Discover how a new interiors trend is breaking the norm

PUBLISHED: 12:53 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:29 30 August 2018

Utilising different wall surfaces create partitions in open-plan spaces

Utilising different wall surfaces create partitions in open-plan spaces

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It’s out with the old and in with the new as broken-plan living takes over our spaces – but just how easy is it to achieve?

Until recently, open-plan living was the go-to layout for contemporary homes. Knocking down a wall would create a more sociable living space, incorporating more fluidity, light and freedom into shared quarters.

But fewer interior walls also meant less privacy, less quiet and – let’s be honest – fewer places to prop up furniture.

Broken-plan living is the compromise we’ve all been waiting for. “It’s something I am asked about more and more,” says Francesca Farrow, design director of Norwich-based interior design studio, Waldorf Farrow. “My clients love the idea of open-plan living, but sometimes one big space can be overwhelming.”

Instead, broken-plan living relies on clever use of space to create careful, deliberate separations. Different floor finishes, split levels and semi-permanent partitions – such as bookshelves and screens – can be used to create dedicated zones. The result? “Flexible living with a more conventional feel,” says Francesca.

But don’t be alarmed just yet – there are many different ways to break up an open-plan space without using physical walls.


Let there be light

One of the biggest advantages of open-plan living is natural light – with no obstructions in the way, daylight can flow freely across every area of your living space. But how do you keep this, if you intend to just put more in the way?

Along with screens and decorative partitions, “open storage units are a great way to separate spaces with different uses,” says Francesca. “They offer an element of flexibility as the units can be repositioned and what is on display can also be altered to complement the style of the room.” A few books, candles and a statement vase can make an eye-catching centre piece in one room – and removed to adopt a more minimalist style when you want to refresh the space.

“Feature lighting, such as pendants and wall lights, can also be used to highlight and define each area,” says Francesca, and more serious, structural modifications are also available. Internal windows, skylights and extra wide door-openings will maximise light, and double-sided fireplaces can give a cosy hue to cornered-off spaces. “Fireplaces can add a real centrepiece or statement to an area,” adds Francesca.


Level up

If you want to create a more dramatic division, use your floor wisely. Incorporating a step or an internal mezzanine is a great way to square off an area, and the actual act of having to go up, or down, to access the space will play a clever trick – you will end up thinking it is a much clearer division than it is.

But if you are not ready to draft in an architect just yet, there are a few other options. Mix and match different flooring types – lino versus carpet, tiles versus wood – to create separate thresholds. And if you’re not ready to lay a carpet where there isn’t one, try an over-sized rug to section off a living area.


Put up a wall

If you do decide to opt for a more permanent solution, choose a half-wall.

These tend to work best in kitchens and living areas, says Francesca, where you can create separate cooking and eating spaces without losing sociability. “It allows the more functional area of the kitchen – which at times may be messy – to be shielded from your entertaining space without closing it off completely.”

If your bedroom is on the larger side, then introducing a half-wall can also create an additional – and private – lounging area. Even studio flats can benefit from this addition as a clever, 
compromised way to divide a sleeping and living space into two.


Add colour

If you want a slightly easier solution, then head to the paint aisle.

Neutral colours work well in kitchens, but you can create a real contrast in your dining space by opting for a rich, warming burgundy or deep, inky blue.

“While remaining open, different wall coverings can create a sense of different rooms,” says Francesca, so opt for a feature wall or mix-match textures to simulate a division.

For further help and advice on how to achieve broken-plan living in your home, call 01603 552044.


For more inspiration, check out Beautiful Homes & Gardens.

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