7 Clever Ways To Zone Open Floor Plans With Examples

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!living room midcentury modern

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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10 Ways to Add Extra Seating to Your Living Room

Designing your home is all about making sure it’s cozy and comfortable for you, your family and guests you have over! Even if we’re not entertaining much these days, living room seating is still an important part of your overall home design—extra seating always comes in handy! Whether you are having a laid-back movie night with the fam, game night with friends, an unexpected visit from relatives or just enjoy having a variety of seating options when you’re lounging at home, comfy and cool living room seating is always a bonus. Here are 10 ways to incorporate living room furniture for extra seating that will make your living space even more fabulous and fun!

Super Soft Sectional

We love the look and feel of this plush living space! Instead of a typical sofa, use a sectional sofa—it adds a ton of extra seating for family and friends.

Sectionals are great for lounging and stretching out—they can even double as guest sleeping spaces! You can go for smaller sofas or very large versions. Options include L-shaped sofas, chaise sectionals, U-shaped couches, and more. If you’re pondering sectionals vs. sofas, it’s good to know that sectionals are great for larger living rooms or for maxing out seating. And it’s a perfect living room furniture option for families that need space for kids or cozy TV watching areas.

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Stools tucked away

One of our favorite tips for small living room design is having small stools tucked away under other furniture. In this look, they are tucked away under a console table so they’re not in the foot path but still easily accessible to pull out and sit on as needed. Decorative stools like these look great as part of the design and also add practical living room seating. They’re perfect for small areas because they don’t take up much floor space. This trick also works for an entryway or hallway near the living room—it’s also a smart design trick for spaces you entertain in, etc.

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Poufs tucked away

Another one of the best living room design ideas for a small space is floor poufs tucked under a shelf or media cabinet. They are easy to pull out for extra living room seating or tuck away for more floor space. They are soft and safe for kids and pets and work wonders in casual spaces and households w/ little ones. Plus, they are super versatile and can be used elsewhere too—pull them into the office, dining room, etc.

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Window Bench

We love the look of this window bench as extra living room seating! If you have a built-in bench, just add pillows, cushions, throw blankets, etc. Or you can bring in a free-standing bench for added effect! This type of living room furniture works great for a sunny spot or a good view—especially in reading nook designs! You can easily turn an awkward or unused window nook into a seating area that’s perfect for reading/studying, etc

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Upholstered Ottoman

If you want living room seating that’s kid-friendly and still stylish, try using an upholstered ottoman. It does double duty as both a coffee table and side bench. You can design it with a tray as for a cool coffee table or stack pillows on top for extra seating. This look works great for homes that need a coffee table and added living room seating. And with the soft corners, you don’t have to worry about kids bumping into them!

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Designer Bench

Adding a bench opposite chairs and sofa adds extra seating that doesn’t take up much space and rounds out this living room design. It’s a great look for an open living room—the bench can be moved around so it’s super versatile and you can use it for seating whenever you need. It’s good for a casual living room seating option when you need a little extra space to hang out.

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Floor poufs

If you need extra seating but don’t want to invest in a ton of bulky furniture, consider placing poufs across the living room floor. It’s a very casual look and poufs are easy to add to any room—it’s also one of our favorite bedroom seating ideas! They are easy to move around and also super lightweight and soft. This option works well for households with kids and babies—you can use poufs to hang out, play on the floor, seat a few extra folks, etc.

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Small Benches

For a look that’s smart and stylish, line one or two benches in front of the fireplace. They make a great addition to the overall design and can work well in both formal or casual living rooms. Benches help create a u-shape seating arrangement—a great setup for conversation. They can also be pulled closer for chatting/games/tv watching and more.

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Group of Chairs

A simple fix for extra living room seating is to add a set of chairs for an additional conversational seating area. They can either be part of the living room arrangement or set off to the side to create a separate space. This look works for larger living rooms or oddly shaped ones with a nook to place chairs. It’s a good setup for entertaining or morning coffee, etc

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Bench Behind Sofa

Adding a bench behind the sofa is another smart and simple way to add extra living room furniture without overtaking the space. A bench like this one subtly divides the space but also provides extra seating and a polishing touch. It’s good for opening living/dining rooms or multipurpose living rooms and can be pulled into the living room for added seating. This is also a handy option because you can easily move it to different areas for kids to sit on, make room for extra guests, etc.

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Ready to find your living room seating solution?

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Layout Guide: 1 Open Living Space, 2 Perfectly Family-Friendly Layouts

In our Layout Guides series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. This week we take on the challenge of finding open living space layout ideas that work for a kid- and pet-friendly home.

open living space layout ideasOpen Living Space Layout Ideas

The Space: A 18 x 20 open living space that gets lots of natural light and is the first space everyone walks into when they enter the home—which means it sees a lot of foot traffic.

The Challenge: Devising open living space layout ideas that are both kid- and pet-friendly. Don’t forget to include the fireplace and make sure the room can comfortably accommodate a big crowd for TV viewing.

Idea #1: The Open Flow Layoutopen living space layout ideas

Layout idea #1 focuses on a classic family-room setup. This layout makes the room feel open and encourages flow through the space. The furniture is arranged in a way that allows for comfortable TV viewing but also leaves floor space in between to accommodate lots of foot traffic (kids running around, pets lounging).

With this layout approach, it’s all about ease and versatility as well as working in lots of low, convenient storage.

open living space layout ideasWhy It Works:

  • The sofa and chair combo makes for a cozy but casual arrangement with two different seating options. This pairing also leaves lots of open space in the living area that provides a nice flow.
  • The leather sofa makes for comfy seating that’s both kid- and pet-friendly—any spills can be easily wiped off. It also stands up to wear relatively well and ages with a nice patina over time.
  • A graphic outdoor rug used indoor in this living space provides a durable foundation that’s easy to clean in the event of wine spills, spaghetti mishaps from kids, and dirty paws.
  • No sharp corners on the round coffee table makes it the perfect kid-friendly centerpiece. It also has hidden storage compartments for remotes, tech gadgets, and any extra toys.
  • Striped woufs (poufs for pets) create a designated spot for pets. Even better that these floor pillows can easily be moved around as needed.

This is Great If You…

  • Are looking for a layout that is more laid-back with an easy flow that connects the space to the rest of home.
  • Want to have a fuss-free hub in the home where your family can gather all the time to watch TV and relax.
  • Enjoy entertaining and having friends and family over for low-key movie and game nights. This arrangement leaves you lots of floor space for people to gather and lay out casually.
  • Want a space where your kids and pets can easily move around and play.

See the layout in 360!

Idea #2: The Parallel Layoutopen living space layout ideas

Layout idea #2 opts for a more formal furniture arrangement that makes it more of a conversation space. Matching sofas are placed facing each other, giving the living space a more structured layout.

This layout approach is designed for a space that has timeless appeal and is meant to last for years to come. It also keeps the TV from becoming the main focus of the space.

open living space layout ideasWhy It Works:

  • Two parallel sofas set this space up to be a conversation area with a formal layout that never goes out of style.
  • Sofas covered in kid-friendly fabric makes for pieces that not only look stylish, but are also practical and can stand the test of time. This makes them great investment pieces.
  • An indoor/outdoor rug ups the durability factor in this space. The pattern also helps keep the formal feel of the space.
  • Leather pieces, like the cocktail ottoman and a cowhide rug, are soft to the touch but can also handle some wear over time.
  • The plush ottoman replaces a coffee table for the ultimate kid- and pet-friendly piece.

open living space layout ideasThis is Great If You…

  • Are looking for a formal living space that’s clearly defined with a furnishings and a sofa setup that feels more grown up.
  • Enjoy a living space that’s not solely dedicated to TV watching but can be an entertaining space for family and friends.
  • Don’t need too much storage in your living space and would rather use it as a place for reading, lounging, and having conversations.
  • Have kids that are no longer toddlers but still jump on the couch and run around (hence the kid-friendly fabrics).

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Looking for open living space layout ideas for your home?