Open concept homes are becoming more popular than ever. Throughout North America people seem to want to do away with constrictive walls and create open, airy spaces. However despite the popularity of this style of floor plan, large rooms sometimes lack the coziness that people crave in their homes - particularly in the fall and winter months. If you love open concept but also love cozy and comfy, don't worry.
You can have the best of both worlds!
One of the best ways to define spaces without walls is with area rugs. Area rugs unite all of the pieces sitting on top of them and help to reinforce the purpose of the space, be it a living/conversation area, dining area, or sleeping area. An area rug signals to the eye that these items belong together and this space has a specific purpose. Also, the size of an area rug helps to define the perceived size of a space. The larger the rug the larger the space feels. In open concept spaces the use of area rugs helps to break up different areas and help each one feel contained, and thus cozier. And what's great is that you can determine the size of each area with the size of the rug. So if you want your living area to feel large, use a large rug; if you want the dining room to feel more intimate, use a smaller rug, etc.
If you've ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone sitting 10' to 20' feet away from you, you know how awkward it can be.
You have to raise your voice to be heard, and everyone else in the room can hear everything you say. It feels cavernous and lacks intimacy. That's why in large rooms it's best to create several small conversation areas instead of one large seating arrangement. Intimate seating areas are conducive to conversation and make spaces feel cozier.
In an open concept space there are many options, including creating several conversation areas within one defined space (such as a living area), or dividing them up to create several separate areas throughout the whole space. The more you have (within reason) the cozier the space will feel.
Arranging furniture in a considered way is a powerful tool in defining living areas, blocking off spaces, and creating conversation spots. Console tables and sofas tend to most commonly mark transitions from one space to another, but you can also use chairs, ottomans, bookshelves, desks and other pieces. Just remember that in open concept floor plans the backs of the majority of your furniture pieces will be visible, so take this into consideration.
Fireplaces are great for warming up a space - both literally and figuratively, and open concept homes in particular can benefit greatly from these units, be it wood-burning, gas, or even electric. While the main purpose of a fireplace is to provide heat, they actually serve a dual purpose. Fireplaces create focal points that all the other furniture in an area can be gathered around. People naturally gravitate towards them, and when that's added to the light and warmth of the flame, it makes for a very cozy area.
Interiors always look cozier in dim lighting. It's a fact. It hides minor flaws, gives everything a warm glow, and is just generally flattering to everything (including people!). In open concept spaces it's definitely a good idea to put all of the lights on dimmers. This includes living areas, sleeping areas, dining areas and the kitchen. It's particularly important to remember to put dimmer switches in the kitchen - an area people often don't think about. If you're entertaining in the evening and have guests in the living or dining area, you don't want them to see harsh or bright lights in the kitchen. The ability to dim them means you can still take care of things in the kitchen without ruining the ambiance for your guests..
Empty walls are bleak, have little personality, and do nothing to cozy up a space.
Much like area rugs, art can add color and personality, but it can also help to define areas. So even though there are fewer walls than traditional floor plans, open concept homes need a little wall art. There's no need to go overboard and try to cram a lot into small area, but do use art thoughtfully to define areas and add warmth.
Two Tone Walls
Another way to add coziness using the few walls that exist in open concept homes is to use paint. Two-tone walls can add dimension without overwhelming the space. Any colors can be used depending on your style, but make sure one is at least slightly darker than the other. For a sophisticated and traditional look consider installing a piece of chair rail to divide the two sections.
When it comes to making spaces feel cozy, there's nothing better than soft and lush fabrics. No matter what your style, whether it's modern, traditional, or something in between, be sure to use plenty of upholstered pieces. Consider a large upholstered ottoman as an alternative to a coffee table, and include soft accessories like pillows and throws. Try to avoid coarse materials and opt for those that are soft to the touch.
Create comfort with the use of some natural materials. Exposed brick, wood, sisal, rattan and other organic materials help to bring in a sense of nature and give off an inherently comfortable vibe. You can use them in large doses or small, depending on your style. If you have a fireplace consider a natural stone hearth, consider a reclaimed wood table or bookcase, or even a small wicker basket to hold blankets and throws can do the trick.
While open concept homes can certainly pose some decorating challenges, there's no reason why you can't still make them feel cozy. It may take a little more work, but you can have it all!