Here’s How to Carve a Spot for Working or Dining From an Open Floor Plan — No Reno Required!

published Aug 31, 2021
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Credit: Shea Keating

Whether you’re designing a home with a large open floor plan or working with a smaller space, you want to be intentional about how you set it up. A lot of times, this means getting creative with zoning out particular areas for designated activities. A popular way to visually separate spaces without walls is to paint them each a different color. However, homeowner Shea Keating actually has a different, faster, and cheaper way to create separation, and it turns out the secret just might be under your feet!

In a recent house tour, Keating opened the doors to her colorful 2000-square-foot home in Sag Harbor, New York, where her eclectic style is on full display. “The house is just fun, open, and colorful,” she says, “But it’s also warm and homey.” One way to make a room instantly feel cozy and welcoming is by adding an area rug, and Keating has more than her fair share of underfoot textiles —  she even layered a couple of them and changes some of them out seasonally! The most strategic way she used an area rug, though, has to be in her main room downstairs, where she placed one directly under the cute little Lucite table and chairs her girls use for hanging out. She effectively turned what could have been an awkward transition from the living room to the kitchen into a useable space with both purpose and definition.

Putting a rug under a table isn’t a totally novel idea, but the fact that this particular rug is round and purple makes all the difference. It adds a new color, shape, and pattern to the room while creating a distinct zone visually for whatever you want to do there — eat, work, talk.

While Keating’s table is a smaller one (considering it’s kid-sized), the same rules apply for a larger table, as is shown here in the Oakland four-plex of Victoria Elizondo, who carved out a dining nook along a wall of windows right next to her living room in a similar way. In contrast to Keating, who used a more rectangular table on a circular rug, Elizondo used a circular table on a rectangular rug. Her home’s about half the square footage of Keating’s, but this design strategy still works the same way.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to refine and define your open concept floor plan — or even just a big open room that you don’t know how to decorate, don’t underestimate the power of rugs and how they create zones. They’re a relatively affordable, zero reno way to go and won’t close off your space the way a wall or divider screen would.