2 Ways to Create Privacy in Open Homes
Ask any real estate agent, open floor plans are hot – and they’ll only get hotter, as homeowners crave communal spaces where the whole family can interact. Still, even the most family-oriented people need privacy once in a while.
“People like open floor plans because of the way we live today,” says Kati Curtis, principal designer at Kati Curtis Design in New York. “A lot of people come home from work and do a bunch of things at the same time: cook dinner, watch TV, play with their kids, and respond to emails.”
Open floor plans make this multitasking possible. The problem is, “People who live in a home with an open floor plan might not know how to divide it up into private spaces,” says Natalie Myers, owner of Veneer Designs in Los Angeles.
Luckily, walls aren’t the only way to create private spaces. Homeowners might choose to build half-walls instead, Curtis says: “If you have 12- to 18-foot ceilings, you can build a wall that goes up 7 feet or so. This still lets a lot of great light in, but it will create some visual privacy.”
Even half-walls might seem to defeat the purpose of open floor plans, though. Furniture can mimic the same look. “Buy a tall, double-sided bookcase, and fill up the shelves to visually hide a part of the room,” Curtis recommends. “It’s important to make sure it looks great from both sides, so you might need to get it custom made.”
Since large pieces of furniture are difficult to move regularly, some might opt for temporary solutions like draperies and curtains. It’s a flexible solution that offers varying levels of privacy: With a track along the ceiling, curtains can cordon off any part of a room and open and close depending on the space usage.
Curtis adds, “The curtain can be sheer or something heavier with lots of texture to add interest to the space.”
When deciding which areas of the space to make more private, lifestyle is the biggest factor. “Think about how you really live. If you want to be able to eat without someone in the living area seeing you, put a console up that will hide the dining table from the TV area,” Curtis says. “Or if you have young children and also entertain a lot, put some taller storage pieces to hide the kids’ play area from the dining room.”
Most people want an office area that feels private, Myers says. To achieve this, turn “clusters of furniture away from the center of the room to create privacy without adding any visual barriers.”
In addition, “Angle your desk so that it faces away from the rest of the room. That way the computer screen won’t be seen by anybody else.”
Some open floor plans don’t even have separate bedrooms. “In that case, surround your bed with curtain panels hanging from the ceiling so it can become a mini room in a larger space,” Myers suggests.
Once you’ve decided which areas to separate, you might wonder how to decorate such an open space. Myers says, “A huge dramatic light fixture becomes the focal point of the room. You’ll be able to see it from any of the smaller areas within the larger space.”