One of the most popular styles for modern day interiors is an open plan living area with a combined kitchen, dining room and living space. Complementing today’s informal lifestyles, the open plan living arrangement provides a natural hub for the areas in which we spend the most time. After all, the kitchen is more commonly known as the heart of the home, so why not make it a family affair?
When it comes to open plan living, designing a space isn’t as easy as you might think. There are lots of things to consider to provide greater sociability during cooking and prepping in an open plan kitchen, and you need to skillfully combine these with areas to relax too. Clever zoning, sound control and a cohesive decorating approach are all key features of a good design. Stuck for where to start with your open plan kitchen? Here’s our clever decorating ideas and styling tips for how to create an open plan living area you’ll love.
Image: Studio Alpa Open Plan Kitchen Design
Consider how you use your kitchen
One of the first things you need to think about before even talking to a builder or cracking open Pinterest is how you use your space as a household. Do you cook solo, or does everyone chip in? Does anyone use the space for working or homework? The open plan design incorporates dining, living and entertaining zones and the way you and your family use the kitchen is important to establish flow. This is not a one size fits all approach. From a home office hidden within a kitchen cupboard to a kitchen island that doubles up as extra storage, this is your time to establish your dream features that will last you forever. Write them all down and consult with an interior designer to establish what’s possible.
Image credit: Poggenpohl
Think about layout
Once you’ve thought about the things you have to have in your open plan kitchen, you need to work out a practical design. Consider how your room will flow. Curved countertops are great at subtly directing traffic as are kitchen islands.
Large rooms demand just as much care in the planning as smaller open plan living areas and there are a number of functional aspects that you shouldn’t ignore. The “golden triangle” is the space between the sink, fridge and oven. These should be situated in a triangle to cut down on footwork, using an island to help shorten these distances in larger spaces.
Image credit: Beckermann
Zone your areas
While you want your kitchen to be bright and airy with an open plan design, you still want it to feel warm and cosy. Zoning your areas to make it clear what each individual area is for will help you to steer clear from a stark and cold look. Add soft furnishings to areas for lounging, or change the flooring up for more practical areas. Colour can be a great way to zone areas but be careful not to overdo a space by introducing too many contrasting hues.
Image credit: Neolith
Use glass screens or sliding doors to separate the cooking area from the living space if you still want to retain some privacy or simply pop in a folding screen that can be pulled out at any time. Think about where family or guests will sit while you cook and also where you would like to eat. Breakfast bars need to be situated away from the preparation area so nobody gets in the way but can still socialise with the chef.
Image: Studio Alpa Open plan Kitchen Design
But keep it cohesive
With no walls to obstruct light or views, open plan spaces tend to have a great sense of cohesiveness but you need to be careful not to break this up with zoning. Keep your colour palette similar throughout the space and think about how you can use natural light and artificial lighting to bring the space together as one. The simplest of touches can help to bring a look together; brass cabinet handles matching brass light fixtures or brass cutlery on the dining table will make that all important sense of flow come to life.
Image credit: Roundhouse Design
Add personality with colour
We think that colour is a way to define who you are as a household and there’s no set rules as to what you should and shouldn’t use. Think about the colours that make you feel happy and sociable and look at inspiration for how you can use them. Colour needn’t just be added to the walls of an open plan kitchen and can instead be applied via cabinetry, work surfaces, backsplashes or flooring. Accent colours can be used to define individual zones and pull the scheme together.
Image credit: Caesarstone
Blow the budget on lighting
Good use of lighting can change the entire ambience of a room so it’s absolutely vital that you carefully consider this when planning your open plan living space. A good space requires natural light, ambient lighting, task lighting and decorative lighting. We can’t stress this enough! Skylights running right along the highest point of a roof will flood an open plan kitchen with natural light while pendants above a kitchen island will provide both functional and decorative appeal. Finish the look with some under island lighting and statement wall lamps.
Image credit: Porcelanosa
Make room for storage
Make use of every inch of space in your open plan kitchen by adding clever storage options at every opportunity. Conceal appliances behind matching cabinet doors for a streamlined effect and choose cabinets without handles if you really want a seamless look. What you lose in walls, you make up for in floor space, so don’t waste a single square foot and squeeze in areas to hide away clutter at every opportunity. Coffee making areas can be hidden by closed doors, charging points hidden in drawers and thin cupboards turned into pull out spice racks. Everything is possible!
Image credit: Halcyon Interiors
Go all out on entertaining aspects
If you love to entertain, an open plan kitchen and living space is the perfect solution, allowing you to be part of the action with your guests, not missing a single bit of the party! Don’t shy away from creating a space that dazzles and amps up those entertaining features. We’re talking bar areas, hot water taps, ice makers and anything else you can possibly think of for entertaining. Smart technology within kitchens is on the rise and there’s likely a way to incorporate lots of the things you’d love to have in your dream open plan space.
Image credit: Corian
Studio Alpa is a boutique interior design studio based in Rickmansworth, UK. For further information on our design services for both residential and commercial clients, please get in touch.