Many homes in Orlando feature large, open concept living and dining areas. With fewer walls to impede natural light, these homes tend to be bright, airy, and spacious. What’s more, this seamless transition between the most-used areas of the home allows open concept rooms to serve multiple purposes, from dining and relaxing to working and studying. The open space also makes your home feel bigger, encourages social interaction, and creates a sense of movement and continuity, making this area perfect for everyday use as well as entertaining large groups.

Challenges of Open Concept Design

However, designing and decorating an open concept home involves more than simply purchasing furniture and hoping everything coordinates. Instead, taking full advantage of this modern floor plan requires careful planning and consideration to avoid causing unnecessary visual clutter or losing the sense of coziness we prize in our homes. Designing multiple separate rooms can be complicated enough, but the flexible design required by open concept spaces tends to be particularly difficult for homeowners to navigate. When multiple rooms are interconnected, it is often challenging to select the right furniture pieces and devise arrangements that maximize available space. Some open concept homeowners struggle with wasted space, lack of privacy, or less-than-optimal traffic flow.

To solve these problems, designers recommend “zoning” open floor plans, a term for dividing large rooms into distinct zones designed for specific activities. Strategically creating smaller zones within a large, open area provides much-needed structure. It also allows members of your family to maintain a sense of privacy without sacrificing the light and airiness you love.

It might seem intimidating to tackle such a sizable area, but with a few simple techniques, you can transform a vast, almost warehouse-like space into a comfortable and inviting layout.

Choose and Arrange Furniture for Function

First consider how you use your home now. Pay attention to the areas where you and your loved ones spend the most time, then identify areas that are not already in use due to poor design or furniture placement. Most families can divide their open concept space into three distinct zones—the family zone, the hosting zone, and the work zone.

  • The Family Zone

The family zone should prioritize comfort and encourage conversation. You can accomplish this by setting up a cozy area in the middle of your larger space. Choose several different seating options, such as a sectional sofa, a lounge chair, and a set of armchairs. Multi-functional furniture can be a great asset, such as coffee tables that can rise to various heights, storage trunks to hold games and books, or ottomans that can be used for seating or topped with a tray to hold beverages.

Use taller pieces of furniture, standing lamps, or floor plants to establish the borders of the zone and make sure all seats are facing one other. Implement a combination of open and concealed storage and make sure everything has a place. Anything you do not use on a regular basis can be stored away, allowing for an easy transition from family play area to adults-only sanctuary after the kids go to bed.

  • The Hosting Zone

The hosting zone is all about giving your guests easy access to everything they need while you are entertaining. It can be separated from the family zone with standalone shelving units, movable screens, decorative dividers, or artfully draped curtains. If you have a small family but tend to host large dinner parties, an expandable table is ideal for accommodating your needs as they change, and extra chairs tucked away in a corner can be pulled out for additional seating.

Consider styling a bar cart with drinkware, liquor bottles, and mixers so guests can easily locate cocktail necessities and help themselves during the evening. This allows you to spend the evening socializing rather than scurrying around to top off drinks. At the end of the night, you can simply wheel the cart out of the way.

  • The Work Zone

The work zone can be positioned in a small corner or nook to provide privacy and can be distinguished from the other zones with a screen or an open shelving unit. To minimize distractions and promote productivity, this zone should be designed with only the bare essentials. If you work primarily on a computer, printers, scanners, and bulky filing cabinets are simply not necessary.

All you truly need is a flat writing surface with enough space to fit your computer, a comfortable and supportive chair you can spend hours in, and a lamp to illuminate your working space. You can also add a plant or two to bring in natural elements, improve air quality, and reduce stress. Ultimately, the goal is to have your work zone close at hand but make it distinct enough that you don’t feel like you can’t escape your tasks after your workday is over.

Divide Zones with Flooring or Rugs

Most open concept homes have the same wall and ceiling style throughout, so varying the types of flooring and rugs you use can divide your space into distinct zones without adding more furniture. When our eyes identify a change in flooring, even subconsciously, we recognize that we are in a different space. Using distinct types of flooring is an easy, yet incredibly effective, way to clearly delineate zones and drive traffic flow. Wood flooring is popular in living areas for its warmth, while slate, tile, terracotta, and marble are great for kitchen and dining spaces due to their hardiness.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, area rugs are one of the most powerful tools for defining different zones while also adding visual interest and enhancing coziness. You can experiment with different textures and shapes for maximum impact. Consider using a 9×12 wool or silk rug in the family zone, an 8×10 flat weave rug in the hosting zone for easy clean-up, and a round rug for the work zone. Make sure the rugs are big enough that at least the first two legs of each piece of furniture rests on top—this way, your pieces do not look like they are floating in the room.

Illuminate Zones with Distinct Lighting

Because you will be using each zone for a different purpose, it’s important to strategically select lighting fixtures that meet each unique need. In the family and work zones, place a floor lamp near a corner to create an even glow, then add a few table or work lamps so you can precisely control the amount of light you need based on your activities. For example, if you’re playing a board game, you need as much light as possible, but if you’re curled up with a book, you may only need to turn on a single table lamp.

Chandeliers and collections of pendants look gorgeous in hosting zones. They add drama, draw attention to the height of your ceiling, and create a lovely twinkle when the light hits your glassware. You can also add wall sconces on either side of a buffet or bar cart to emphasize these pieces.

Contact CRT Studios for Expert Advice

By separating your open concept floor plan into dedicated zones, you can maximize the lightness and airiness of your space while also enhancing comfort and coziness for your family members and guests. Follow the steps above to get started, and you will be amazed at how much better your home looks, feels, and functions. If you’re having difficulty planning your space, or are interested in learning more, contact Rob Turner of CRT Studios at (407) 440-4446 or