6 great ways to make open plan living work

We are big fans of open plan living and love how it brings the whole family together by creating a sociable space. Open plan living is also great for maximising the space in your home and making it feel so much bigger.

There are however some pitfalls which include toys sprawling on the kitchen floor, the smell of cooking lingering long after dinner and the space always being noisy with so much activity taking place (particularly if you have a young family!). Here are our tips to making open plan living work for you.

1. Create separate flooring levels 

By creating a mezzanine or a raised level, you can separate off the lounge or dining area whilst still being sociable and enjoying the same space but keeping the areas clearly defined. The ideal time to incorporate a raised level is whilst you are extending, so plan this well in advance before you start any work.

Image source: IQ Glass. This extension features a split level separating the dining area from the kitchen.

2. Consider how to position your furniture

By positioning your furniture carefully you can create zones which stop the room feeling like one large space. Have a clear dining area, lounge and kitchen and if your children also like to use this space to play, have a designated play area which is segregated by toy storage or a sofa.

You can also create zones by using room dividers which might include the positioning of the breakfast bar, a partial stud wall which could incorporate a wood burning stove, or a pocket wall with sliding doors, which you can open and close as you wish.

3. Mix the flooring

Zoning open plan spaces using flooring is a great way to define and add a sense of purpose to open plan living spaces. Flooring can be split into zones, defined using a number of complementary patterns and colours. This can be done with the same type of surface such as a vinyl flooring, or mixing the flooring such as wood in the kitchen area and carpet in the lounge area.

4. Contain cooking smells

Make sure the oven and hob are near a window and invest in a good quality extraction fan to stop the smell of food spreading around the room. Try and position your oven and hob far away for the lounge area to avoid the smell lingering when you are relaxing in the evening.

5. Plan the lighting

A well planned out lighting scheme will define the separate living areas and also change the mood and focus throughout the day. Spotlights in the kitchen area make the space feel bright, but also consider having cabinet lights which you can have on in the evening to light to create a softer look.

Pendants are ideal to make the dining area feel more formal and create a separate zone. In the living space, have plenty of lamps which will create a relaxing atmosphere in the evening.

Make sure you have spotlights on 2-3 circuits so that you don't need to light up the whole living space at once.

Image Source: in-toto Wokingham. The island unit and lighting define this kitchen area.

6. Sound proof as best you can

Soft furnishing such as rugs, curtains, throws and cushions will absorb a lot of the noise, so make sure you layer plenty of texture around your open plan space.

Carefully consider your choice of flooring too - hard floors such as tiles will not help to control the noise, so consider something softer such as a luxury vinyl, rubber or even fit carpet in the lounge area to absorb more noise.

Lastly, consider what you have on the walls and ceilings. You can clad some in wood which adds texture and once again will absorb more noise whilst also looking good!

For more lovely ideas for an open plan kitchen, check out our article on Inspiring kitchens with islands.

Published: June 6, 2018

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