How to Open Up Living Spaces

Check out these tips and tricks for opening up your home's living areas by creating the illusion of more space.
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Photo By: Geoffrey Hodgdon

Two Become One

Make two small rooms feel more spacious by opening a shared wall to create a framed opening. A framed opening visually links one space to another and is most effective when it provides a wide connection between spaces while still maintaining the differentiation of one room from another.

Columns Instead of Walls

Create a more open floor plan, especially where the kitchen connects to adjacent living spaces, by removing a wall and replacing it with a new support beam and columns. Columns allow for differentiation of places without obstructing much of the view, while providing the structural support of a load-bearing wall.

Let There Be Light

One of the best ways to increase the apparent size of a home without adding on is to bring more daylight into the interior. Increase the size of existing windows or place them adjacent to perpendicular walls and ceilings, allowing those surfaces to act as giant daylight reflectors. In addition, create openings between rooms to allow more of the available daylight to be seen from room to room.

Look to the Ceiling

Unify a remodeled space by creating a spatial theme with varied ceiling heights. Use lowered ceilings over subordinate spaces such as hallways, alcoves and smaller rooms, and higher ceilings over the more important rooms.

Use the Floor

Differentiate activity areas in an open space with a change in floor material or level. Changing materials creates a subtle boundary, while the addition of a step or two between rooms can be an excellent way to make a clear and pronounced differentiation.

Connect With the Outdoors

There's a terrific opportunity to expand the perceived boundaries of a home to the edge of its property line or beyond if there's access to a longer view. A home will feel several times larger if the location of the doors and windows draws in the surrounding views and allows easy movement to outside.

Bring the Inside Out

Create another room from which to enjoy the outdoors by sheltering an exterior sitting space from the elements with a widened overhang or a new segment of roof. The addition of a screened porch can also serve as an excellent connector between inside and out. During the summer months, it may be your most heavily used living space.

Create the Illusion of More Space

Differentiate surfaces with a belt line or a headband — a continuous line of trim that divides the upper part of the room from the lower part, such as a chair rail, wainscoting or molding that ties together the tops of all windows and doors. If the area below the line is darker in color than the area above, our eyes are led to believe the ceiling height is taller than it really is, which makes the whole space seem bigger.

Create Visual Vitality

Make a living space come alive by accentuating a focal wall with a deep paint color. Alternatively, a spotlight can be used to highlight a feature such as a painting or another piece of art to create a focal point for the room.

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