I’ve been working with a close friend of mine over the last few weeks, helping her to create a space that she actually wants to live in.
She has a beautiful home, recently renovated. Like many renovations, this one created a large open plan living space on the ground floor. So far so good.
The problem was, it wasn’t feeling that good. When we chatted, she explained that as a family they were rattling around in the space. It didn’t feel cosy, or intimate, or any of those things that a home should feel. It was also noisy, because there were wooden floors that amplified the normal soundscape of family life.
Open plan spaces can be extraordinary. At their best their can enable everyone to be together without being on top of each other. They mean that while you cook you can entertain, or chat with the kids. Or while the kids mess around in the kitchen, you can keep an eye on them from the comfort of your sofa.
But, there’s a trick to making open plan spaces feel like home. You need to think of them as a series of separate spaces, divided not by walls but by function, colour and mood. When you do that, the magic can happen.
My friend and I rolled up our sleeves and started shifting things around – always the best way to explore how the room changes as the furniture moves. And as the form shifts, the feeling does too.
When we finished we’d created an even more fabulous space that looked and felt very different. “It’s amazing!” my friend explained a few days later. “Now my husband and I actually sit in our living area in the evenings and talk to each other face to face. I’m blown away by what a difference this has made without us needing to spend any money on new furniture.”
We achieved this by relocating existing pieces of furniture and furnishings both from the ground floor space and from elsewhere in the house. The only new piece is a small footstool which the family already had on order.
Their stunning living room bookshelf now becomes the sophisticated centre piece that it was always meant to be. The informal rear seating area is now focused on the view into the back garden, making it feel calm and peaceful. The spaces we’ve carved out together are softened by rugs and throws, so day to day sounds don’t echo around as they did before.
The space is no longer a problem but an asset. And family life is feeling pretty different as a result.
If you’d like to feel better in your home, please contact me for a chat. I’d love to help.