Interior Design

Joanna Gaines reveals her secret to zoning an open-plan space

The designer has the key to creating defined areas with furniture – this is what you need to know

Joanna Gaines headshot
(Image credit: Courtesy of Magnolia)

Turning an open-plan into broken-plan doesn't need to be hard, especially when armed with Joanna Gaines' zoning tip. 

The renowned designer and Fixer Upper star has shared her broken plan living room ideas to create distinct areas in open-plan living rooms – and the key involves rearranging furniture you may already own.

Whether you are looking for experimental ways to make your living room look bigger or you want to enjoy the feeling of a new room in an old space – Joanna's secret will transform your room entirely. 

Here, she shares her interior design tip – so you can flirt with a broken trend – without permanently interrupting your open-plan living space. 

Joanna Gaines' zoning tip

Parisian living room

(Image credit: Designed by Le Berre Vevaud in Neuilly Saint James, photo by Didier Delmas)

According to Joanna Gaines, you can create separate areas with statement design elements. 'The easiest way to do that is with light fixtures and area rugs,' she says. Therefore, 'when you walk into [a] space, you have two defined areas.'

Other renowned designers also share the HGTV star's secret, as Martin Waller, the founder of Andrew Martin, explains:

'Hang pendant lighting over dining areas and use task lamps in corners of the room to create cozy areas for reading,' he says. The designer similarly recommends using 'statement lights' to 'create different zones, that each have a purpose.

'Open furniture, such as cabinets, bookcases, or shelving can be used to create different zones, without making the space feel closed in,' Martin adds.

Take Joanna's tip to the floor 

Parisian living room with broken-plan technique

(Image credit: Designed by Le Berre Vevaud in Plaine Monceau, photo by Stephan Julliard)

Le Berre Vevaud founders Raphaël Le Berre and Thomas Vevaud similarly use Joanna's method – while also suggesting that an effective way of breaking up an open plan is by dividing the floor into distinct areas.

'In typical French apartments, the living rooms are usually very big, so a way of creating more intimacy is to distinguish separate areas through different color schemes or a variety of textures and materials,' the Parisian designers explain. 

'Large rugs are useful in defining living or dining areas as they can set the tones and color palettes for those spaces. Echoing those tones with accents of color in furniture or ornamental pieces helps create a sense of harmony throughout the whole design.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.