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Creating volume with an alternative layout doesn't have to be at the expense of versatility. Here’s how it’s done…


The decision to reorganise living space is often the result of a specific need or desire e.g. wanting a bigger living room, a larger dining table for entertaining, a home office or optimised storage solutions. Generally, interior designers structure space according to notions of perspective, light and circulation. This approach changes and reconfigures existing spaces. Hélène Paoli, an interior designer, shares her expert advice.   

1.  Structure space using transverse partitions

While it is fashionable to have a living room with an open kitchen, Hélène Paoli recommends using glazed partitions that allow light to pass through, mask kitchen odours and hide dirty dishes. "It's true that open-plan living is fashionable but at the same time we want structured spaces, which is one reason why loft living has fallen out of style.” Creating a 'through-vision' is essential. "To achieve this I use openings, fixed partition walls and masonry half-walls, which have the added advantage of being able to hide cables and provide additional storage space."

How to give open spaces more structure

Partition areas without closing them off completely

2.  Experiment with bookcases/screens 

Bookcases are a practical solution as they can be used for storage as well as acting as a natural partition. According to Hélène Paoli, "You can either fill it with books or leave it empty to let light pass through. A bookcase can also be used to mark out an entrance, a work space or to create a notional barrier between a living room and a kitchen area in a very small space" Highly flexible modular and stackable units offer alternative solutions.

3. Use furniture to structure space

You've always been told that the sofa is the key piece in any room as it naturally marks out areas. Hélène Paoli likes to position a piece of furniture - a desk, a console table or bench of the same height - against the sofa. "This solution not only separates spaces but adding another piece of furniture gives you somewhere to put your books, magazines or laptop." However you choose to structure your space, the key message is knowing how to create order and keep lines crisp. "Open spaces require organisation and order - this is absolutely key," explains our interior designer. 

A quick lesson in layout: 3 tips


Magna, low shelving unit on wheels, Habitat.

Agence ARCHIPELLES/Hélène Paoli.© Alexis Paoli

Agence ARCHIPELLES/Hélène Paoli.© Alexis Paoli

Agence ARCHIPELLES/Hélène Paoli.© Alexis Paoli

Balthasar sofa, Habitat.

Her Mediterranean roots, European childhood and Parisian experience have all helped shape Helene Paoli's personality and approach to design. Through her design agency - Archipelles - she is able to design simple and elegant spaces. Her activities include complete renovations as well as designing furniture.

© Alexis Paoli

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