Interior design tips for open-plan spaces

Renowned interior designers reveal their secrets to successful open plan schemes

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interior designer kelly hoppen

Open plan living room with blue rug by Jennifer Manners

You can use rugs to help create different zones in an open plan room. This Maze II rug, in Blue/Ivory, in handwoven New Zealand wool, H180xW240cm, is £1,080 from Jennifer Manners

Clever lighting

julia kendell

‘It’s essential to consider lighting for an open-plan space more carefully in order to create a comfortable and warm environment in which to relax,’ says TV presenter and interior designer Julia Kendell (

‘The larger the space, the more thought needs to be given to zoning and creating smaller, intimate spaces. Think about the different moods you wish to create and how your eye will travel around the area. Accent interesting elements around the room, linked to one, dimmable circuit, and add in appropriate task lighting. Use fittings at different heights – floor-level, wall up or downlights, and ceiling lighting – to produce an interesting and well-balanced scheme.’

Creative colour planning

natalia miyar

One of the simplest ways to make an impact in an open-plan space is by being clever with colour. If the walls are decorated in neutral shades throughout the space, then use accent colours on your furniture, artwork and accessories to add interest.

‘A unifying colour scheme paired with vibrant artwork will add sophisticated depth to a room,’ says Natalia Miyar, design director at Helen Green Design. ‘Well-curated accessories will unite the space, giving a more cohesive feel and adding texture, while soft furnishings, such as rugs, will add warmth while giving the area individuality.’

Flexible flooring

jennifer manners

Using flooring to highlight zones within an open-plan space is one way to make it feel more homely. You can choose different floor surfaces for different purposes – such as tiles in the kitchen and wooden flooring in the living room – or make a statement with one coherent surface throughout the space.

‘In an open-plan space, use several geometric rugs to create different zones while still retaining a coherent narrative with the flooring itself,’ says interior designer Jennifer Manners ( ‘Scale is especially important here; the key to success is mixing larger-scale patterns with smaller-scale ones.’

Featured image: This scheme by Helen Green Design uses soft furnishings, lighting, furniture and accessories to create a sophisticated, unified open plan space, but with clear zones for different functions