The Open Floor Plan: (Tips for) Imagining and Realizing the Space
An open floor plan offers a living space with fewer interior walls and physical boundaries. Interior spaces will benefit from more natural sunlight, greater efficiency, the illusion of more space, and opportunities for multi-functional living areas. To create a good floor plan, it’s important to design interior spaces that flow easily and create continuity throughout the house.
When designing an open plan layout, you must plan the smaller, functional spaces (like individual rooms) within the larger space since there are no interior walls. To estimate square footage for each area, think about the use of the space, the size of your furniture, and the number of people occupying the room. You will need to provide adequate space for comfort and movement. For instance, leaving at least four feet in between your kitchen counter and dining room table will allow diners to pull out their chairs and walk comfortably between the two areas.
Once you have determined square footage for each interior space, determine which spaces need to be near each other. The kitchen needs to be near the dining room, and the dining room needs to be near the living room or a comfortable seating area where guests can gather. Perhaps you a want your child’s playroom near the kitchen, so you can supervise activities while cooking, or your laundry room near the kitchen for added convenience. Your floor plan layout will depend on your wants, needs, and lifestyle.
When planning interior spaces, create furniture groupings within each area that consists of individual furniture pieces, the space around them, and adequate space to access the grouping. For instance, a living room grouping may consist of a sofa, side chairs, and a coffee table while a bedroom grouping may consist of a bed, dresser, and nightstands. Creating furniture groupings will make it easier for you to design your open plan layout.
Public and Private Spaces
When designing public versus private spaces, think about the amount of privacy that’s needed. In your kitchen and dining room area, you may want to keep everything open for better communication with family and guests. In your bedroom area, you may want to build half-walls, solid or translucent partitions, or sliding doors for more privacy.
Locating doors and windows, columns and partitions, counters, and electrical outlets are a major concern in an open plan. With few interior walls and furniture often positioned in the middle of the space, floor outlets may be necessary. To minimize costs, spaces that require a water supply and a drainage line such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and wet bars, should be located close to existing plumbing and sewage lines.
Once you have determined your basic needs and size requirements, bubble diagrams (loose sketches) or online design software can help you develop your floor plan. If you prefer professional help, you can hire an architect or designer to create an accurate, scaled floor plan and set of sketches for your open plan design.
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