5 Decorators Tricks to Define Space Without Building Walls

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Most of us love the concept of an "open floor plan," but it can be challenging when areas intended for specific purposes merge into one another. While open space feels nice, sometimes it's equally necessary (and psychologically profitable) to have delineated areas for eating, living, sleeping, and privacy. Here are some ways to divide space without building walls.

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  • Use color. Whether it's a bold splash of color or a subtle change of shade, an area demarcated through color creates the feel of a separate space. Here, Laura defines her bedroom area with a daring dark hue. Also note the white curtains in the foreground that further separate the bedroom area from the main area of the home.
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  • Create a furniture vignette. A cluster of pieces clearly intended for a specific purpose can help define that space. A reading nook like Liz's, group a chair, ottoman, reading lamp, and small table. Especially if placed near a bookshelf, this invites you to enjoy a book and a cuppa in a cozy spot.
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  • Don't let walls dictate furniture placement. Lining walls with furniture is often the instinct, but it's also often the worst way to strategically divide a space. The way Liz placed her couch beautifully illustrates the way furniture placement can both expand and define a space.
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  • Rugs, the classic space definers. Both small and large spaces require the division of space, as this bright room in Megan and Mike's apartment demonstrates. The rug here clearly outlines the living area as distinct from the dining area. Also note the way the back of the couch faces the dining table, further and strongly underscoring the separateness of the spaces. The same technique is used in the lead image.
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  • Bookshelves as "walls." Another way to divide space without building walls is to create your own walls with bookshelves (or other room dividers). Here in Jackie's place, the white shelves effectively separate the bedroom from the living area, yet blend effortlessly with the decor and don't block the light from the large windows in the sleeping area. Like rugs, bookshelves are a space-divider's best friend.

How do you divide an open space?

(Image credits: Bridget Pizzo; Apartment Therapy; Faye ; Natalie Grasso; Breanne Johnsen; Liana Hayles)