Open floor plan family room
Southern Living, Laurey Glenn

Distinguish the area.

Even though you want room to breathe in an open floor plan, it's important to have pieces of furniture or architectural elements to identify each "room." Here, the fireplace and open shelving serve as a focal point and let you know you've arrived in the family room.

Tour this family room.

Master bathroom divided with panels
Southern Living, Laurey Glenn

Use dividers.

With no walls to divide a space, find other pieces to take their place. Folding screens or a set of chairs with a table in between can do the trick. Or try Definitions Panels from Armstrong (shown here in the master bath) for a sleek, contemporary look.

Tour this master bath.

Neutral colored study
Southern Living, Laurey Glenn

Use color for flow.

Choose a color palette to use throughout the floor plan, and stick to it. In this home, inspiration comes from the outdoors. Neutral greens, browns, and blues give the space continuity, while pops of color in accents and artwork add personal appeal.

Tour this study.

Dining area in an open floor plan
Southern Living, Laurey Glenn

Make statements with lighting.

Another way to set a space apart from the other "rooms" in an open floor plan is to install a distinct light fixture. Instead of a chandelier, a large rectangular pendant dressed in a linen lampshade defines the dining area.

Tour this dining room.

Versatile porch
Southern Living, Van Chaplin

Open up to the outdoors.

Extend your open floor plan even further by incorporating an outdoor room. A covered porch or patio is extremely versatile -- add a table and chairs for dining, a hammock for relaxing, or even a set of appliances for cooking and grilling. The space will increase your square footage and give you more room for entertaining.

Tour this porch.

-- By Dawn Williams, Associate Editor

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