Storage for Open Floor Plans

Love open floor plans but worried about how to include practical and beautiful storage? Worry no more: These homes offer trendworthy, family-friendly options for living spaces that work seamlessly together.

Everything In This Slideshow

  • Use Furniture to Establish Storage Zones

    In open floor plans, it's often tricky to delineate one space from another -- which means storage intended for one function can easily spill into another. Strategic placement of furniture and accents can help: Use rugs of different patterns to indicate a visual shift, as well as sofas grouped into conversation units to indicate another. And to minimize visual clutter, trim down the odds and ends stored and displayed in an open floor plan -- here, just a few select items on side and coffee tables.

  • Eliminate Upper Cabinets in Adjoining Spaces

    There’s a balancing act in any open floor plan between storage and hewing to the connection between spaces. When a living space flows into a kitchen, it’s best to eliminate any uppers that might block the view -- here, over the peninsula that divides the two areas. Instead, opt for extra cabinets in an island or closed storage that faces the living space.

  • Make Accents Moveable

    Part of any good storage is its flexibility, and that's especially true in open floor plans. Even simple accents like this tray can make it easier to move things from room to room, or to stash odds and ends if needed.

  • Get Creative with Doorways

    In some open floor plans, there are still marked transitions from one space to another. Those offer a good opportunity to include living space storage, especially around and over doorways. This expansive shelf unit isn't overly cluttered with items, making it less likely to overwhelm the room.

  • Turn a Wall into Storage

    Located out of the main traffic flow, walls of storage are a great way to add shelves, drawers, and doors to an open floor plan without impeding the views from living room to other spaces. Consider dividing yours by threes with visual tricks or material shifts -- here, a black trim piece and open shelves -- in order to offer visual variety. If you can, plan space for space-hogging electronics in that wall of storage in order to keep from needing furniture for TVs, DVD players, and the like.

  • Add Storage That’s Not Visually Heavy

    Light and airy is how people often describe open floor plans, and those adjectives should apply to storage, too. Try lighter hues for color choices and thinner materials, or abandon fussy details such as trim in favor of clean lines, as with these niche-perfect options that seem to cantilever out from the wall.

  • Make Storage Pretty

    If you have an open floor plan, you can generally see a lot, no matter where you are in your house. That also means you have to be more thoughtful about how your storage looks -- sturdy wooden shelves in favor of plastic bins, pretty painted cabinet doors instead of temporary carts. Here, a mix-and-match approach to kitchen storage transforms open cabinets into display spots for charming, colorful pieces of oft-used dishware.

  • Be Thoughtful About Storage Height

    When you’re adding storage to open floor plans, it’s important to be cognizant of how quickly doors, drawers, and cabinets can overwhelm a room, especially if they reach from floor to ceiling. Instead, consider stopping your storage short of ceiling height; you’ll gain loads of organizing and stashing spots while still allowing your floor plan to breath.

  • Try Flexible Furniture

    Furniture that does or stores more than one thing is a practical addition to open floor plan storage. That includes side tables with two shelves instead of just one or coffee tables with drawers and multiple shelves that rolls. Try hidden-storage ottomans, which work for extra seating in a pinch, too.

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    Spice Up Details

    Living in an open floor plan doesn’t eliminate the need for practicalities -- storage among them. There are HVAC grates to work around, as well as the more aesthetically minded desires of wall display. The best storage helps to solve multiple problems, much like this wall unit. Bigger-than-normal vertical trim pieces offer slim but creative spots for small-scale pieces, while decorative ceiling details hide air return units.

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    Build in, Not Out, of Walls

    Storage in open floor plans doesn’t have to be deep to be useful. If you’re worried about pushing into the room with storage units, think about going the opposite way and carving narrow niches or units out of space between wall studs. Here, TV and media storage isn’t very deep but offers enough space to organize and hide multiple pieces.

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    Integrate Storage with Design

    Storage in open floor plans should never be an afterthought, but an integral approach to design decisions. Here, in order to include a family-focused work/homework station, the homeowners carved out a U-shape nook, chock-full of drawers, doors, and open shelves. It's a casual space that contributes to the retro-contemporary feel of the house with a patchworklike wallpaper grounded by white cabinets.

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    Hide Storage Nooks if You Can

    The whole purpose of an open floor plan is to establish uninterrupted sight lines. But sometimes corners and nooks are OK to include and use to hide storage. Here, a short wall offers a good spot for the fridge in the kitchen area, but left a dead corner next to a door. Instead of wasting it, the homeowners created a pretty desk spot outfitted with built-ins that match the rest of the open floor plan’s traditional details.

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    Turn Awkward Areas to Your Advantage

    Open floor plans prevent lots of room divisions -- a disadvantage for messy areas like mudrooms, which often beg to be closed off from the rest of the house. Instead of scrapping this necessary area entirely, look to your open floor plan for unwieldy spots that can serve storage purposes. Here, a corner got a slightly rounded storage unit, with just enough space to serve as an entry way drop for kids and adults.

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    Use Storage as Transitions Between Rooms

    How open your floor plan is tends to be up to you and your needs. In this home, there’s a distinct feeling of openness, even with the central storage unit that opens up to doors on both sides. It’s a good example of how to use furniture as a way to ever so slightly divide rooms without cutting them off from one another.

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    Establish Continuous Banks of Storage

    In open floor plans, it's OK to continue storage from one room to the next. It's a way to establish consistency in details. Here, trim and cabinets flow from kitchen to living area. For visual tricks to denote a change in room, slightly change the details, such as eliminating upper doors and adjusting the height of a countertop.

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