How to: Beautifully zone those large open plan houses.

Today, large, open plan houses are more frequently being favoured over old school homes with separate rooms for every activity. Don’t believe me? Check out all the modern homes being built around you. More often than not, the entertaining, living, dining and kitchen areas will now share the same floor plan with few to no dividing walls. Need another example? How about the trend of converted warehouse homes?

It’s not hard to understand why we prefer homes with open plans: they allow for more light and brightness to enliven the rooms, they also ease circulation for entertaining or family activities. Why should the person be cooped up in a closed kitchen when the kids are drawing on the table, or when something entertaining is on the telly to accompany meal prep? The modern family is one that seeks to deepen the quality of interaction in the short, but precious, time frames that they get to enjoy each other’s company. To counterbalance the fast pace of today’s lifestyle an intelligently planned home can help you better enjoy your interactions and experiences with your home. This is where clever zoning comes in.

Zoning is about creating functioning zones within a larger space to divide up areas and signal different uses for a home. You’ll need to be intelligent about how to zone your rooms to divide up spaces that function accordingly, but also quietly indicate different activity hubs. You make the most of your rest and relaxation time when your home intuitively functions and supports you exactly as it needs to. With zoning, this means your home indicates to your children where they should play, where the adults would like to sit for wines, where people should sit to enjoy meals, or where you retreat to simply read a book and relax. So, first up, you’ll need to be clear about a few things whilst in the planning phase before doing the hard yards to divvy up the rooms.

  1. How will this particular zone function?
  2. How will this zone feel?
  3. Will it need to provide storage?
  4. How do we achieve good circulation from zone to zone?

Once you’ve decided upon these preliminary factors, you can move forward and map out the space for the placement of furniture. Living rooms can be zoned around large furniture items such as a couch sealed in by a beautiful rug. A dining table will always indicate the dining area. You can add to this with a single or pair of free-standing buffets or cupboards for dinnerware. Storage units are also great for zoning. I once created privacy for a dining area by sticking two matching bookcases at the end of the rug specified for the TV and couch. That way, if people were to watch a movie or show, you could still work or have breaky with your newspaper at the dining table without feeling too distracted. If you’re encouraging separate zones for several conversation pits to take place, perhaps cluster different arrangements of chairs, armchairs or couches in groups across the room.

Zoning isn’t hard to do. A little bit of thought will go a long way in helping you make the most of your home. Just remember that everything you buy and place should contribute to the room both functionally and aesthetically. Design around you and how you live, but don’t ever forget to celebrate your style too.