The secret to a great open-concept design

Local designer shows how she uses colour, furniture and art to pull the viewer in

Good continuity is the secret to a harmonious, open-concept home. As a professional designer, when I’m tasked to create a wall-less, open area in a home, where one space blends into the next, I incorporate a common theme throughout.

In this home, I employed a motif of crisp white, blue and rustic wood, which combine to evoke an understated nautical vibe that echoes through this home’s main floor.

In this dining area, the navy blue hue of the rug, dining chairs and artwork is so rich and deep, it pulls you right in.

There’s something so serene about the combination of blue and white, and this result can be achieved even when these colours are added in small doses.

But bringing you back to the surface are the large and plentiful windows and white walls, which serve to amplify the abundant natural light in this bright corner.

Overhead, a staggered cluster of simple, clear, Edison bulb-inspired pendants offers the option of night-time illumination without blocking out any daylight or the view.

If you’re blessed with oodles of natural light, a dark colour palette can be your best friend.

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A rich, deep shade of blue, burgundy or green can lend a wonderfully rich, dramatic ambiance, without leaving your home feeling closed in, as dark colours are known to do.

TIP: Any interior decorator worth their salt will tell you that a great piece of art is equal parts canvas and frame. You need something to complement the art and draw attention to it, without detracting from it.

This same principle was applied to the windows in this dining area. The dark-painted window trim becomes a decadent punctuation point in this space, highlighting the abundant windows, their composition and their views.

This notable navy blue colour subtly carries into the kitchen in the form of striking blue leather-upholstered breakfast bar stools.

Behind them, the crisp, white cabinetry and backsplash are perfectly on trend, with simple details and an overall clean, serene look.


Wrapping the space, grey-toned barn-board walls and hardwood floors underfoot are reminiscent of driftwood and contribute to the nautical theme of the space.

The wood panels extend into the adjoining living area, cladding the chimney and rear wall with its rustic, warm aesthetic.

Flanking the fireplace, a pair of white sideboards echo the kitchen palette, lined with a thoughtful collection of curios for visual interest. An industrial-style wood-and-steel coffee table and an oversized iron chandelier overhead complete the look.

When selecting pieces to fit within your chosen theme, avoid overtly obvious displays – like a nautical theme featuring fishing rods and anchors at every turn. Instead, consider different materials, textures, colours and shape that remind you of your motif.

Here, I complement the white and blue colour palette with wood furniture, rope and woven accents, and light, “beachy” fabrics.

This stunning open-concept dining-kitchen-living area is exactly what my clients had hoped to achieve. The space is relaxed yet refined, and welcomes its residents and guests to sit, eat and enjoy.

Sara Bederman is a midtown resident, whose company Sara Bederman Design is based in Forest Hill. It provides residential design services across the GTA and beyond. See her website at and see more of her work on Instagram.

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Posted: Jun 10 2019 3:59 pm
Filed in: Home  VIEWS