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.

glam style living room with a pink velvet sofa, leather pouf, and screen used as a room divider

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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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Layout Guide: 1 Small, Square Living Room, 2 Functional Solutions

In our “Layout Guides” series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. Often the trickiest part of designing a space, finding the right layout for your room can be a challenge. This week we’re diving into two solutions for a small, square living room layout.


Square Living Room

The Space: 13×18 small, square living room with lots of doors and windows

The Style: Mod Visionary

The Challenge: Turning the small, square living space into a comfortable and functional hangout space with plenty of seating

Square Living RoomIdea #1: The Conversational Layout

Layout idea #1 emphasizes using the small room as a space for conversation. This is a space meant for people to relax, mingle, chat and lounge together. There’s no TV in the room because it is geared toward having people interact. The cozy sectional sofa is also perfect for reading and snuggling. If you enjoy having friends over to hang out and talk or play games, try this layout in your space.

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Here’s why this small, square living room layout idea works.

Square Living RoomRoom to Chat

The sectional fits right into the square shape of the room, making it extra cozy, and ensuring there is plenty of seating for family and guests. The fireplace, while incorporated into seating area, is not the main focus of the room. There is easy flow into and through the room and storage tucked to the side against the unused wall keeps clutter out of sight!

This Is Great If You…

  • Love entertaining and prefer chatting and relaxing with guests over watching TV.
  • Want a cozy place for you and your family to gather and read, snuggle, or just kick back.
  • Love a neat and tidy home that’s comfy but uncluttered.
  • Want a space with a more grown-up aesthetic.

Square Living RoomIdea #2 – The TV Viewing Layout

This layout idea is all about optimizing the small space for TV viewing and comfortable lounging. Because the room is small, we swapped out the sectional for a cozy sofa that faces the TV to make it the focal point. There is a lot of flexibility to move stuff around and create extra seating so you’re never short on chairs when friends drop by.

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Here’s why this small, square living room layout idea works.

Optimal Functionality

If you like to watch TV, but don’t want that to be the only focus of the space, this layout gives you the best of both worlds. With a sofa placed directly across from the TV, but next to the fireplace, there are seats that work for whichever focal point you want to highlight. This layout is great if you like to watch Netflix but also host gatherings.

Square Living RoomSmall Space Solutions

In small spaces, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. In this room, we optimized the small, blank space between two doors with a mini cabinet for a TV set-up. The two poufs also add additional seating that doesn’t clutter up the room (and can even double as a footrest). Finally, the bookcases add vertical storage that makes the most out of a narrow wall space.

This Is Great If You…

  • Have a fireplace and a TV and want a layout that works for both.
  • Enjoy entertaining small groups and want extra seating.
  • Need a space that is compact but flexible with furnishings that are easy to move around.
  • Love a space that is clean and stylish with no clutter in sight.

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Layout Guide: A Long Open, Living/Dining Room Layout Meets Its Match

open living/dining room layoutOften the trickiest part of designing a space is finding the right layout. In our “Layout Guides” series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes, from square-shaped to narrow to just plain awkward. This week we take on the long, open living/dining room layout to work for lounging and entertaining.

If your home has an open-flow living/dining room set up, you might be wondering how to make the best use of the space. Here are two living dining room layout ideas that help create a distinct dining room ‘zone’ and a comfy, functional lounge/entertainment space.

The Space: 13×18 open living / dining room

The Style: Refined Rustic

The Challenge: Designing a long, open living / dining room area with a distinct dining zone, adequate seating, and functional traffic flow.

open living/dining room layoutIdea #1 – The Comfy Sectional Open Living Room Layout

Idea #1 for our open living/dining room layout is all about creating a home space that feels relaxed and inviting. It creates two distinct areas, one for formal dining and one for kicking back and hanging out. This is a great setup for family and informal, low-key gatherings.

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Family Friendly

A sectional sofa offers lots of comfy places for families to gather ‘round, chat, and watch TV together. The leather ottoman can even be used as extra seating for big gatherings. It also doubles as a kid-friendly coffee table (no sharp edges = no owies!). To top it off, the natural fiber rug in the dining area is durable and can stand up to heavy use.

open living/dining room layoutExtra Storage

Because the sofa’s back is floating in the middle of the room, we have space to add a clever console that provides extra shelving and places to tuck away odds and ends. The living room bookcase is also an attractive way to showcase books and other display items. You can also use baskets and bins for extra storage.

Conversation-Ready Layout

The sectional sofa, ottoman, and armchair grouping provide plenty of comfy seating options that make for an easy place to gather and chat. This set up makes TV viewing easy but the TV isn’t the main focus of the room.

This Is Great If You…

  • Like a comfortable living space with a more laid-back seating area for your family to sprawl out.
  • Want a clearly differentiated living and dining area.
  • Prefer a living space where the main focus isn’t always the TV.
  • Need some kid-friendly storage that doesn’t clutter up your space.

open living/dining room layoutIdea #2 – Formal Living Room Layout

Idea #2 for the open living/dining room layout creates a more cohesive flow between the living room and dining room. If you are all about entertaining, use the open space to create a sophisticated living area that encourages conversation. Guests can wander between rooms or you can move chairs from the dining area to the living room for extra seating when you need it.

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Devised for Entertaining

This layout features two sofas facing each other, which create a seating area that’s conducive to conversation and cocktail gatherings. The formal layout, with its symmetrical sofas, also gives the seating area a roomier feel and a more open flow.

This allows the living and dining areas to feel more connected, which is ideal for larger gatherings as guests can mingle in both rooms.

open living/dining room layoutExtra Seating

The two sofas offer plenty of seating for guests to interact with each other, not just face the TV. The two poufs also can double as extra seating or even side tables in a pinch! And, if you’re really in a bind, you can even pull the dining chairs into the living room for even more extra seating.

This Is Great If You…

  • Love hosting small and large groups at your place.
  • Prefer gatherings to be centered around conversation rather than TV.
  • Enjoy hosting dinner parties that start with cocktails and transition to a seated meal.
  • Want the living room and dining room to seamlessly flow together.
  • Hate clutter – this layout is elegant and organized with no room for a mess.

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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.

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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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