Skip To Main ContentAccessibility Help & Feedback

Blog Post

Avoid these common mistakes with open concept decorating

The open concept has been a popular design in homes for many years. The absence of walls to separate the main living spaces—kitchen, living room, dining room—provides a spacious atmosphere. But all this open room can be a challenge for decorating. Kettler Forlines Homes wants you to be aware of how to avoid these common mistakes with open concept decorating in your home.

Missing the zone.

Yes, the area is wide open, but it shouldn’t stay that way. Homeowners should incorporate zones throughout the main living area. These are wall-less functional rooms. Separate your family room from the dining area. Define the “boundaries” with the placement of your furnishings. 

The large pieces, like the dining table and sofa, are the focal points of your zones. Use an area rug to help with the space definition. Direct your seating to the center of the zone. In this way, the backs of the chairs help to mark a boundary.

Going up against the wall.

Avoid the temptation to push your furniture up against the wall—unless you’re setting up a dance floor. This layout doesn’t welcome gathering or conversation. Remember, you’re creating zones. Put your furniture where it works—like a comfortable nook to sit and read and a separate place for the kids to do homework.

Overwhelming furniture.

A big space doesn’t necessarily require big furniture. You can crowd your wonderfully open space by choosing pieces that are too large, like a massive sectional or entertainment center. When designing your main living area, think about the way people will move through it. Allow a minimum of three feet of open area for navigating through it.

You can make the most of your space by adding furnishings that serve multiple purposes, like a coffee table or ottoman that doubles as storage.

Forgetting the lighting.

As you design each area, think about how to light the zones in your open concept. Without walls separating the rooms, you probably have more natural light streaming in. But that’s not always enough. When designing your open concept area, light each zone. Lighting should be done in layers. You start with the ambient (natural) light. Then, bring in task lighting, accomplished with lamps, track lighting, and pendant lights. The next layer is accent lighting, which brightens small areas, like a wall sconce.

Playing the match game.

If you tune into the HGTV design shows, you’ll hear the decorators scoff at “matchy matchy”. Buying furniture in matching sets is convenient but presents an uninteresting design. Keep within a color scheme, but mix up your pieces within that plan. Complement the neutrals of your sofa with a patterned upholstered chair.

Add levels by putting chairs that aren’t the same height as the sofa. Bring in floor lamps and other pieces that add height. If you can look through your open concept and see a straight line across the top of your furniture, it’s time for a change. 

Too busy.

This is a common design mistake with open concept layouts. You look at the overall square footage and think, “There’s so much space to fill.” The objective is not to “fill” it but to pull it all together in a way that provides the level of comfort you want.

Eclectic is one thing, but incorporating too many different styles of furniture can make an area look jumbled. Decide on one style and then add in unique pieces that make a statement, like an antique rocker in your contemporary design.

With every piece of decor you place, ask yourself, “Does this make sense here? Will I still love it in six months?” If you answer “No” to either question, step back and rethink the choice.

The same problem occurs when you go beyond the pops of color and instead cast a spectrum around the room. Decide on your primary color, and add one or two more. If you still feel the urge to do more than that, choose varying shades of the colors, like a lighter or darker one.

Still not feeling the love for your open concept design?

If you’re stalled with your design inspiration, go back and think about how you want to use this room. Get specific, like “I want a party space where I can easily entertain” or “I’d like an area where I can exercise while multitasking in the kitchen.” When you’re clear on the function, you can weigh your decision decisions against it.

Kettler Forlines Homes has been designing and building homes for more than 40 years, spanning three generations. We also provide Design, Build, Renovate services so homeowners can transform spaces, including remodeling historic homes. From built-ins to additions to complete home makeovers, we have the experience and skill to recreate your home. Avoid the common design mistakes and contact us to get started.