Modern Day Open Plan Living

Hamilton Interiors Modern Day open place

Modern Day Open Plan Living


Open plan living has become a new way of life here in Ireland. And if, well considered and planned, it can provide a light, airy, multifunctional space for the entire family, to go about their individual activities yet remain connected. We here at Hamilton Interiors work with clients who are taking down walls, to open up their space, but also clients adding an extension. Or indeed the New Builds.

While highlighting the mistakes people tend to make, or just have not, given enough consideration too, we are here to advise on our top tips and design tools to create the space which will work for you and the entire family.

Mistakes To Avoid.

Mistake 1 – Thinking you should mix up the flooring,

many clients consider using different materials in 2/3 areas, Nothing will make a room seem more disjointed.

Consistent flooring throughout the space gives a cohesive feel, while the use of area rugs can define a space. And clarify a particular zoon, i.e. Using an area rug under a dining table or in the living room can define the area.


Mistake 2 – Forgetting about zones!!!! Open plan does not mean one zone.

Thinking about the functions you need to incorporate into the space, i.e. kitchen, dining, living, office etc. Is crucial to your design and the end functionality of the space.

There are many tips and design tools you can implement to create distinct areas, as we spoke of above using rugs in the living room section.


You can also define areas with platforms, either a raised step to one area or a sunken area like this sunken living room.


Another tip for zoning a space is using colour in different areas, maybe highlighting the kitchen or a large component of the kitchen like the island.

Also the use of beams to highlight one area.

So the key is to decide on your zones, and then highlight them either through colour, soft furnishings, different levels, ceiling heights or beam, all of these measures work independently or a combination of some of these measure are extremely effective.


Mistake 3 – Assuming the same lighting will work throughout the space.

Lighting can play an important role in establishing the different zones, also in emphasising the function of each space, as in, a pendent over a dining table or an island can have an aesthetic value but the main kitchen area, needs good lighting for the working area, usually recessed lights. The living room section might benefit from lamps for soft atmospheric lighting, also bear in mind in a large space at night, you don’t want to look at open black areas, so some hidden lighting, maybe under/over countertops can create a lovely subdued atmosphere.

See our blog on Lighting.


Mistake 4 – Leaving the space too open, not defining areas so the space is not cosy or inviting.

Clients in recent times are requesting partitions or some type of a division, as they have experienced this feeling in another person’s Open Plan. Sometimes we can divide the space with double sided stoves as partial division. Also partition walls with storage can be very useful.

Another tip is building a partition wall (as below) to mount the TV which can make a space interesting.

So again it keeps the space open but really defines the different areas.


Mistake 5 – Keeping all the materials and textures similar throughout the space , this can make the space feel very mundane.

Be creative-Add texture to different areas, , I enjoy using stone, brick features or even a textured wallpaper on one wall.

Mistake 6 – Not considering the flow of traffic in each area,

this can be a massive pitfall, the designer tip here is A rule of thumb of 1 metre, this is the comfortable space for any walkway but don’t forget, to consider chairs ,when they are partly out from table or bar stools pulled back from the island.

Also, consider if the TV is raised, the couch should be a distance of 2.5 metres, otherwise, an uncomfortable feeling will occur. Choosing the correct furniture size that is in direct proportion to a space is also paramount. If you are dealing with existing rooms and you are knocking walls, get the measuring tape out. If it is a build, mark the furniture out on the floor using masking tape but if you want to get a clearer feel for the proportions, use cardboard boxes to raise the measurements, this is great to give you the 3D impression.

Mistake 7 – Not enough attention to storage,

The kitchen is an obvious one, but in the living section, where to put the remote control, magazines, books, and lap tops etc.?? These are important considerations.

Also when thinking about your electrics, maybe floor sockets under the couch re lamps, charging iPad etc. in your dining area, consider an area for the crystal glasses, candles vase etc.

Storage units can be a great way of creating partitions while serving a useful purpose.


We hope these tips have helped if you are considering Designing an Open Plan living space.



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