15 Ways to Make an Open-Concept Living Room Feel Cohesive

pink-and-blue themed open-concept living room and kitchen
Photo: David Tsay

Open floor plans forego walls in favor of seamless spaces. This layout creates an inviting atmosphere and eases movement from room to room, but it can also present a few decorating challenges. Learn how to spruce up your living room with an open floor plan using these tips on linking different areas, defining zones, and establishing a distinct style within open spaces.

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Open-Concept Living Room Design

open-concept living area with exposed beams
David Tsay

When designing an open-concept living room, think of the entire area, including adjacent spaces, as one large room. Paint colors, wood finishes, and furniture styles don't have to match exactly across spaces, but they should correlate for an aesthetically-pleasing effect. In this great room, wood beams overhead and a neutral color palette create a smooth transition between the living room, kitchen, and beyond.

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Cozy Furniture Arrangements for Open Rooms

large open great room brick fireplace
Paul Dyer

Make an open-concept living room feel cozier and more intimate with strategic furniture placement. Group the sofa and chairs closely together with the seats facing each other to create the effect of a smaller, more inviting space that functions for game nights and conversing. You can further distinguish the living room by laying out an area rug with a coordinating pattern or color.

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Furniture Ideas for Open Living Rooms

White desk in living room with wicker baskets
Greg Scheidemann

A properly placed sofa can mark a transition from one space to the next in an open-concept living room. For more impact, position a console table along the back to extend the sofa's presence and boost storage. Stow baskets holding extra blankets, TV remotes, and other necessities underneath the table to make the living room furniture arrangement appear more substantial. Intentional open-concept furniture placement is crucial for both visual and functional purposes.

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Open Floor Plan Flow

pink-and-blue themed open-concept living room and kitchen
David Tsay

Open-concept plans are popular because they allow you (and your eyes) to move freely between areas. To make this work in your home, think through the measurements. Create walkways at least 36 inches wide that direct traffic safely through the different spaces. Pay attention to furniture height and where hanging light fixtures fall to ensure your line of sight remains unblocked for a successful design.

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Using Color in Open Living Rooms

open floor plan kitchen and living room
Robert Brinson

To make open floor plans work, each area of your home should carry one or more stylistic elements into the next room. For your living room, use some features from the kitchen (which would be a more costly update) for inspiration. Repeat the kitchen color scheme with softer textures in an adjacent sitting area. This sofa's slipcover fabric resembles the grayish tones of the streamlined appliances and stone countertops. The area rug and throw pillows echo the kitchen cabinets' warm undertones and black painted details.

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How to Decorate with an Open Floor Plan

Open-concept floor plans have many advantages as well as a few challenges. To make your space work best for you, consider paint colors, furniture arrangements, lighting, and more. Watch to learn how to approach some of these important decisions when designing open living spaces.

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How to Separate Open Living Rooms

living room and kitchen wood columns
Edmund Barr

Decorating open floor plans involving the living room and kitchen can cause some conflict. Stylishly separate cooking and entertaining areas in a way that naturally lets the views and conversation flow between spaces. Partial walls, strategically set kitchen islands, breakfast bars, columns, and dropped or raised ceilings can all help divide open areas. In this family space, knotty pine boards and timbers accentuate the kitchen doorways and frame the breakfast bar to create the look of a large pass-through window.

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Cohesive Open Floor Plan Design

living room with dining area
Edmund Barr

Make sure your open-concept spaces read as a whole. Lay the same type of flooring in all areas and duplicate ceiling treatments whenever possible. When it wasn't feasible to add beams to the dining room ceiling, the homeowner carried the living room's tongue-and-groove board details to the dining room ceiling. Open floor plans also benefit from a cohesive color scheme. Here, all-white walls extend through the home's entrance and beyond, making pops of color accents more dramatic and interesting.

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Focal Points in Open Living Rooms

living room, dining room, kitchen
Jeff Herr

An open concept living room, dining room, and kitchen can cause everything to blend together. For more definition, incorporate a focal point in each adjacent space. These standout elements catch the eye while improving functionality. This open-concept design showcases four striking features, one in each space. A mirrored bar area, a paneled television wall, light-filled breakfast room windows, and a steely range hood set against a marble backsplash make one area as visually appealing as the next.

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Connect Open Floor Plans with Color

great room builtin shelving with fireplace
Paul Dyer

When painting and decorating great rooms, it's sometimes hard to know when to start and stop applying color. The simplest solution? Paint all adjoining walls and architectural details the same color so as not to disrupt the visual flow. Then increase the flow between the kitchen, eating, and sitting areas with similarly-hued accents. In this great room, shades of white and brass accents help connect the spaces with color.

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Maximize an Open Plan's Sight Lines

kitchen island facing living room
Laurie Black

When planning cooking, dining, and relaxation areas, consider what you want to be able to see from each spot. Place your sink or cooktop on an island so as you work, you can enjoy the crackling of a fireplace, watch your kids as they play, talk with guests, and take in views framed by doors or large windows in adjacent areas. One of the greatest benefits of an open-plan kitchen is how easily it flows into other parts of the home, doubling the size of your entertaining space.

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Define Open Rooms with Light Fixtures

open plan living room and kitchen
Werner Straube

Hang eye-catching light fixtures to distinguish different areas in an open floor plan. For continuity's sake, choose similarly-styled fixtures that mirror a material, color, or finish used elsewhere in the great room. Emphasize the separation of spaces by choosing various lights with distinct silhouettes. For example, drum shades provide ambient lighting that works well over dining room tables, while a small, open kitchen floor plan could benefit from direct lighting over work spaces.

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Furniture Layout Tips

living room with multiple sitting areas
Jean Allsopp

Apply open floor plan furniture layout ideas to give a single room multiple uses. Here, a clever ceiling treatment and horizontal white painted boards on the walls immediately identify this as one space. Thoughtful furniture arrangements double its purpose to include seating for watching TV, anchored by an area rug and more intimate grouping. Splashy aqua details, which appear on slipcovered chairs, floral-patterned pillows, and solid-hued club chairs, supply a vibrant link between spaces.

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Blurring Boundaries in Open Floor Plans

sitting area in front of fridge
Robert Brinson

Take advantage of your home's features to connect spaces within an open floor plan. Here, built-in bookcases extend from the kitchen to the sitting area to handily unite work and relaxation zones, while supplying display shelves and closed-door storage for the family room. Varying shades of tan on the walls subtly divide the two different areas. To reproduce this look, choose two shades of the same color from a paint-chip strip; the farther apart the shades, the greater the contrast.

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Divide and Conquer Open Plans

living room with floor to ceiling windows
Robert Brinson

Manage wide-open spaces by dividing the area into two defined zones. Arrange cozy conversation groupings, each defined with its own area rug, and highlight each group with an impressive ceiling-mounted fixture. In this large lounge area, a pair of statuesque lamps set atop a console subtly divides two sitting areas without blocking sight lines or conversation. A pair of lightweight stools can easily be moved between the two areas for quick rearranging before parties and gatherings.

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