I Asked Designers How to Create More Division in My Open Plan Apartment, and Here’s What They Said

published Sep 21, 2022
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Not to sound all fancy because my apartment isn’t big or luxurious, but I have a sunroom problem. I’m sure you’re thinking sunrooms are always charming home additions to any house or apartment, and at first, these spaces do promise a world of possibilities. This space could transform into a dining nook, a plant room, or even a sweet play area if you have little ones.

While sunrooms offer loads of options, they don’t always have the best boundaries or sense of separation from the rest of a home. Many builder layouts (mine included) fall into the trap of having the sunroom bleed into the main room it’s attached to, which results in awkward furniture configurations at best. That’s how my own sunroom looks: The sunroom couch faces the living room, but it feels empty and clumsy. If you’re struggling to separate your open sunroom or bonus space from the rest of your apartment or living room, here are some tips on how to define it without resorting to a wall of closed doors.

Use your furniture to your advantage

People love Emma Beryl suggests creating two separate living spaces out of a larger one by using furnishings of varying heights. “A high-back sofa or console table can have the ability to break up your rooms visually,” she says. If you need more contrast, you can try adding taller furniture pieces in the living room and shorter ones in the sunroom to register a separation visually.

Think of rugs as visually light barricades

Use rugs as invisible walls to separate your space into sections, creating designated conversation circles in two rooms that seem to bleed together. “There’s a lot you can do with subtle design changes to define specific spaces in an open floor plan,” shares designer Bria Hammel. “Start by adding a rug to this sunroom or living room space; this will help to visually outline the space to make it feel like its own room.”

Credit: Sarita Relis

Use similar decorative elements

If you don’t want the contrast between the two spaces to be too jarring, you can use repeated motifs or similar design ideas in both rooms to tie them together. “We love blending spaces by using similar materials, such as rattan in a sunroom, and then pulling in rattan or earthy elements inside as well,” say designers Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini, founders of House of Nomad. “Think a rattan light fixture or similar potted plants coming from the sunroom and transitioning into the living space.”

Credit: Minette Hand

Float your furnishings

Do you have your living room sofa against one wall, your TV cabinet against the opposite one, and then a sofa pushed up against the windows of your sunroom? If so, the space might appear flat or overly spaced out. To fix that, you might consider floating your furnishings. “You can do this by placing a sofa or chair with its back to a neighboring furniture grouping,” says Beryl. “By placing your pieces in a specific place, you will be able to break up your open concept and solidify the separation of areas.” This might mean pushing the couches away from the walls and windows and setting up benches or sideboards in the area that separates the living room from the sunroom.

Introduce new flooring

Another way to carve out the two spaces is to switch up your flooring. “The best way to carve them out, in our opinion, is to mix up the flooring so you have an interesting transition,” Minkhorst and Lentini say. “We love doing a natural stone or pop of color/pattern for a tiled floor moment in a sunroom, which helps define the space and keeps you cooler in those warmer months.” If you don’t want to do an entire tile job, you can try adding peel-and-stick tiles or carpet tiles for a less permanent option.