Closed floor plans and segmented spaces are so 20th century. Today’s most desirable homes are open, airy, and full of light. The emphasis is on visual “breathability” and open sightlines.
The problem is that not all homes are naturally designed this way. If you have an older house – particularly a ranch-style home or something built pre-1980s – you’re likely dealing with some architectural constraints. Thankfully, most of them can be addressed in a strategic way.
Try These 5 Tactics
As you think about ways to make your house feel more open, here are several powerful tactics that come recommended by leading interior designers, architects, and real estate professionals.
1. Use Lighter Colors
Paint colors have a direct impact on how big or small a space feels. Think strategically about which tones and hues you use throughout your home.
“It’s no secret that light colors make a room look larger, especially if the space is bathed in natural light,” designer Gabrielle Savoie notes. “Eggshell or satin finishes will help reflect the light, creating the appearance of even more space.”
Light pastels and grays can also work well. But for best results, avoid colors like black, dark green, or deep reds. These all have a way of making rooms feel tighter and more constricted.
2. Let There Be (Natural) Light
Nothing says “open and airy” like lots of natural light. If you have good windows on the east- and west-facing sides of the home, it’s pretty easy to get good light. If you don’t, you may have to get creative. Options include adding new windows or even installing a skylight. (Skylights are great for interior rooms that don’t have the option of adding windows.)
3. Limit Visual Restrictions
Open sightlines are one of the defining characteristics of breathable homes. You don’t necessarily need a clear shot from the front of the house to the back of the house, but you do want to limit big visual restrictions.
For example, let’s say you have a second-story balcony with a small porch on the backside of your home. Rather than having a brick wall or solid wood railing, a glass railing system helps you maintain visibility while still creating some physical separation and protection. Small details like this have a positive impact on the overall feel of your home.
4. Declutter Everywhere
Few things make a house feel overwhelming quite like clutter. It’s visually distracting and makes rooms feel tight. The simple solution is to declutter.
Having fewer possessions is not only visually freeing, but it’s also emotionally rewarding. While it goes against what the culture tells us, the reality is that people often find they’re less stressed and happier when they own fewer things.
The best way to declutter is to go room by room and take inventory of every single item. From each individual paperclip to piece of furniture, account for everything. Each item then gets an assignment: keep, sell, donate, or trash. The only things you keep are items that currently serve a functional purpose and/or bring you joy.
5. Use Low Furniture
Furniture is just as much aesthetic as it is functional. It impacts the look and feel of a room. If you have lots of tall and chunky furniture, it actually partitions the room and minimizes sightlines. Low furniture, on the other hand, contributes to a sense of openness.
“Furniture that is lower to the ground will create a feeling of openness in a room simply by the fact that they leave more space above them,” Remodelista mentions. “In the bedroom, choose a loft bed or even try placing a mattress directly on the floor. In the living room, embrace your inner Mad Men-style with low-to-the-ground midcentury pieces. Or, if your tastes run more toward the romantic and ornate, 19th-century furniture also has a low profile.”
This is one of those underutilized tactics that people forget about. If you’re already in the market for new furniture, you might as well look into some low and shallow options.
Make Your House Feel Like a Home
Your house should feel open, comfortable, and inviting – not cold and segmented. By prioritizing open sightlines, lots of natural light, and a minimalist aesthetic, you can turn your house into the home that you’ve always wanted. Use these tips to really take your design to the next level.