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New interior trend: The broken plan layout

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Country style dining room by Spegash Interiors Country
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Time and trend are both fleeting, and that’s been proven once again with the introduction of the new ‘broken plan’ layout. This is a unique (and dare we say it, refreshing) twist on the age-old open-plan layout, which has become synonymous with modern designs, and interior designers and decorators can’t seem to get enough of it. 

What is the broken plan, you ask? It is where your living room (which enjoys an open layout with your kitchen and dining area), for example, still provides a sense of openness, but also lets you enjoy more privacy and cosy nooks. This is achieved via the clever placement of furnishings and décor, but also a few architectural tricks. 

Let’s delve deeper into the broken plan…  

1. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Levels

No need to erect walls to distinguish your cooking area from the seating zone, for instance – try the floor! Something as small as a few steps can definitely make a difference to how the various areas in an open-plan layout are perceived. 

One professional in South Africa who can definitely be counted on for broken plan layouts (or any other interior design feature) is Spegash Interiors. Located in Johannesburg, this interior design firm has taken charge of various projects, both in our country and overseas. High-end commercial-, retail- and residential spaces are the main areas of focus. And thanks to the firm’s unique take on customer requirements, as well as cutting-edge designs and décor which include eye-catching colour palettes, the results are nothing short of amazing. 

2. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Glass partitions

Want to separate two areas from each other without blocking the view? A glass partition wall / door could be the ideal solution.

By dividing the room with glass panels that reach right up to the ceiling, there is a distinct separation between the spaces. However, thanks to the visual link, the cooking- and relaxing areas (or whatever zones) still enjoy a semi open-plan layout. 

3. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Half walls

Another great way of achieving two separate spaces without closing them off completely is via half walls. Anything from a living room and kitchen to a bedroom and study can be separated via a half wall. And just like the glass partitions, one still has the visual link that connects the separated zones.

4. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Open shelving

Home office by Ininside Modern

Home office


When it comes to furnishings that also help with décor, open-style shelving is one of the best ideas. With the open designs of the shelves and bookcases, light gets to filter through from one space to the next. 

Where in your house’s open-plan layout would one (or two, or three) open-style bookcase do the trick of separating two areas? 

5. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Colours and patterns

Camps Bay House 1 by GSQUARED architects Minimalist Limestone
GSQUARED architects

Camps Bay House 1

GSQUARED architects

No need to resort to architectural tweaking if you don’t have the energy or budget for it – try your decorations and furnishings.

Something as simple as a floor rug and matching scatter cushions can also help to visually separate a living area from the dining zone, for instance. Or how about trying different wallpaper designs? 

6. Achieve the broken plan layout with: Zoning

Kitchens are one of the main areas where the new broken plan layout gets to shine, with cooking spaces almost everywhere opting for the new zoned approach. 

But why the kitchen specifically? Because in your kitchen you already have separate areas designated for cooking, dining, food prepping, socialising, washing and cleaning, etc. Thus, with a tiny tweak here and there (i.e. changing the colour scheme, opting for a different floor surface from the cooking- to the dining space), your kitchen’s new broken plan layout can not only be achieved successfully, but also feel like a much more practical multi-purpose hub. 

Ever wondered about Modern versus contemporary design: Which is which?  

How do you feel about the new broken plan layout? Where in your home would you like to give it a go?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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