Creating Zones in Open Plan Rooms

With seemingly infinite possibilities for both furniture arrangements and visible clutter, open floor plans are a challenge. Our initial reaction in small closed rooms is to find the perfect wall for each piece of furniture, but in open rooms it's all about learning to make the most of the middle of the room — which for most of us doesn't come naturally. • Wardrobes and Armoires. I have yet to live in a home with adequate closet space, and in some apartments, rooms abroad, and older homes, I've had no closet at all. I love this idea of using a beautiful piece of furniture to add storage while also providing a separate changing area.

Bookshelves. There is nothing ground-breaking about this suggestion — if you've been reading Apartment Therapy for a week, you're bound to be well acquainted with the EXPEDIT — but I can't help but think it's genius everytime I see it…which is often. Storage and division without the weightiness of a wall! The shelves need not surround the area, just separate it enough to distinguish it from the rest of the room.

The Back of a Sofa. A sofa floating in the middle of a room or jutting out from a wall is the perfect place too eek out an extra zone. Sofa tables are a great invention, and in a space-challenged room, the concept can be expanded to include a whole home office. Many of Apartment Therapy studios include some sort of variation on the theme.

Hanging Decor. Think bead curtain…without the hippie den associations. If it's creative visual separation you want, suspending decorations from the ceiling is a quick fix. For privacy, try curtains on a hospital track, but if it's just the illusion of division, things like picture frames or clusters of air plants (in hanging bubble terrariums or on their own) can divide a space without closing it in.

Rugs. I've already sung the praises if the area rug earlier this week. Visually they can do wonders in anchoring a seating area or creating a separate feel for each living zone without actually dividing the space with walls.

What other space-dividing tips would you add to the list?

Images: 1: VT Wonen , 2: Apartment Therapy NY: Carl and Laurent's Bright White Live/Work Loft, 3: Apartment Therapy LA: Matthew Mau's Creative Loft in the Chapman Building, 4: Apartment Therapy LA: Dave's Tiny Urban Austin Studio, 5: Coastal Living

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