Beams and posts are necessary to support the structural integrity of homes, but more and more houses, especially those with open floor plans, are leaving beams and posts exposed as design elements.

An open floor plan refers to a home with a central room, also called a “great room,” that integrates the main living spaces—the kitchen, dining room, and living room—into one open room. Homes with open floor plans often have exposed beams or posts because the great room lacks the walls and ceilings to hide them.

Open floor plans are perfect for most families because they bring family members together by keeping the main action of the house in the central room. Families nowadays spend a majority of their time in the kitchen, so combining the kitchen and living room helps families spend more time together as they go about their daily tasks.

Families can convert their closed floor plans into open ones by removing walls between the kitchen and living room and turning the crucial posts and beams into beautiful design features. Here are a few inspirations for converting your structural posts and beams into beautiful interior accents.

Habitat Post and Beam Example.

Posts and beams abound in this great room by Habitat Post and Beam. Wooden beams are commonly exposed in rooms with vaulted ceilings. In this example the beams and posts work together to provide framing for the windows and the balcony for the second floor.

Post and Beam Example.

The open floor plan in this Case Design/Remodeling uses posts and the adjacent island to provide some separation between the kitchen and living room without blocking the view or natural light.

Natural Light with Posts and Beams.

Natural and industrial materials work together beautifully in this open floor plan by Sutton Suzuki Architects. The iron posts, cement wall, and fireplace surround in the adjacent sitting room offset the wooden rafters, which are common in many houses with exposed beams.

Mueller Nicholls Cabinets and Construction.

Exposed beams create a beautiful pattern on the ceiling that draws the eye upward and provides sound structure for the second story. Image courtesy of Mueller Nicholls Cabinets and Construction.

Posts are necessary in both the framing and center of the home, while beams can be found in the framing of the roof, ceiling, and floors off the ground level. Next time you’re in any home besides your own, take a look around. Some posts and beams are disguised better than others, but chances are you can find at least one that’s being used as both a structural and design element.

About the Author: Joaquin Erazo, Jr., senior vice president of Marketing and Public Relations for Case Remodeling and Design, writes about a range of home remodeling and interior design trends on his company blog, Remodeling Tips & Trends.

**Little House Notes: I personally love open floor plans in homes. They use space more efficiently and give the appearance of more room in smaller homes. Exposed beams in vaulted ceilings are a great architectural style.