undertones, so make sure they don’t clash.

modern gray perforated metal light fixture breakfast nook mirrors

5. Shelf Decor

The bookshelves in this project were styled with a minimalistic approach, using different sizes and textures of ceramic vases and other objects . They were paired with wood sculptures, some beautiful books and personal photographs.

  • Tip: To achieve a curated look, use these shelf items to introduce interesting textures and colors.
  • Carry the colors and style elements over from the other areas of the room.
  • As always, adding a bit of greenery and succulents goes a long way.
bookshelf books two grey candles
bookshelf wooden sculptures wicker basket

We enjoyed curating a collection of ceramic vases for the top kitchen cabinets. Varying in heights, textures and colors, they create a museum-like display.

  • Use a focal point in every space to help define it. For example, a unique furniture item,  a flower arrangement, a mirror, or a grouping of objects.
kitchen shelves white ceramic vase collection

6. Think about the foyer.

Entryway decor doesn’t have to be complicated. Hang up a classic round mirror above a simple console table. Then layer a few accessories like vases, a lamp, and a few books.

  • Add some fresh flowers to add ambiance and brighten up the room (and to delight your guests!)
interior design foyer side table striped vases cut green stems round mirror
interior design foyer side table striped vases cut green stems round mirror

For the awkwardly-shaped space below the stairs, we helped our clients select photographs from their travel adventures:


6. Incorporate your outdoor spaces

You can carry your theme into the adjoining spaces. This screened porch reflects the overall style and feel of the indoor areas. The furniture arrangement accommodates four people for a nice conversation or a morning coffee.

screened porch grey wicker furniture coffee table water pitcher fireplace tv pillows patterned rug
outdoor wicker furniture grey coffee table detail water pitcher fireplace
outdoor grey coffee table detail water pitcher fireplace
grey wicker chair detail

Below are two more examples of spaces where colors (and the general style) were carried from one area into the next:


Whites and blues were the primary colors for this project. It was important to use the same style rugs in both the family room and the dining area because this space was not as large as some others, so the rugs were very close to each other.

A few yellow accents brighten up the overall look. The greenery serves to bring life and freshness into the space.

interior design traditional dining room table black metal chandelier blue rug french doors LK Design

This sitting and dining area in the image below features a dark navy paint color which was used on the focus wall. The color was carried over into the dining space but in smaller quantities.

living room blue wall paint unique abstract art orange accents white sofa couch floor lamp throw pillows coffee table dining room columns

While orange was used only as an accent color in the sitting area, it stands out much more on the upholstered dining chairs.

interior designer modern dining room black table orange chairs octagon mirror statement chandelier floral arrangement

Photo credits: Catherine Nguyen Photography



Hopefully these design tips help you with decorating your open-concept floor space!

But as always, if you need more help and if you are in the Triangle area, schedule a call with us and let's chat about your design challenge in detail.




interior designer Laura Koshel of LK Design Durham NC

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Open Floor Plan Decorating Tips From an Interior Designer