Over the centuries, our homes have evolved to suit our ever-changing lifestyles. Floor plans, construction methods and interior design trends have changed to accommodate how we live today. As a result, many of us aspire to make sure that the interiors of our homes come together beautifully and seamlessly. One way you can achieve this is by embracing an open plan living room layout, regardless of the size of your home. Here are five important pointers to set you on the right path.

Reassess your floor space
In an existing building, the task of opening up your living spaces may mean undertaking structural changes, which can be a bit daunting. However, in many instances, you can benefit from taking a long, hard look at how your current floor space is used and how you can make some improvements.

For example, if your home contains a living room, dining room, kitchen, playroom and study, you should assess the number of levels they occupy and whether some or all of them can be combined. This is not as fanciful as it might sound. For example, could you extend your living space to include a comfortable dining area so your dinner guests can have coffee on your comfy sofa after enjoying their meal? As long as the rooms used for living and dining are next to each other and the wall separating the original spaces is not a retaining wall – that is, supporting an upper floor – there is no reason why you can’t remove it.

Use “soft” room dividers
Remember that dining and living spaces can be identified as individual rooms by using different floor coverings or color schemes. If you crave a distinction between one space and the other, you can also use a softer partition between the physical spaces, such as a half wall, freestanding screen or folding shutter system. Clever natural and artificial lighting systems will also help you make a clear differentiation between, for example, your chosen areas for formal dining and more casual, friendly and relaxing spaces.

Remember to cater to everyone
To create activity zones within your open plan living space, you can introduce storage options as room dividers. This could include a unit that combines closed and open storage so it can house your TV for family viewing as well as your favorite sound systems so you can enjoy some relaxing downtime. Make sure there is a quiet area, equipped with suitable lighting, where you or the children can read a reasonable distance away from the TV.

Let in the light
Open plan designs help make your home look and feel more spacious and open up your living room to light and air. Letting in more natural light is beneficial for your health and well-being as well as that of your family. For better management of natural light, classic poplar window shutters are a great option. Shutters come in a range of styles and materials that will help you to control the amount of daylight in each part of your open plan living room according to the position of your windows, the time of day and the season. They also provide privacy as well as protection against external noise, making them a very useful extra security measure.

Use artificial light wisely
Artificial lighting options can also help you to create a specific ambiance in some or all of your open spaces. Make sure to choose the right lighting options for each part of your open plan and try to avoid harsh lighting that might make your living room look like it is washed out or overly bright. For the best results, use ambient lighting (which is often overhead lighting) for general purposes; task lighting for specific work like sewing, reading or study areas; and mood lighting to make subtle changes to the overall lighting environment.

Finally, a major bonus that comes with opening up your living space is the capacity to introduce over-sized features, whether this is an impressively big piece of furniture, a very large patterned rug or an inspirational work of art. You might also opt for wallpaper with a bold pattern or wall paint in vibrant colors. Such items might crowd out a smaller space, but when they are placed in the context of a wide-open living room, each is well placed to provide a key focal point. It is important to be comfortable in your own home and that is often what drives change.