open floor plan: 5 Tips on how to define spaces in an open concept home.




This beautiful custom home we built in historic Stillwater, MN is grand, but we wanted the open concept home to still have areas where it felt cozy. When designing this floor plan with our design team and our in-house architectural designer, we were very intentional to create a space that felt open, but still defined each room. Here are some tips and creative ideas we used to define these rooms, but kept the spaces cohesive. Follow along as we take you on a tour of the foyer, kitchen, dining and living room of this home.

Custom stucco fireplace.

Tip #1 - Variety of ceiling heights

In this home, the entryway and living room are 2 stories tall. This gives the feeling of such a grand entrance, and even though you can see the living room as you enter, it is broken up with a catwalk dividing the space visually. The custom wood slat paneling also draws your eyes up as you enter the space, making this foyer feel enclosed and separate.

When you walk under the cat-walk and down the hall it has 10 ft tall ceilings, and is lined with beautiful custom white oak beams. The beams draw your eye down the hallway towards the office and master bedroom.


Hallway of beams, office decor

The dining room and kitchen are right off the grand 2-story living room. Bringing down the ceiling height in the dining room and kitchen, makes the spaces feel cozy. To make the dining room even COZIER we painted the ceiling and the posts a deep gray to give the illusion the ceiling was lower than the kitchen. In order to do this, we did need to use a trim piece on the ceiling to have a stopping point for the paint color.


Tip #2 - use the same color throughout to tie the spaces together

The moody gray color that is carried throughout each space is Grizzle Gray 7068 by Sherwin Williams. We used the color on the stucco fireplace in the living room, the ceiling and posts in the dining room and the custom cabinetry in the kitchen.

Another tip is to use the same color, in this case gray, but in different tones. This will bring dimension to your space and not make it so "matchy-matchy". Of course we always like to use white, black and wood tones as neutrals throughout the space.

  • Dark metallic gray (pewter) on pendants

  • Light metallic gray (silver) on dining chandelier.

  • Light gray on walls.

  • Gray veining in quartz countertops.

  • Different tones in decor and fabrics.


"I think when people have the freedom to tell their own story rather than trying to be specific to a certain design or style, there's more freedom, and it ends up feeling more like home. " – Joanna Gaines

Tip #3 - Make it personal

This home was staged to be a model home, but when it was time for the buyers to move in, we had fun ideas to give personal touches throughout the space that will create conversation pieces for your guests, but also make you feel happy every time you see it. This also brings a sense of coziness to each space.

  • Picture gallery walls with a mixture of professional photo shoots and candid photos. Sometimes people only display the professional photos like family photo sessions, school pictures or wedding photos, but mix in some candid photos to give your gallery wall personality. (Pro tip: make them all black and white photos to make them cohesive.)

  • Turn meaningful objects you have collected into shelf and table decor like books, decorative boxes and vases. Use larger items that you have collected such as bells, wooden pizza paddles or baskets as wall art.


Tip #4 - Rugs and Furniture placement

Area rugs are the ultimate way to define and ground a space. The most important thing when picking out an area rug is to get one that is big enough. You must be able to fit all your furniture on it.

Giving the living room it's own cozy feel with conversational furniture placement is important too. In this living room, the 2 club chairs are placed as you enter from the grand foyer. This gives a welcoming feeling from the front door right when you enter the room. The 2 couches are lining the space, giving it separation from the dining room.

Floor to ceiling windows, black stucco fireplace, floating white oak bench. Living room design and decor.

Tip #5 - Lighting

Lighting can make or break the "mood" of a space. Make sure to have all 3 types of lighting: ambient, task and accent lighting. This gives each zone of the large open space its own cozy feel.

  • Foyer: Large and unique lighting fixture that fills the space and makes the entrance feel grand.

  • Hallway: We kept this lighting simple with disc lighting to highlight the custom stained white oak beams. (If we did not do such a grand lighting fixture in the foyer, it would have been fun to do 5 globe pendants down this hallway in between the beams). Sconces or art showcase lights are always fun to add to this space as well.

  • Living Room: This room is 2 stories tall and we had a huge industrial fan. To make this space feel more cozy, there are table and floor lamps throughout the seating areas.

  • Dining Room: Large rectangle metal chandelier. It is silver on the outside, but gold on the inside, giving off a warm glow over the dining table.

  • Kitchen: there are 2 big dome pendant lights that are our favorite part of the kitchen. There is also disc lights, sconces and under cabinet lighting for mood lighting anytime of the day.

open floor plans that feel cozy:

We hope you liked the mini tour of this modern custom home and you got some fun ideas for your own house. Click here to see more of this beautiful home and follow us on instagram to see more new builds and renovation projects from the Style & Structure team.

If you live in MN or Western WI let us know if we can help out with any renovation projects or a build on your new build home! Contact one of our new home specialists.

Check out the fun music video our team put together for this award winning house!


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