How to decorate an open-plan lounge dining room

An open-plan home has several advantages, including the rooms' adaptability for entertaining. However, the open-plan lounge and dining room combination provides a unique challenge for the homeowner who is accustomed to decorating each room individually. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind that can make the space retain its open feeling and its flexibility while maximising the individual rooms' character and functionality.

Walk through the space. Examine the way traffic flows, such as the typical pathway from the kitchen to the dining area. Stand in various corners and study how the space looks from different angles. Check out the path of natural light as well, so that you can maximise daylight brightness but avoid dining with the evening sun shining in people's faces. Determine which areas are best for groups of people to gather and which are best for privacy.

Consider methods for unifying the space. Maintain a single decor theme for the open space, be it shabby chic or nouveau bohemian. The whole space need not be absolutely coordinated, but wall and trim colours should complement one another. A change in flooring, from tile to wood or carpet is fine, but there should not be clashing patterns.

Create individual spaces amid the open space. You need not block off the rooms completely, but you also should not maintain a huge open centre with furniture clinging to the surrounding walls. Instead, set up your lounge or living area by placing armchairs, love seat and the couch around a coffee table or an assortment of small cocktail tables. The dining area may consist of a formal dining table and chairs, or of bar stools next to a counter.

Accessorise the spaces. Open spaces do best with less clutter, but certain accessories can help define the lounge and dining areas. A nice throw rug can help set off the living space from the eating space. Good lighting over the dining table and floor lamps near the armchairs in the living area emphasise each space's unique purpose.

Add some visual interest to the walls. Open floor plans can tend to be minimalist. A major painting or some interesting textiles can liven up an otherwise bland backdrop. If you only have smaller pieces, try framing them in similar styles and grouping them for a greater visual impact.

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