How to make open plan living work







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Creating an open plan living area has been so popular over the last decade. 

Whether you create an open plan living space by knocking down an internal wall or by carrying out a large rear extension, we have some great open plan living advice to make it work.

If you are thinking about renovating your home in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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What makes open plan living so good?

1. A sociable space is created

One of the very best benefits of open plan living is that your family can all be together. Children can do their homework, watch TV or play a game while you prepare dinner or relax. Kids no longer need to spend time in their bedroom playing, they can be in the open plan space where you can socialise too. It's also great when you have friends over as you can entertain guests whilst prepping the food.

2. A small home can feel incredibly spacious

Small homes can benefit from open plan living. Instead of having a few small rooms, you create one large space which you use all of. Some homes are open plan from the front door, maximising every inch of the living space.

3. You use every corner of your home to its potential

Rooms are often wasted in homes especially the lounge or dining room which are used only a handful of times throughout the year. By incorporating these rooms into an open plan living space, you will have a much more spacious and practical home. Just think carefully before you do remove a room though!

4. The light comes flooding in

If your home was previously a lot of little rooms and you have created one large open plan living space, you will know one of the huge benefits is having a lovely bright space. Many families also incorporate sky lights, sky lanterns, bi-fold doors and large windows into the open plan living space, adding even more light. This will make your home feel much larger than the original space.

5. It looks great!

A large open plan living space looks visually stunning. We love seeing large open plan spaces that are bright, spacious and modern - they feel like a luxurious and inviting space.

Before you go ahead and create an open plan living area, there are some things you should consider.

It might be useful to keep at least one room separate. 

6. Cooking smells can linger

If you love to cook then you will find that the lounge may have the aroma of your dinner long into the evening. Make sure you invest in a good extractor fan to remove the smell as quickly as possible!

7. Prep if you are having friends for a meal

When you have a separate kitchen and are preparing a meal, your guests can't see things going wrong! In an open plan kitchen, guests will naturally want to chat to you whilst you are preparing the food, so make sure you do as much of the cooking beforehand to avoid too much work.

8. Noise can be an issue

If someone is trying to watch the TV whilst the other is chatting on the phone, or the kids are going crazy when you just want to relax, open plan living can be a challenge. This also includes cooking noises and the noise of the dishwasher when you are relaxing. Think about how you will cope with these noises...maybe it's worth keeping a small snug for relaxing in the evening!

9. You might like having separate rooms

With a growing number of people working from home, it is often very practical to have a separate study. So if you want to opt for open plan living, make sure you allow for this. Or if you have teenagers in your house, you might want to have somewhere for them to study if they don't have the space in their room. Before you knock down every wall do think about keeping one small room free.

10. everywhere!

If you have a young family and enjoy open plan living, you will find that the toys do gradually spread through the whole space throughout the day. So even if you have gorgeous storage that makes the room look smart in the evening, be aware that you will have to tidy everything back at the end of the day, rather than just shutting a playroom door.

11. Guests never move from the kitchen

If you are having a small group of friends over for coffee or having some drinks, you will find everyone is huddled around the kitchen island unit or breakfast bar, concentrated over a really small space. As much as you try to get everyone to move to the comfy sofa, they will naturally gravitate in the kitchen area. This can be frustrating if you need space to prepare drinks and food!

So are there compromises?

There is a middle ground where you can have some of the benefits of open plan living without all of the issues. Consider breaking your open plan space into zones which can be done in a variety of clever ways: 

  • Create a room divider which can be as simple as a breakfast bar or a partition wall with pocket sliding doors
  • Create different zones by mixing the flooring
  • Change the lighting depending on the area. You can make the lounge area cosy in the evening if you choose clever lighting.
  • Split the level of the open plan space, such as raising the kitchen whilst still keeping it part of the open plan space
  • Use furniture carefully. Section off the lounge area with an L-shaped sofa or some clever storage to partition the lounge off.

If you need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

Find an architect or designer

Published: November 30, 2020

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