86591aHIncreasingly, people are foregoing the traditional kind of home they grew up in – a warren of rooms separated by walls – and opting for open-plan homes featuring multi-purpose areas such as great rooms that combine the kitchen, dining room and living room. And, no surprise, decorators are devising new techniques to enhance this most livable style.

So how do you decorate one large space and make it beautiful and workable for all the things you need to do – eat, entertain, help kids with homework, relax and more?

“The key is continuity,” says Kim Kiner, vice president of design for window fashions company, Hunter Douglas. “And as some of today’s most talented designers explain, continuity can be produced in a variety of ways.”


To keep an open-plan interior open, designer Glenn Lawson says: “The number one element for achieving continuity is wall colour. Whether “warm” or “cool” you can use the same one throughout or paint moldings variations of the main colour, from light to dark.”

He continues, “Large furnishings such as sofas and area rugs are most successful when they are colour-wise, ‘cousins’ of the walls – three shades of blue, for example. This way the eye keeps travelling around the space and is not interrupted by large disparate areas.”


“When you have an open-concept living space,” advises Shea Soucie of Soucie Horner, “it’s important to keep the flooring material consistent so you don’t chop up the flow. You can make it interesting by laying wood planks on the diagonal, for instance, or by setting reclaimed European tiles in a herringbone pattern. Whatever you choose, make it the same throughout.

“Then, layer your rugs on top to soften it, warm it and identify ‘rooms’ within it. Rugs are amazingly versatile. No matter what kind you choose, they add personality, colour, texture and style.”

Art and Accessories

All these designers use art to help create a beautiful home. In addition to art, Glenn Lawson likes to use glass, Lucite, polycarbonate and acrylic accessories.  “They can provide sculptural interest without blocking anything, which keeps the interior open. Think glass coffee tables and ghost chairs. Their presence is beautiful yet implied, adding form in a subtle fashion.”

Furniture Arrangement “How you position the furniture is crucial when developing beautiful, open-plan interiors,” says Whitney Stewart of Whitney Stewart Interior Design “Separate, but equally useful and good-looking ‘zones’ can be as simple as an entry table with a paneled screen behind it or as complex as an entire kitchen.”

Even in small spaces, Stewart likes to bring furniture “off the walls” and arrange it “like clouds” for a specific purpose – conversation, reading, dining. She leaves an allée on the periphery to act as a frame, which “produces a feeling of lightness and airiness,” she explains.

Window Treatments

“Whatever window treatments you choose, arrange them with an eye toward the long view, that is the entire interior not solely one particular zone, to further unify the space,” counsels Kim Kiner.

Making this a no-brainer is the all-new PowerView Motorization system from Hunter Douglas, she adds.  Its wireless technology permits operation with more than 36 different styles and configurations of the company’s window fashions for both horizontal and vertical applications.

Once reserved for the privileged few who reside in lofts, open-plan homes are now available to everyone. Make the most of the abundant light and space they offer with a thoughtfully crafted design. You’ll never regret it.

More information is available at www.hunterdouglas.ca.


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Canadian Home Trends magazine gives you a personal tour of the most stunning homes and condos across Canada. You'll be inspired by a selection of accessible home décor products, trend reports, simple yet stylish DIY projects, and much more. In each issue, you are given the tools to recreate designer spaces you've always dreamt of having at home, in-depth renovation and design advice, colour palette and furniture pairings, and Canada's best places to shop.