9 golden rules of colouring your open plan layout

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
The Bath Shaker Kitchen by deVOL deVOL Kitchens Industrial style kitchen
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In today’s modern age, the open floor plan layout is on the rise – and with good reason, considering the abundance of benefits it brings us. It’s great for entertaining when you want everybody together, and it allows you to keep an eye on the kids as they play in the adjoining room

Yet, when it comes to colour and paint choices for the open floor plan, many people hit a brick wall. Nobody wants a bland and boring open area, which is precisely what a lack of colour can accomplish. On the other hand, too much colour can result in a disjointed space filled with visual clutter.

Finding the right balance in between can be quite tricky, which is why homify is here…

1. A neutral backdrop




With a neutral backdrop (such as classic white, cream, or a light grey), wallpaper, textured walls, and contrasting finishes can bring some textural variance to your open-floor layout. Even styles that are far removed from each other, like eclectic, contemporary, and shabby chic, can co-exist quite charmingly together with a unifying background in open plan living room, kitchen and dining areas.

2. Accessorise

Venus Boardroom/Dining Table SOAP designs Modern dining room
SOAP designs

Venus Boardroom/Dining Table

SOAP designs

More often than not, an open plan houses the kitchen, dining space, and living room. So, break them up with colourful accessories.

Bright accent cushions, or even a striking couch, can add colour to the living room, visually separating it from that large, vintage buffet or dramatic artwork in the dining room. 

And for the kitchen? How about patterned china on the shelves or a bright backsplash? Or, how about considering contrasting or bold shades for the dining room paint ideas?

3. Have a seat

Floreat Residence, Perth, Western Australia Moda Interiors Modern living room
Moda Interiors

Floreat Residence, Perth, Western Australia

Moda Interiors

Another popular way to anchor a large space is to create a central seating area. And with our world of choices in terms of couches, sofas, wingback chairs and more (not to mention fabric colours, textures, and patterns), this can make for some terrific focal points in your open plan. 

Dare to have a look at these: Unbelievably Comfortable And Sumptuous Sofas.

4. Check the corners

Don’t limit your open plan to just one paint colour. Even an open space has some angles and corners where you can naturally start and stop with different colours. Be creative with some bold tones and patterns, which can help to make the space feel more comfortable.

5. Different shades

Living room homify Modern living room

Living room


A clear way to keep your open plan layout integrated without painting everything the same colour is to opt for different shades of the same colour (i.e. fern green and moss green, cherry red and candy red). 

Another option would be to choose colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel, such as dark blues with purples, red with oranges, yellows with lime greens, etc. 

Both of these ways opt for very little colour contrast, meaning you won’t have as much difficulty visually transitioning from one space to the next.

6. When it comes to kitchen cabinets

The Bath Shaker Kitchen by deVOL deVOL Kitchens Industrial style kitchen
deVOL Kitchens

The Bath Shaker Kitchen by deVOL

deVOL Kitchens

If you have an open kitchen and you want to stain your cabinets, opt for a dark finish. Those deeper stains can provide a rich and elegant look that can also help to make a vast kitchen feel more cosy and welcoming. 

Be sure to check out our decadent range of kitchen planners here on homify.

7. Defining and uniting

A bright backsplash in your kitchen, a living room sofa in the same colour, and bright pendant lighting in a similar hue in the dining space instantly shape a flowing visual and tie together different sections of your open floor space.

8. Using features

Architectural features can also help with colour transitions. Touches like ceiling beams, large windows, and built-in shelves are just a few we can mention here, yet there are many. 

If the transitioning space is marked by a ceiling beam, use it by changing the ceiling colour, but keep the walls the same. 

Furniture pieces like bookcases or mantels can also be used to add interest to a monochromatic wall.

9. Focus on the floor

Sundown, Widemouth Bay, Cornwall The Bazeley Partnership Modern living room
The Bazeley Partnership

Sundown, Widemouth Bay, Cornwall

The Bazeley Partnership

Flooring or area rugs can also be used to separate or connect adjoining spaces in an open layout. For example, if you paint the dining room and living room in strongly contrasting colours (let’s say blue and orange), connect them with rugs that include both colours.

The hues of the wall and rugs don’t have to match precisely, though; even if they differ a few shades, the eye will still perceive them as closely related.

The Significance of the Dining Room in the Open Plan Layout

Most open plan kitchen-dining-living room designs feature the dining room in the centre. It could be a connecting space sandwiched between the living room and kitchen in a rectangular layout or the elbow in an L-shaped arrangement. Thus, the dining room colours should be chosen carefully, whether it’s to create a contrast or a fluid design. In this example, it gently merges the colours in the two areas by carrying through the white upholstery present in the living area while introducing the darker tones in the kitchen through dark-toned wood on the dining set.

Choosing dining room colour schemes

When choosing the colour scheme for the dining room, besides considering how the colours coordinate or contrast those in the living room and kitchen, experts recommend opting for a palette that creates the desired mood. Bright colours work well in infusing a cheerful and casual vibe in an informal dining room. In contrast, sophisticated hues such as purple can lend a luxurious look to a formal dining area.

If you found these tips useful, check out some tips on what to do and not to do for a perfect summer house.

Did we miss anything? What other tips can you think of when it comes to colouring an open layout? Share your thoughts with us...

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