Designing for the Modern Family — Functional Spaces and Open Floor Plans

picture of an open space living area in Dallas Texas

There’s a reason open floor plans are so popular. We think the main reason is because people want their home to be a sanctuary and to see their loved ones. Many of us have both parents working so being with our spouse and children is a premium that we want to guard. 

The open floor plans allow us to be in the presence of our family. Let’s take a look at some thoughts about planning functional spaces and open floor plans. 

Plan Ahead and Have a Family Room Meeting

First thing’s first! You need to plan your family room. You can do this by mapping out where you’d like to place the furniture, what size room you have, and where you’d like to create an exit. You can even mark where the walls will be and what color scheme you’d like. 

Once you’ve mapped out the room, write a family room checklist to make sure the room will support your family’s needs and stay intact for a long time.

Keep it Simple and Focus on the Essential Item of Flow

Figure out how you move through your rooms. Do you walk through this room to get from one part of the house to another? You might find that your home flows better if you move an entrance over five feet or take out a wall completely. 

Your flooring choice might also affect your feeling of flow. If you go from carpeting to hardwood floors to tile, it makes you feel your home is broken up and feel smaller than it is. To help with the flow, you may consider choosing one flooring open for the entire open living area and hallways. 

Create a Space Where Everyone Can Breathe

When you have a large family, you’ll likely find that the living space is too small to provide the amount of breathing space you and your family need. Try to make every space in the house feel spacious and allow circulation. 

One way to do this is by creating functional areas so everyone has enough room to move around and be comfortable. For example, in your open floor plan you could have an area for formal dining, an area of quick meals (like seating at an island), and a sitting area around the fireplace defined by a rug.

Not only will this give you some flexibility, but it’ll also keep your functional space areas looking neat and organized, especially if you keep the line of sight low so you can see your family and friends. 

Significant Changes to Your Living Area Structure

Once you figure out the flow of your open space and the functional spaces, you need to look at what changes should or could be made to your living area. 

The most obvious way to open things up is by taking down a wall or a couple of walls. You’ll be amazed at how much larger your home will feel when you do this. It helps with both the flow and the living areas. 

You can also move doorways as mentioned earlier or do an addition. And then raising a ceiling can make things feel even more open. 

We recently took down a wall between a kitchen and the next room and it made a significant difference. Take a look at the pictures. 


The family room is an important room in any home, and it’s especially important in those homes with large families. It’s the perfect place to relax with your loved ones, share meals, and host family gatherings. Whether your family consists of one or 15 members, the room can do a lot to support your family’s well-being.

From how you design your family room to how you prepare your home for family gatherings, your family room can become a hub of family activities. Make sure to give it the attention it deserves, and you’ll be glad you did.

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