Open-concept homes are common now, but they take lots of planning to look bright, spacious and inviting. Melody Bay offers eight tips on how to demarcate areas while adding style and functionality
1. Room separators or screens
Also known as feature panels, they usually come in sets of four to eight. They offer partial privacy and some soundproofing, while sectioning spaces in style.
Ms Shermaine Ong, co-founder of home-grown interior design firm MOW Interior, says: "The noise level tends to be higher in an open-concept home. There is still a need for partially divided areas."
Tip: When shopping for screens, check the materials. Some are made from wood while others have paper-based panels that are translucent and prone to damage.
If you like changing things up every now and then, carpets or rugs are an excellent way to define a space while keeping things flexible. According to Ms Ong, living rooms are the best place for a large carpet as it grounds the sofa and pulls an overall comfortable look together.
Tip: Carpet runners are excellent for sprucing up empty corridors.
3. Two-way shelves
You can custom-build or buy ready-made shelves, which are flexible and practical. They can be used as display space or help divide a room.
Tip: Mix and match bigger and smaller or taller and shorter display pieces to create a layered look.
4. Half walls
These separate spaces without closing them off from the light and views of the rest of the home.
They also provide some privacy and can incorporate inset shelves or niches for books and other items without overwhelming the space.
Tip: Keep a half wall as it is or install folding soundproof glass panels at the top half if you intend to use the space as a study where you can also hold Zoom meetings.
A platform distinguishes different areas without calling too much attention to itself. It also adds a sense of scale to the design and a decorative touch.
Tip: If you have space, try raising the floor level in an awkward nook and add storage beneath it.
6. Ceiling design
Varying the ceiling design can change the visual impression of a space.
For example, having the ceiling in the living room clad in panels can help draw the eye upwards and elevates it immediately. You can also opt for cove lighting, which subtly outlines the ceiling at night.
Tip: Painting the ceiling in a mood-enhancing hue also draws the eye upwards, and makes a room feel and appear larger.
This can anchor the look of a home. Large, visually commanding pendant lamps can serve as focal points for a dining area while other areas can be distinguished with track lighting.
The degree of lighting can also separate spaces. For instance, you can have warmer, dimmer lighting in the lounge for watching television and brighter lighting in the kitchen.
Mr Joseph Ho, co-founder of home-grown lighting company Sol Luminaire, says: "Lighting design allows specific spaces to come into focus when the lights are switched on. Ambient lighting, for example, improves the sense of warmth and depth of a space for get-togethers."
Tip: Get lighting that offers dim to warm qualities, such as Sol Luminaire's Aeon Globula and Voli series.
8. Colour blocking
This adds personality and lets you segment areas without spending too much. Choose different tiles, textures, furniture or wall colours. They can be contrasting or subtle, allowing spaces to flow into one another. But stick to two or three colours or patterns to keep the overall look cohesive.
Tip: Juxtaposing contrasting colours in different blocks and shapes can make a space brighter.
This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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