Choosing curtains for an open floor plan

Tania Naudé
Written by Tania Naudé
Russells Consultant
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Open floor plans (ie. Kitchen, dining and living all in one room) are the norm now in kiwi homes, especially in new builds and large-scale renovations. Because these spaces are multi-use and décor ranges from hard surfaces to soft fabrics, choosing curtains can be a tricky design challenge. They can be all the same or you can have variety, as long as the overall scheme of the room is complementary, and your choice is practical for that particular part of the room. Let’s run through what you need to consider.

Lifestyle needs

Practicality will have to be a part of the decision so think about the use of the different parts of your open plan room. It could be that a blind is the better option for the kitchen area because of the heat and moisture produced when cooking. Read our blog on finding the best blinds for the kitchen.


If the shape of the room is irregular, you’re better placed to have different curtains in different areas because the room is already visually broken up. You can still do this if the room is one big rectangle but it pays to be quite strict in ensuring the curtains work well with nearby furnishings so you achieve a look of coordinated ‘zones’. You can also use sheer curtains of shutters as room dividers; this works really well in studio apartments where the bedroom is part of the living area.

Cannes Ash by Nettex

Using shutters as room dividers

Shutters can be used to easily turn a large space into two or more smaller ones or create distinct zones within an open plan layout. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • A reading nook or homework zone
  • Pop up home office
  • Home bar
  • Dressing room
  • Workout zone/home gym area
  • Screen off the arts and crafts or kids play area
  • A sanctuary for home massage
  • Separate kitchen/dining from living area in an open plan layout
  • Create individual spaces for kids who share a bedroom
Embrace light

Make your open plan area feel even more airy and spacious by extending your sightline to the outdoors. Let in heaps of gorgeous natural light by hanging your curtains wide of the windows so when they’re open no glass is obstructed and you can see the entire view. To retain privacy pair curtains with sheers on a double track or with a sunscreen roller blind underneath.

Think about comfort

Big open floor plans are harder to heat than smaller, more contained rooms so whatever curtains you choose, consider how much work they need to do in terms of insulating the room. If you have a lot of glass, even if it’s double-glazed, that’s a large surface area to lose heat through so properly lined floor length curtains are a must. Effective insulation can be achieved through layering and air blocking (eg. a curtain over a roller blind). Good lining also plays a part in summer, helping to stop the rays of the sun from fading your interiors.

Find harmony

If you want your curtains to be the same throughout the whole room, you can, as long as the décor matches throughout also. If the style of furnishings evolves in the different parts of the room then so too can your curtains. What you’ll want to do is make sure they complement each other in one way or another. Here are some suggestions:

  • Different shades of the same colour
  • Some patterned fabric and some block colour curtains in an accent colour from that pattern
  • Two different patterns in identical palettes
  • The same pattern in a different but complementary colour
  • Two different colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel

Scion Levande Cedar Slate Apple Ivy 1764px

Make a statement

An open floor plan can be practical for living but visually over or underwhelming. Draw attention to a certain part of the room with a statement curtain, supported by more toned down fabrics for the rest of the windows. Think bright colours, bold patterns or even a dazzling metallic. It’ll help break up the space and establish visual flow.

Learn what to consider in picking the right curtains for your home

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