The Secret to Decorating an Open Plan Living Space

The popularity of open plan living has made my job as a designer that bit harder. Small rooms with purpose have boundaries and constraints that ironically make styling decisions easier. Open plan living whilst being spacious and social, can be difficult to decorate just right. Large open areas can end up looking a little chaotic, feeling busy and noisy and while this may sound crazy, the secret to open plan living is to divide the large communal space into smaller more intimate zones.

The very best spaces unfold gently, beckoning the eye and leaving something to the imagination. Introducing a little bit of mystery creates an inviting curiosity that welcomes you in and urges you onward…

So how does one accomplish this in an open plan living space you ask? I have a couple of ideas…

Use Division and Make your Space Appear Larger.

Ironically there’s an increased sense of space when the eye is taken on a journey so if at all possible, introduce something to partially hinder your ability to view the entire room at once.

Introduce something to partially hinder your ability to view the entire room at once.The division doesn’t have to completely block your view, just enough that you want to see past it.

Introduce beautiful fabric as curtains with a clever track system.Introduce beautiful fabric as curtains with a clever track system.

See through furniture interrupts your view and provides storage. Win, win!See through furniture interrupts your view and provides storage. Win, win!

A double sided fireplace will divide and heat your open plan living space!A double sided fireplace will both divide and heat your open plan living space.

Glass walls allow natural light through whilst still creating division.Glass walls allow natural light to shine through whilst still creating division.

Now if you are like me and your space is really too small for any of these options, there are still some designer tricks that can help divide and distinguish different areas within an open plan living zone.

Create a Sense of Enclosure and Define the Purpose of each Space.

A large pendant draws the eye and defines the dining space.Lighting can act as a focal point and distinguish different areas within your space. Here, a large pendant draws the eye and defines the dining space.

Use a rug and coffee table to say 'Put your feet up here!'Rugs create definition and visually mark the dimensions of each zone. Use a rug and coffee table to say ‘Put your feet up here!’

Use furniture placement to define your spaces.Furniture placement can create corners and boundaries within a room.

Use paint or timber as a ceiling treatment to define a zone within an open plan space.Consider a ceiling treatment to confine and suggest the edges of a specific area.

All images via Pinterest

Often, there are heaps of different ways an open plan space can be arranged, and its fun to move stuff around and restyle depending on the season, occasion or just your mood at the time!  So if you like to keep your options open, stick to free standing furniture and clever styling so you can shake it up whenever you feel the need…

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Modern Meets Farmhouse Vibe of Jenni Kayne

Jenni Kayne is a young American designer and mother whose decorating ideas inspire me. I love the way she describes her style as comfortable yet chic, simple yet refined and sophisticated yet liveable and her airy Californian home is so beautiful, I had to show it to you.

Soaring glass windows and beautiful beams of reclaimed barn wood create a grand entrance and it just gets better from there…

Rustic beams frame the grand entrance of the home of Jenni Kayne

Rustic beams frame the grand entrance of the home of Jenni Kayne

Neutral furnishings beneath a pop of colour

Neutral furnishings beneath a pop of colour

Stone, timber, leather and linen

Stone, timber, leather and linen

Imagine the dinner parties...

Imagine the dinner parties…!

Simple white, timber, brass, glass and a splash of green

Simple white, timber, brass, glass and a splash of green

Everything you need to serve a meal behind floor to ceiling glass doors

Everything you need to serve a meal behind floor to ceiling glass doors

And the playroom is so real, not precious and cleverly creative

I can feel the joy in this room!

All images via onekingslane.com

This home is so real, not precious and I can feel the modern meets farmhouse vibe. I can imagine sitting fireside, cosy and warm or picture friends and family collecting their own plates and glasses from the cupboards ready to wine and dine late into the evening around the enormous dining table. Such a timeless and inviting home, I can almost here the music and the laughter from here…

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Military Green is my Colour Prediction for Spring 2016…..

Is anyone else noticing that from the cat walk to casual classics, military green is appearing everywhere? In varied shades from dark olive to soft army green and teamed with all the popular neutrals; black, white, grey and tan it’s popping up all over the place! And where fashion goes, interior design follows. I am predicting that military green will become the new must have dark interior colour as we move into spring this year…

Spring 2016 Trend Military Green

Image via 5forecastore.fashion

Military Green Works with all the Current Interior Trends…
Natural Selection

All things natural are on trend right now.  Indoor plants, handcrafted decor such as macrame decoration and chunky knitted throws. Think raw, worn and aged timber finishes, stone, paper and linen. In this setting military green makes for a perfect on trend accent colour that brings the outside in.

Scandi Style

Nordic interior design is here to stay with its abundance of natural light, space, and simple, well-designed furnishings. Imagine dark green as a paint colour creating a woodsy backdrop for typical Scandi finishes such as hides, fur, leather, linen, cork and raw timber.

Military Green Interior Inspiration

Bleached White with Dramatic Black

The black and white combination is a classic that will never go out of style, but for those of us that can’t live without colour, soft or faded military green as an accent can add depth or subtle interest.

Boho Beauty

Free spirited Boho is always an eclectic mix of pattern, texture and colour including brick, orange, amber, mustard, green, light aubergine, deep red, and chocolate brown. Military green slots easily into this extensive mix with its slightly grunge tones.

Bring Home Military Green

Lazy Luxury

If you love an opulent and luxurious interior, military green works here too. Think rich materials such as velvets, satins, and silks, contrasting with woolen felt, concrete, and flannel. Heavily influenced by history, portraits and still lifes are the perfect addition as large wall art or on smaller objects such as trays and paperweights. Metallic favourites sit flawlessly alongside all colours deep and mysterious like dark army green, burnt browns, murky magenta and deep blue.

Contemporary Cool

Angular geometry and artfully painted effects such as watercolor or colour gradients are still featuring heavily in contemporary design. Transparent is cool too because it creates visual space, so metal wire furniture, lucite and glass are enormously popular contrasted with textured materials such as a felt and wool. Military green has the ability to bring this style back down to earth.

Military Green is my colour prediction for Spring 2016

All Images via Pinterest

Military green has attitude, it’s strong yet safe, cool but not cold and is anchored to the outdoors. No matter your style, you can sneak it in somewhere…

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Stuck for Styling Inspiration? Tell a Design Story…

I have said it before and I will most likely say it again; I adore a space that tells a story… and by story I don’t mean an actual novel, more like a design story.

There are times when I get stuck for styling inspiration, so I conjure up a story to inspire my choices and keep me on track. I’ve prattled about how to make your own stuff stylish and using a quote to inspire room design, but I am here to tell you that styling inspiration can be found anywhere…

There are times when I imagine the story of a destination such as a snow chalet in Aspen or a beach shack on the Californian coast. Other times an occupation like a photographers loft or stylists studio.

Californian Coast Design Story

Maywood surfboard, Maywood / Drifter Print, Lonely Sea / Paradise Awaits Cushion, Art Club Concept / Mirror, IKEA / Rhapis Palm, Urban Home Republic / Table Lamp, Beacon Lighting /

Snow Chalet Design Story

Table Lamp, Freedom / Leather Tray, Pottery Barn / Glass Hurricanes, Pottery Barn / Side Table, Freedom / Fur Throw, West Elm / Hide Cushion, Freedom / Faux Hide, Kmart /

Every now and again the story surrounds a person and I visualise cowboy cool or boho babe. There are even times when I channel food or favourite cafes; coffee and cake or wine and cheese. And music; rock n roll and Indie or alternative. I could go on but I am sure you get the idea!

Rock n Roll Room Design

Crystal Skull, Dan Murphys / Watercolour Artwork, Kmart / Water colour Cushion, Kmart / Arm chair, IKEA / Woollen Throw, FreedomBrass Stool, Pottery Barn / Pendant, Beacon Lighting / Candle, Target /

Rustic Boho Design Story

Pendant, Domayne / Chair, IKEA / Blanket, Kmart / Fur Throw, Urban Home Republic / Cushion, Pampa / Woven Wall Art, Freedom / Rug, Pampa /

The best homes telling the story of who occupies the space. Homes shouldn’t look decorated, more like collected. A collection of the things that you love. So when you’re stuck for inspiration, focus on your favourite things and use them to tell your design story. And while plenty of these stories have been told before, your interpretation hasn’t!

You don’t need a million dollars or a heap of new stuff, when your story is about things that you love, chances are you have some of it already. Then it is just about pulling the look together and confidently creating a space you love with furniture placement, layers, textures and vignettes. Should you need a hand, I would love to help! You can contact me here….

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