How to Perfect Open-Plan Living with Monica Tanem

Unless you’re new here, you’ll probably have picked up that we’re more than a little bit passionate about the bright and airy vibe that comes with Scandinavian style. And what better way to make your home bright and airy, than with an open-plan layout?

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February
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Put simply, open-plan living is the removal of barriers such as walls and doors within your home, resulting in one big living room/dining room/kitchen. Not only does an open-plan home feel more spacious, it also promotes a more social atmosphere. While one person is cooking up a storm in the kitchen, another can be relaxing on the sofa and yet you’ll still be together –  it’s the perfect layout for a family home.

One beautiful example of open-living done right is the home of Monica Tanem in Oslo, Norway. Despite not having a background in the interior industry, Monica’s keen interest in interior design and her creative nature took over when she bought her apartment 2 years ago with her high school sweetheart and their kids. Where her husband saw a tired apartment with limitations, she was able to see opportunities and decided to design their new home herself.

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When approaching the mammoth task of renovating the apartment that hadn’t been touched since 1980 when it was built, Monica was seeking inspiration everywhere. She spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking for design ideas alongside Instagram, magazines, and her travels. She eventually decided that she wanted her home to reflect her love of symmetry, clean lines, open space and seamlessness – an open-plan home was the perfect choice.

The refurbishment saw the removal of many walls in order to open up the space. “There were literally walls everywhere, and the floors were different in every room.” says Monica. What was once four small rooms became one large bathroom with double sinks, a walk-in shower, a bathtub, washing machine and dryer all in the same room.

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Monica wanted her bathroom to have that home spa feeling, and created a gorgeous relaxing space to unwind in. “I love spending time in the bathroom, and solve a lot of world problems from the tub” she says. Like the rest of her home, the space has a distinctly Nordic and minimalistic style.

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There are many reasons that Monica decided open-plan living was right for her home. Besides simply liking the aesthetics of an open-plan home, the social benefits to her family made the choice for her. With her husband doing most of the cooking when expecting guests, he had always wanted an open-plan kitchen that would enable him to cook while their guests are in the same room. As a result, they opted for a large kitchen island with bar stools that works as a social centre

The layout of the home is also incredibly practical for their small children; while the adults cook dinner, the kids can safely play in the living room. “It’s also an extra excuse to tidy up after dinner!” says Monica.

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There are five main pieces of advice that Monica has for anyone looking to adopt an open-plan approach in their home:

  1. Know what you want. Spend time reading magazines and so on and gather inspiration before you take down any walls or buy furniture. If you take decisions without a plan, you mind regret your choices later.
  2. The practical needs to be more important than the aesthetics.  Create a space that suits your lifestyle and needs. If you have small children, choose materials that are durable, like laminate.
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3. Consulate an interior designer to get the result you want – it’s probably an investment you won’t regret. One of the most important advice I can give is to listen to professionals. Always.

4. Think about storage – There is no such thing as too much storage. And in an open-plan solution, it’s even more important to have enough storage, because too much stuff might look chaotic and untidy.

5. Spend time and money on lighting. Open-plan interior needs a lot of light, and lighting in right places.

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If you’re considering an open-plan home and looking for inspiration – or maybe you just want to drool over the stunning bathroom some more like us – take a look at Monica’s Instagram @frutanem.

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