A retractable bamboo screen divides the two rooms without blocking the view.

How to Combine a Living Room and a Kitchen

by Margaret Everton

The blurring of boundaries between your kitchen and living room allows you to move freely between the two rooms. You like the openness. You like the flow. But combining the two rooms to form one large practical space is a challenge. You want to create continuity between the living room area and the kitchen without it looking like one indistinguishable room. This open floor plan that allows you freedom and versatility requires additional forethought to create a seamless flow.

Color Your World

Coordinating color within the two rooms can create both a continuity and spacial distinction. Choose three colors that you can use in various combinations in both your kitchen and living room. A combo of one warm, one cool and one neutral -- gray, mustard yellow and navy blue, for instance -- can give you versatility. Incorporate a proportion of each color in both rooms. Paint the walls gray and use navy bowls and a navy kitchen backsplash to coordinate with a navy loveseat -- or a mustard chaise to pull out the mustard in your kitchen vases.

Create Dynamic Detailing

Harmonize the small and seemingly insignificant details throughout both rooms. Using the same metal finish for all drawer pulls, handles, wall frames and lamp metals creates a subtle cohesion between the rooms. Match your kitchen drawer knobs to your living room reading lamp. Pair the industrial silver light fixture hanging above the kitchen island with similar industrial silver floor lamps beside your sectional. Draw out the brushed metal of your fridge by framing your living room pictures and art with brushed metal.

Consider the Kitchen

Since the kitchen will be visible any time you spend time in the living room, you want to make sure that you like what you see. Create easily accessible storage for the kitchen equipment that you frequently use but don't want to constantly display. Even a small-sized kitchen island can provide for more storage while blocking the stove and oven area, if you'd like them out of sight. For a modern living area, high-gloss cabinets with no visible knobs or pulls creates a sleek blank slate as a background. On the other hand, an open kitchen provides the opportunity to showcase your china and favorite servingware. Replace traditional closed cabinets with open shelving or glass-fronted cabinets to add visual detail to the entire area.

Create Boundaries

Though it may seem that the entire point of an open floor plan is to dissolve boundaries, it's boundaries that make this space work. While creating a flow between the two rooms, keep them distinct with a dividing mark. Use a piece of furniture such as a kitchen island or a low open bookshelf that can be accessed from both sides. Back your couch or sectional up to the kitchen's border. Kitchen paint and living room wallpaper can meet at the rooms' diving line. If you like all-white walls, divide the room by installing wood flooring in the living room and stone tiling in the kitchen.

About the Author

Margaret Everton is a Portland, Ore.-based writer. She often writes about architecture and design, and has worked for companies like Houzz and CalFinder, among others. While living in Los Angeles, she ran a design studio. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from Brigham Young University in 2003.

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