A guide to broken plan living

Broken plan living has been emerging as a popular trend since the pandemic began, providing a happy medium between closed and open plan layouts, which as we looked at in last month’s blog, both come with challenges. As people spend more time at home it’s accelerated the need for multi-functional space and somewhere to work, exercise and relax.

Broken plan living is all about partly dividing rooms, to create distinct identities and boundaries in open areas, allowing households to enjoy the space together, but still have a sense of privacy without disturbing each other. Creating different zones within the home is a practical alternative, as it gives the structure of closed plan, whilst maintaining the better flow of light and space from open plan.

Broken plan living is flexible and lets people create as much or as little division between different areas as they like, allowing homeowners to adapt their floor plan to suit their lifestyles.

In this blog, we’ll look at structural, semi-permanent or cosmetic ways you can achieve a broken plan layout.

Structural changes

Split levels

As people begin to crave versatile modern living, changing levels within the home can provide just that.

Having a split level by adding a mezzanine or lowering floors can create a visual distinction between zones that serve different purposes. For instance, having a separate kitchen and eating space can create a distinction between a busy area and somewhere more relaxing for eating.

Steps and a glass balustrade can help to keep the space linked and allow light to reach the upper floor, creating a continuous light and airy space.

Varying ceiling heights

Varying ceiling heights can also show a change in use from area to area. If you don’t want to make a structural change, you can also achieve this effect by varying the shade of paint you choose, using darker paint colours on your ceiling to draw the space in, or give it an expansive feeling of height with lighter shades.

Half walls

A half wall or a low partition wall can create a more permanent distinction between spaces and isn’t an expensive or involved project.

It allows the space to be free-flowing and divided, whilst offering a practical solution to open plan living, as you can place storage against it like a low bench seat and it gives you somewhere to mount the TV. Adding columns can also create a statement and serve a practical purpose.

Bi-fold doors inside

Bi-fold doors are a popular choice for leading out onto the garden, as it helps to connect the indoors to the outside, but they can also work really well inside the house.

Bi-fold doors add great flexibility to an open ground floor layout, as they can fold back almost invisibly when not in use. Bi-fold doors are ideal for closing off the kitchen/diner from the rest of the house, helping to reduce smoke and smells, or to reduce noise and provide privacy in a home office space.

Widen doorways

A minor change that can be made to closed plan layouts is to widen doorways. This works particularly well between kitchen and dining rooms as it helps to unify the space.

Glass partitions

Glass is a very popular interior design choice for 2022. A glass partition wall creates a distinction of space, without losing the sense of space that you would with a solid partition wall. Glass partitions are particularly effective when taken right up to the roof, as you gain an extra room without blocking off the light.


Adding windows to closed room layouts is a great way to stay connected, whilst having some privacy. It works well if your main living area also doubles up as a home office space, as it can create a quieter working zone, away from the busyness of everyday life. Having windows overlooking the garden also helps to bring a sense of calm, bringing the outdoors in.


Fireplaces create a warm cosy feeling, whilst making a great focal point and stand out feature in your home. Dividing a room with a fireplace, complete with chimney, can help you to divide the room whilst leaving lots of space for an open plan feeling.


By making semi-permanent changes to your home, you can create different zones to structure and compartmentalise your space which can be adapted as your needs change. This is ideal if you are planning to move house, as you can take the solutions with you.


Partitions are one of the best ways to create a semi-divided flexible space, they can be moveable or permanently fixed, depending on how you want to use the space.


One of the simplest ways to create a distinctive area within a room is to position statement high backed furniture, such as sofas, chairs and cupboard units, to create small cosy areas for relaxing in.

Central storage unit

A great way to ‘break’ up an open-plan room and create a clearly marked out zone, is to build a central storage unit.

By placing the storage unit in the centre of the space, a large room becomes two connected but individual areas. This solution is a revelation as it provides lots of practical storage space to keep your room clutter free.

Open shelving

Open shelving works in much the same way, clearly dividing your space and providing much needed storage – but also allows the light to filter through, making a bright airy space. Tiered shelving and bookshelves could also be used to create a separate home office or study area.

Moveable screens

Moveable screens are the perfect backdrop for video calls, as they can help define the space and create cosiness. 

Sliding panels are also effective, as you can move them back out of the way. If you wanted a semi-permanent use of the space, you could opt for a wooden panel.

Cosmetic changes

Colour and texture

Painting walls in contrasting colours can help to divide a space. For instance, painting cosier living spaces with darker colours, to contrast against light bright colours for a clean kitchen space.

Statement wallpaper or different textured accessories can help to create a different mood and divide your living space.

Different flooring

Introducing different flooring can help to compartmentalise the space and give each area its own identity. Selecting carpet for the living space and tiles in the kitchen, for example, can create boundaries in open areas and help to lead guests through from one living space to another.

We hope this blog has given you lots of ideas on how to create the right living space for you. Keep an eye on our blogs for more inspiration for your home.