It’s Spring, officially - the time of year when many homeowners’ thoughts turn to moving forward with the renovations they’ve dreamed up during the Winter.
Once it’s possible to open the windows and doors for ventilation, it seems natural to create clouds of dust by pulling down interior walls, for example.
Often people dream of creating more open floor plans, particularly if they’re extraverts. Connecting interior spaces by knocking down walls can be a tricky business, one that should never be attempted without an architect’s advice. Sometimes, unwanted walls are holding up things, like the floor above, so their removal requires that the structure be supported in alternate ways. Even when walls can be removed, doing so may leave scars on flooring, ceilings, and walls that can only be eliminated with tremendous effort.
So, many walls that have been imagined away remain.
There are things that homeowners can do, however, to make a set of rooms on a floor seem connected, even when the walls between them stay up.
One straightforward way to make a set of spaces seem to flow together is to design them so that being in each area makes people feel the same way. Use the same colors on walls, the same sort of flooring and rugs, the same window treatments, the same style of furniture with the same upholstery fabrics, the same lighting (hopefully, much of that natural light, it boosts our mood), in all the entire set of spaces to be “linked.” Make sure the areas all have the same “theme” – relaxed country cabin, day at the beach, etc.
If it’s not possible to use exactly the same materials throughout all of the areas to be tied together, perhaps not enough curtains are available in a certain fabric, make selections that are from the same color family with roughly the same sort of pattern/theme (florals, seaside, whatever) – all the items chosen should blend neatly together. Choices need to have enough variation so it doesn’t seem that you ran out of something or other and tried desperately to match whatever you ran out of, but instead that you used a slightly modified form intentionally.
When picking walls and ceiling colors, make selections that make each space seem spacious; that will increase the likelihood that areas seem to flow together. The colors on both walls and ceilings should be light, lighter colors will make them seem a little farther away than they actually are. Since people generally want their homes to be relaxing, less saturated wall colors are also a good idea – that means a color like sage green, with a lot of white mixed into it, can be a good choice.
A very light scent, one you enjoy, used in all of the rooms to be connected also makes them seem linked together. Can’t pick a scent? Try a lemon or orange one as a test.
The most powerful tool for making a set of rooms seem connected is to is provide views from one into another (that’s known technically as extending sight lines). The best option for extending sight lines is to the position chairs in each of the rooms to be linked so that when you’re sitting in them you can see into the coupled-to rooms. Whoever has the strongest desire to knock down walls should have first crack at each of these “long-view” seats – whether they’re chairs by the living room fireplace with a view through the dining room doorway and into the garden or a seat in a bedroom alcove with a vista that includes the naturally lit hallway and a distant den.
Sometimes, there’s no realistic way to get to no walls – then some of the tactics noted in the last few paragraphs can make a chopped up space seem like one open floor plan, almost.