There’s nothing that screams ‘modern family living’ quite as much as an open plan kitchen diner. The perfect open plan kitchen is a light, airy and casual space where cooking and socialising combine. The two become the perfect complement for each other. Yes, all over the country, walls are coming down. The notion of separate and formal cooking and dining areas are becoming a thing of the past for many people. Instead, we are choosing a more blended approach to family life. Of course, it all sounds so simple – simply open everything up. However, it is really important that you choose the correct layout and fit to ensure that your kitchen diner is absolutely suited to your needs and your lifestyle.
So, grab a brew and sit yourself down. Here’s our Designer’s Guide to help you plan your perfect open plan kitchen diner.
Open Plan Kitchen Diner: Choosing your priorities
As with any aspect of home improvement, the devil is in the detail. The key to success relies on careful and thoughtful planning. This is why you need to be clear from the outset about what your priorities are. An open plan kitchen diner can be wonderful for many households. But every family is unique and has a certain way of doing things. If you want to get the most from your kitchen diner, you need to think very carefully about how you can get the most benefit from the space you create. It’s all about thinking about how you use your living space now and how you envisage things being once you have your open plan kitchen diner. For example, if food preparation and cooking are a big part of your day-to-day, why not place it at the very heart of your new kitchen design? This means you will with now be able to socialise more with family and friends.
Creating space in your Open Plan Kitchen Diner
For most people, a major appeal of combining a kitchen diner with a larger living space is the fact that it will allow the family to spend more time together. Rather than being tucked away in separate rooms, the family can be together. You could now be in the kitchen preparing dinner. At the same time, one child could be doing their homework on the dining table. Another child could be watching TV in the lounge area. Gone are the days of families living separate lives. An open plan kitchen diner can be a way of bringing everybody together.
Not only does the design create family space, it also helps to create the illusion of space. This can never be a bad thing. Bringing down the walls means fewer rooms and doors. It means the floor space has a longer run. All in all, it can make the whole space seem brighter and larger. Another advantage of removing walls is that it gives you even more design freedom. This enables you to create a truly bespoke space for the family.
Of course, knocking down walls isn’t always an option. An alternative could be an extension. Naturally, this can be a time-consuming and costly choice. However, it will give you the vital space you need – and add considerable value to your home.
Think about layout of the space
Natural light is always your friend when it comes to home improvements. If it’s possible, adding sliding ore bi-fold doors to give easy access from the kitchen to the garden. This only not only adds natural light. it really opens the space out. It’s probably true to say that the best location for a kitchen diner is at the back of a property, for this reason. Combining the likes of rooflights to natural light will add the finishing touch.
Of course, if your kitchen project is going to involve the removal of walls and considerable structural work, it’s probably going to be too ambitious to be a DIY project. It’s really a job for the professionals: architects and builders.
But whatever the size of the project, a key consideration of how people will move around the space of your new open plan kitchen diner.
Open Plan Kitchen Diner: Islands and Spaces
One of the key things to consider when planning an open plan kitchen diner is to define the various zones of the space clearly. Especially important in large spaces, if particular areas are not clearly defined, the result can be a real muddle. One of the easiest ways to create zones is to add an island. It has the effect of separating the kitchen from the living space. At the same time, an island actually connects the two spaces.
Again, if you are considering having a kitchen island, it is really important to carefully think about how exactly you will use the island day-to-day. Obviously, if you see the island as mainly being a place for food preparation and cooking, that should influence its style and features. For example, you will probably want to include the likes of a sink or even a hob. Likewise, if you see the island as a social space to sit and chat or a place for the kids to do their homework – either a raised countertop and stools or a drop-level surface to double as a desk – could be on the agenda.
Another way to separate the spaces is to add subtle differences to the flooring. For example, hardwearing and easy-to-clean tiles could be used in the kitchen. Laminated woods and carpet could add warmth to the living space. If you would prefer to have the same flooring run right through, you can distinguish the separate zones with accessories such as rugs.
The importance of storage
You need to make sure you have another storage space in an open plan kitchen diner. The best way to do this is to audit the existing space and focus on what storage you currently have and what you would like to keep. Next consider what extra storage you would like in your open plan kitchen diner. However, you should also think further ahead than that. Think about how the space might evolve and how you might use the space in the future. This should ensure that you always have enough storage. You have plenty of plenty of options, from drawers and tall units to a traditional larder. There are so many ways you can create storage solutions to suit all needs.
The problem of mess and smells and noise
Open shelves and cupboards are a great idea to create the illusion of space. This is because it gives a roomier feel. Not only that, of course, it really complements the whole notion of open plan living. There is a downside though. Open shelves and cupboards are only really a wise choice if you are sure you can keep things naturally tidy. You should also be aware that they will require regular cleaning. This makes the need for a good and effective extractor hood all the more important.
Another reason to invest in a good quality extractor fan is the need to prevent the smells of the kitchen from drifting into the living space. But with an extractor comes the potential problem of noise. If you plan to cook, eat, and relax in an open plan space. Here’s a Guide to Buying an Extractor Hood.
Here are some key things for remember. If possible, choose a ducted extractor hood over a recirculating model. This is because air will be removed to the exterior of the home, whereas a recirculating good essentially purifies the air before recirculating it back around the room. It also makes sense to choose a hood with a powerful setting. This will allow odours to be eliminated pretty quickly. It will solve the problem of lingering smells which can be a real issue with open plan kitchens.
You also need to think about the noise created by other appliances. If it’s not possible to hide the likes of the washing machine and tumble dryer in a utility space, the noise they can make needs to be considered. You should also try to choose appliances with a low decibel rating.
Getting the shape and light right
If you are either remodelling your home or adding an extension you have more flexibility regarding the size and shape of your open plan kitchen diner. Typically square and rectangular spaces tend to work best. However, it is still important to think very carefully about how to zone the space. An alternative is to go for L-shaped space. This gives you some natural separation between zones.
Never underestimate the importance of your lighting scheme in an open plan kitchen diner. Because of the multi-functional nature of open plan spaces, lighting a kitchen diner can be a complicated matter. The best way to approach the task is to think in terms of layers. Natural light is obviously important but it also vital to feature ambient lighting. You also need to consider the role that task lighting and accent lighting can play too. Task lighting can make various aspects of food preparation so much easier. Accent lighting is a great way to emphasise and highlight particular parts of the kitchen too.
Keeping the design consistent
With an open plan space, keeping the design style consistent is important. Too many different looks for different zones will just leave things looking muddled and unclear. Similarly, having just one blanket scheme across the whole space won’t work either. The key is cohesion. Accent colours will make particular elements stand out and tie spaces together. It’s not just about colour, however. Symmetry and repetition of design motifs across the space can be particularly effective too.
Top tips for versatile open plan living
As with all aspects of home improvement, there are never any rules as such. It’s your home after all, so really it’s down to you to make the decisions that will help you end up with the perfect open plan kitchen diner for your needs. Having said that, you probably shouldn’t stray too far from the tried and tips and guiding principles that we’ve already covered so far in this blog.
Open plan designs might be the ideal fit for the informal lifestyles that most of us lead these days. It’s certainly the ideal way to create a natural hub for the home. However, it can’t be stressed enough that a certain amount of skill is required to successfully integrate a kitchen space with a living area. This especially true in apartments and smaller properties. Careful zoning, sound and noise control and a complementary approach to décor are all vital. For these reasons, it’s best to follow the advice rather than trying to be too individual and ‘out there’.
Careful consideration of how you want the space to work for you, followed by equally careful planning are required. So, here are some final tips to help you make the most from your open plan kitchen diner.
Separate but seamless: Define your space with flooring
So, how do you keep things separate and seamless? Probably the easiest and most effectivce way of doing so is define the space with your flooring. Two complementary flooring materials and patterns is the optimum. Anything more and things might look a bit too much. If you choose wisely, a patterned vinyl will contrast wonderfully with a neutral wood laminate floor.
The watchwords for every aspect of your open plan kitchen diner design should really be functional and family-friendly. And, more than anything else, simplicity is the key. An open plan kitchen diner may have complex requirements, but it’s when you over-complicate things that it’s likely to end in a disappointing result.
A simple colour palette that isn’t too fussy will be the most effective. Accents and pops of colour can really add to a generally neutral overall look. It’s important not to overpower the space. Similarly, a sense of flow is really important. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that large rooms need less planning than smaller spaces. The workspace in the kitchen itself needs to function well ergonomically. To this end, it’s always a good idea to adhere to the design principles of the classic kitchen triangle when deciding where to locate the hob, fridge and sink.
Open Plan Kitchen Diner: Let’s take it back to the beginning
All of the advice and guidance that we’ve given, the most important thing is to take things back to the very beginning. Careful, thoughtful and thorough planning from the outset. A wish-list is the obvious starting point.
Make a record of the key things you’d definitely like to include in your new open plan space. Also make a note of key concerns or any issues you envisage, such as storage. This means that you won’t lose sight of the things that matter the most. It will help you to keep on track. Listing things in priority order is another good idea. It might not be possible to include absolutely everything on the list. However, it will be a vital piece of work when it comes to deciding on your budget and finalising what your absolute red lines are.
The first consideration of any project is the budget, and how much you are willing to invest. It’s best to have an approximate idea of what your financial resources are, as this will allow you to adjust the budget depending on where you see value in the design. Knowing how much you have to spend will allow you to focus on what’s important and realistic.
Being clear about your budget is absolutely crucial. Firstly, it will help you decide on your priorities and which items from your wish list to include. Of course, it’s also important to know from the earliest outset of planning a rough idea of how much money you have at your disposal. Knowing how much you have to spend will help you to keep things realistic.
If you like any further help and guidance about creating an open plan kitchen diner in your home, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team. We can help your open plan living dream into reality.