Project by John Maniscalco Architecture

When your living space has a good flow, you feel it. It's easier to move around and through, and there's a restful quality that puts you and your guests instantly at ease. Could your favorite room or entire home benefit from more flow? Here are some tips to try.

What is Flow?

Think of flow as a lack of interruption or obstacles. This means ease of movement as you walk through a space. It also means visual consistency throughout a space and a visual connection between spaces or rooms. Flow is a sense of spaciousness and effortless connection — a light, airy, expansive feel.

Flow can happen throughout the whole home, in one room or space, and in between indoor living areas and outdoor spaces.

Abodwell Interior Design | Dennis Owen Photography

Start with Whole-House Flow

A good place to start is thinking about how different rooms in your home connect.

There are a number of ways to do this visually. Use the same flooring throughout a small home or small space. Use different flooring finishes with a common base color or tone throughout a larger home. Avoid visually "loud" threshold changes from space to space, as these will interrupt the flow.

Limit the number of different wall colors from room to room. Keep colors the same or variations within a limited palette. This helps give the sense of a natural flow between spaces. Some designers recommend using neutral tones throughout to relax the eye, saving bolder colors for accent pieces and artwork within each room or space.

Another way to create a unifying look and a sense of flow is to keep window and door trim and moldings the same color and finish throughout the home. Examples: all white paint, all black paint, or all stained natural wood. (Most LaCantina door systems are available with a choice of interior wood species, giving homeowners options for creating a coordinating look with trim/molding or flooring colors and finishes.)

If you have an eclectic personal decorating style — for example, if you like to mix historic/vintage pieces and contemporary designs — display that mix thoughtfully in every room rather than limiting one type of style to one space. This maintains a consistent tone throughout the home and is great for creating a sense of style flow.

Doors and Flow

By their nature, doors both invite and stop flow. The good news is, there are so many kinds of doors available that you will find ones that work with your space and create the sense of flow you want.

For example, consider using an exterior full lite glass swing door as a kitchen-area daily door or at the end of a hallway leading outside. In addition to boosting flow by creating easy access to the outdoors, a glass panel door allows the visual line to continue to the outside of the home, letting in warm sunlight and possibly offering a peek at a lovely natural area in the backyard.

For spaces that sometimes require privacy but also benefit from clear passageways, a sliding pocket door can be a stylish option for switching between needs: inviting flow when open and maintaining boundaries when closed.

Improving Flow Within Each Room

The main goal here is spaciousness. You want to be able to move without interruption. So it's helpful to create zones — almost like mini rooms within your larger space. This can be chairs around a dining table (one zone), a sofa and two single chairs around a coffee table and all contained on an accent rug (one zone), or a reading nook with a chair, ottoman, side table, and floor lamp (one zone). For maximum flow, you'll want to leave plenty of space between these zones and ample space around them — that is, not pushing too many zones against a wall.

In addition to furniture placement, keeping surfaces and floors uncluttered helps the room feel more relaxed, which definitely boosts the sense of flow.

If your interior space has a direct connection to the outdoors via a large opening door system, you can modify your zones to reflect this, creating clear areas for movement between indoors and outdoors. Arrange seating zones to enjoy the natural light coming through the glass panels when closed as well as the fresh breezes drifting in when the system is open.

Keep flow in mind when choosing a door system for your home. Sliding and multi slide glass doors will open to stack against a single, fixed glass panel unless the system is built to pocket into the wall. (When it pockets, the entire door system seems to disappear, leaving nothing but fresh air and open space between you and your natural surroundings.)

Folding glass doors will "accordion" together to one side. This feature offers more clearance between your indoor and outdoor spaces, depending on the layout of your home.

For a real sense of openness and flow, don't forget zero post corners. Zero post corner systems open up two adjacent walls at once, turning an indoor room into a covered outdoor space in seconds.

Want to see more examples of homes with flow? Dive into our gallery of finished projects here.