Over the past year, our homes became more than just a home. When the pandemic hit, we all had to quickly learn how to create functional multi-use spaces in our home. Our living and dining spaces needed to multitask as home office, classroom, gym, playspaces, you name it. And for people that have open concept designs, it meant making one large space work as a living room, dining room, and many of these other spaces.
With that in mind, we asked some of our designers for tips on how to divide a room up for multipurpose use. From floating furniture, such as a sofa or tall bookcase, to stand in as a room divider to devising open living/dining room layouts that can easily be changed up for remote work and homeschooling, we discovered endless ways to rearrange and reconfigure our homes to suit our lifestyles and needs.
Most importantly, we were able to zero in on the best multipurpose furniture that not only add function to our homes but also keeps our rooms feeling stylish and spacious. Because at the end of the day, a comfortable home should be both practical and in keeping with your design taste!
Scroll down to see some of our favorite solutions for how to divide an open floor plan in the home. And if you’re dealing with an awkward living room design, don’t forget to check out our layout guides for more clever ways to maximize your space for multipurpose use!
1. A Long & Narrow Open Floor Plan
The Space: An open concept living, dining, and kitchen space.
The Challenge: Creating distinct living and dining areas within the long and narrow space where the kitchen anchors one end and a fireplace occupies the other—all while making sure there’s a good flow and enough walking room all around.
The Solution: Zoning out each section of the room is key. To do that, we arranged a sofa and credenza to function as a room divider between the living and dining spaces. Then we laid down a rug in the dining area to delineate it from the living space and kitchen.
The result is a living room with a spacious seating area facing the fireplace that’s grounded by a large rug and sofa. We also added a tall plant to further loosely mark the start and end of the living area. The dining space is arranged with a long communal table that provides lots of walking room all around without disrupting the flow to the kitchen.
2. An Open Concept Living Room
The Space: A large family-friendly room with a distinct open doorway.
The Challenge: Delineating the dining and living areas so that each feel distinctly like their own space while keeping the overall look and feel of the room cohesive. Additionally, the goal is to find a way to maximize flow in the open plan.
The Solution: Orienting the layout so that the living and dining areas are perpendicular to each other. This setup offers the best flow in the open space, a sense of visual cohesion, and also an overarching cozy atmosphere.
By having the living room sofa and chairs parallel to the length of the room, we were able to create a direct flow from the seating area into the dining space. For a simple yet clever spatial marker, we added a small bench to bookend the seating area. From there, we arranged the dining table to be perpendicular to the living room and ground it with a rug. It was the perfect way to zone the space without creating any obvious visual barriers.
3. An Open Plan Living & Dining Room
The Space: A rectangular living space with high ceilings but awkward window placements.
The Challenge: Sectioning the room into two areas that feel like actual enclosed living and dining rooms that don’t feel visually (or physically) cramped and cluttered.
The Solution: Taking advantage of the high ceilings in this space is the trick here. So we pulled in two matching tall bookcases to stand in as a room divider. This also helps visually minimize the awkwardly high placement of the windows in the room.
This works perfectly because the bookcases act as a ‘wall’ that physically divides the room into two spaces for living and dining, but the open shelves keep each area from feeling completely closed off. The open shelves also let light through and allow for shared storage across both spaces. An open bookcase is always a safe bet for a room divider. Just be sure to Be sure to keep your bookcases sturdy by either mounting them to the wall or to each other.
4. A Spacious Multi-Section Living Room
The Space: An open floor plan where living, dining and entry all coincide in a compact space.
The Challenge: Carving out an entry that’s clearly defined and separate from the living area in the open-concept space. There also needs to be enough room for a dining area if needed.
The Solution: Propping up a folding screen makes for a bold and stylish room divider. It successfully creates a barrier between the front door and the living room, adding purpose and clear function to the entry and offering some privacy to the seating area.
A screen is always a great choice for a divider because it can be moved around easily, taken down when you need to, and also makes for a statement piece. If you’re not a fan of folding screens, stick to an open bookcase.
5. A Seamless Living Room & Entry
The Space: A small room with a front door that opens directly into the living space.
The Challenge: Figuring out a space-saving approach to create a distinct entryway that is separate from the living area in this open concept room. Also, finding a furniture setup that doesn’t obstruct the windows.
The Solution: Lining up a low bookcase that strategically divides the room. This allows for a small entry landing area on one side and a full living area on the other.
The greatest advantage of the bookcase is that it serves as a room divider that takes up minimal floor space. At the same time, it also works as an entryway catchall space for setting things down when you come into the home. Similarly, the open shelves also provide plenty of storage space for living room essentials. If you’re living in a small apartment or home, this is an excellent solution for creating a foyer-like space where there isn’t one.
6. A Compact Live & Sleep Space
The Space: A combined living and bedroom small open studio plan.
The Challenge: Dividing the small room into public and private spaces that don’t feel cramped. Meanwhile, the private bedroom area needs to feel comfy and enclosed while the living area requires a more open vibe.
The Solution: Opting for a high-style multifunctional folding screen with built-in shelves for a room divider. This effectively separates the living and bedroom spaces, with the height of the screen closing off the bedroom area. At the same time, the open design of the screen helps keep an airy look in the overall space.
This is a perfect solution for people living in studio apartments because it’s a versatile setup that’s practical, stylish, and space-saving. You can also easily change up your layout as needed.
7. A Small Living & Home Office Space
The Space: A classic open space with a dedicated office area.
The Challenge: Figuring out how to divide a room up into a living space and an office that are both subject to heavy daily use. That means each area has to be furnished for individual comfort and function as totally separate ‘rooms’.
The Solution: Sliding a mid-height open shelving unit in between the living area and office creates an instant separation of the spaces.
The work area is curated with a desk, chair, and area rug with a distinct aesthetic that sets it apart. It has the room divider shelving that provides storage, which also turns it into a practical place for doing homeschooling or WFH for extended periods of time.
Meanwhile, the living area is given its own aesthetic, with a caramel leather sofa and a colorful rug that feel visually distinct while also inspiring a sense of warmth and relaxation. This setup is conducive to a couple’s apartment, where one person can be lounging while another person is working.