Hooks and Frocks

It was a no-brainer that NZ’ers would fall head over heels with open plan living. We love relaxed family living and informal entertaining so it perfectly suits our laid back Kiwi lifestyle.

And there’s no denying there are many advantages. Removing a few walls will make space seem bigger and improve its natural light. It socially connects spaces which bring the family together and it increases indoor-outdoor flow by connecting more of the house to the garden.

For most NZ’ers these positives far outweigh any negatives.

So yes, it may mean that a messy kitchen is on show, but we think that beats slaving over a hot stove in a separate kitchen all on your own.

There are a few tricks to successfully planning and furnishing open plan spaces. They need to be functional, inviting and aesthetically pleasing. All 3 aspects are important. However as a home is for living, the most important aspect will be how you experience the space. It’s a place to retreat to and socialise in so it needs to feel right and connect with your senses. Looking fabulous is the icing on the cake.

A large under-furnished room will not provide the experience you need. It will not be inviting or somewhere you choose to relax and linger.

The challenge is to ensure whole space feels unified, but to also define zones. To separate the kitchen, dining and living areas in a way that naturally breaks the spaces but still allows flow.

Architectural features like lowered ceilings, breakfast bars and islands and fireplaces all help, but are expensive to incorporate if not already there.

So the Paper Room has put together its list of fundamentals for open plan living success.

First Create Unity.  Use recurring themes in the décor with colour, style, texture and pattern as the common link that ties things together.

Then Define Zones. Create nooks and crannies so your open plan space doesn’t reveal everything at once. Spaces that are slightly obscured allow a sense of discovery and provide corners to retreat to. Use furniture to define the spaces and create borders, with consoles, tables, free-standing bookcases, or oversize plants. These all help anchor the room and will help create rooms within the room.


Provide multiple focal points. There’s nothing more boring than reading a room in a single glance. Introduce multiple focal points to keep the eye travelling and to help create visual separation for different functions.

Upsize. Don’t be scared to go up in scale with key statement pieces. Whether they’re artworks, mirrors, pendant lights or rugs, bookcases or, room dividers, think big.

And finally, although we love open plan living, we think it’s even better if you’re lucky enough to have an additional living space for those who enjoy a bit of peace, quiet and solitude to really retreat to when needed.





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