Open plan kitchen design has been one of the biggest home trends in recent decades.
By doing away with the traditional separation between kitchen and dining and/or sitting rooms, you can maximise space and light and achieve a sense of flow that is so important in the home. Bringing the family together in a unified space where we eat, socialise, relax and entertain can have a huge impact on how we live our lives.
However, as anyone who has actually experienced open plan living knows, there are downsides. Privacy is one issue. With everyone congregated in the same space, where do you go for peace and quiet? Open plan layouts can leave you feel exposed and there’s a risk that the house somehow no longer feels cosy.
Removing dividing walls can create problems with placing furniture – storage, in particular, can become a real headache. Open plan means there’s nowhere to hide the dirty dishes or the ironing basket. Acoustics, too, can be a difficult. Suddenly, the cooker hood is competing with the TV, while conversation can only take place if the kettle isn’t on. Open plan kitchens may have many advantages over the poky post-war kitchens of old, but are they the best solution?
Enter the new compromise concept: ‘broken plan’ instead of ‘open plan’ living. It’s a genius combination of all the positive aspects of open plan living, while doing away with the negatives. With the clever introduction of subtle room dividers, ‘broken plan’ layouts help to maintain the feel of distinct living spaces while retaining that all-important sense of flow.
You’ll still have sociable, interconnected living spaces that are great for family living, socialising and entertaining. Light and space are still paramount and the overall layout will have a contemporary feel. However, the big advantage is that individual ‘rooms’ will get their identity back. No longer will your lounge have to share the same space as the kitchen, and a separate study may well offer a much more focused working environment than a desk in the corner of the kitchen. And you’ll get your kitchen back too – great for cooks who prefer not to be on show all the time.
A new kitchen design is always an exciting time for your home. If you’re not sure how to approach the space so that it works for you and your family, it’s always worth consulting an expert kitchen design company such as The Brighton Kitchen Company for valuable professional advice and guidance to get the right solution for your family home.
If you’re not sure how to reinstate structure and order into an open plan layout without going back to the ‘bad old days’ of small separate rooms, here are a few clever ideas.
Define separate zones
Broken plan design is all about providing subtle spatial definition to help re-establish the identity and integrity of your individual living, working, relaxing and kitchen/utility areas. There are many small, clever tricks to achieve this, aimed at creating a physical as well as mental divide between the different spaces that makes them feel self-contained, but not cut off from each other.
Zoning can take many forms – including quick solutions such as pretty curtain screens, decorative room dividers, smart shelving or strategically placed shelving units or other pieces of furniture.
Insert a half wall
Why put a whole wall back when half a wall will do? Rather than cutting your kitchen and dining spaces off from each other completely, inserting a half wall will be sufficient to define the area. In this way, you can screen your kitchen clutter from view as you prepare dinner, while still feeling connected to your guests on the other side of the half wall.
Add glass partitions
Now you see it, now you don’t. Being transparent, glass is an excellent space divider without interrupting the flow of light. Install a half window, a set of glass doors or a full glass partition into your open plan layout to create completely distinct spaces that are still visually connected. Rather than having a study corner in the kitchen, you’ll have a quiet, private space in which to work without being cut off from the rest of the house.
Go up a level
Break up a unified space by inserting steps or split-level room arrangements. It may be a small physical change but, psychologically speaking, a change in floor level signals a distance between separate zones designed for different functions.
If you live in a period property, converted barn or any building with high ceilings, think about adding a mezzanine level above ground level to give you an additional living space. Whether you use the extra ‘room’ as a cosy TV lounge, a reading den or formal library, make sure you maximise the light and connection to the rest of the interior, perhaps with an open tread staircase, a pretty balcony or glass balustrade.