The secret, say design experts, is in the way you use different tones of color and paint ideas to create distinct areas or ‘zones’ within one open-plan space. It’s the multifunctional room color idea that will bring order to your ever-busy home life.  ‘There is no easier, quicker, or simpler way to cleverly zone a room than through paint,’ says Helen Shaw, UK Director of Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab). She explains that zoning is a ‘clear-cut and non-negotiable way’ to designate an area for a specific task and make your room feel more organized and structured – without the investment. Here’s what you need to know before browsing more open-plan living room ideas.

How to zone open-plan rooms with paint 

This decorating idea depends on how you want your open-plan space to work, but the starting point remains the same for every style of home.  ‘Consider the different functions that the space needs to perform, as well as the natural structure of the room,’ Helen explains. Whatever you want from your home, she suggests drawing from the ‘architecture of the space’ to lean into your existing structure, and using paint to solidify the boundaries.  ‘Following the existing divides of the room is the easiest way to seamlessly zone the space, avoiding any awkward clashing lines and making sure the room flows,’ Helen explains. ‘If the existing structure of the room works for you, then paint allows you to easily distinguish between the zones, making it really simple to separate areas within the home.’ Homes & Gardens’ Editor in Chief Lucy Searle agrees: ‘You needn’t use color as dramatically as demonstrated in the spaces below; you could, for example, swap out the yellow in both spaces for a neutral, even white, but the visual link created by the green in both rooms performs exactly the same job as it would in an open-plan space – creating unity, or zones.’

How to zone open-plan rooms with furnishings

Using paint is one of the most effective ways to zone your home, but as Helen suggests, you can accentuate the distinction through your furnishing choices too.  ‘Complement this technique with cleverly placed dining tables, sofas, or rugs to help further define separate areas within the home,’ the expert explains. And when it comes to choosing accessories, Helen recommends investing in a desk lamp (in your office) or color-coordinated cushions (in your living room) to ‘create a pleasant, unbroken flow within the room and throughout your home.’ ‘The trick to creating zones with furniture, such as the placement of a high-backed sofa to divide a living space from a dining space, or a rug beneath a dining table to define a dining zone,’ says Lucy Searle, ‘is not to labor this use of accent colors; subtly matching tones rather than one overt shade is much more effective.’