Thursday, 5 October 2017

Is broken plan living the right choice for you?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we're starting to think about the process of an extension on our house which will be a new kitchen and family room. But with theses first originating thoughts comes a lot of pressure. This extension will be a big deal to our family and how we live. So needless to say we are weighing up all the options.
Our busy lives demand multifunctional rooms that can cope with everything we throw at them. As more and more of us open up our downstairs from a collection of small cramped rooms into one huge space though, the problems, as well as the benefits, of this kind of living can become obvious. One room zoned into specific areas for cooking, dining and relaxing appears to be a dream but is the reality somewhat different?
I chatted this week with specialist a Bespoke fitted kitchen company, Harvey Jones , to weigh up the advantages of open plan living.
Here's what they said and what i found out

All images via Pintrest here

Why open plan?

Breaking down those walls will add light and space to your home, especially when you knock through from your kitchen to the dining room. It’s the perfect choice for sociable families as it prevents the cook from feeling isolated for a start. No more retiring to the kitchen for half an hour on your own to prepare meals.
An island or peninsula within your kitchen makes cooking a much more social experience, placing you in the centre of the kitchen. Often given as a reason for going open plan is the need to keep an eye on children. From toddlers playing to teens doing their homework, for busy families a space that performs several functions allows the family to spend time together even when they’re performing many different tasks.  
A kitchen-diner is often a better use of space, especially in a time when our homes are getting smaller. A well-designed kitchen-diner allows you to prepare, cook and eat in the one room comfortably. However, you do have to ensure all zones work well together and recognize that this kind of layout will reduce privacy, particularly if you’re opening up the whole of your downstairs.
Problems you may encounter include having nowhere quiet to retire while the kids play or watch TV. There are also the issues of noise from appliances that might disturb you, or that clearly evident pile of washing-up nagging at you as you sit down for an evening of TV or a quiet read with your favourite book or magazine. Fewer walls also mean less space to put furniture, which can lead to a room that’s crammed around the walls or jumbled in the centre. 

Why broken plan?

If you’re scared by the pitfalls of open-plan living, broken-plan living could be for you. The idea is to retain all the things you love about open-plan  – particularly the light and openness – while at the same time zoning the space to allow for more privacy should you need it. To do this, you’ll need structural elements such as half-walls, dividing shelves, changing levels, walls of glass and even mezzanines to delineate and formalize areas for different uses. 

Making it workable in your home

Any space can be made broken plan by introducing ‘walls’, such as open boxed shelving that divides a space. Of course, you don’t want to regress back to small poky rooms so don’t cram the shelves full of books – instead, artfully arrange a few favourite pieces to signal the change between one room and another, and leave some of the shelves open to allow light to freely cascade from one zone to another.
Crittall-style windows are a popular choice at the moment. They are metal-framed windows and sometimes doors that are traditionally used in industrial spaces or as exterior walls onto gardens – they have celebrity fans such as TV presenter and architect George Clarke, who celebrates their ability to cleverly divide an internal space without shutting off one room totally from another. 
Unlike when joining two rooms, different floor and ceiling heights are perfect for broken-plan living, as they help to distinguish spaces without dividing walls. A few steps from the kitchen to the dining area, for instance, can provide a clear physical divide as well as a mental one, allowing you to leave the kitchen behind to concentrate on enjoying your meal without fear of what the sink might hold.
For a dramatic and envy-inducing approach to broken-plan living, consider installing a large fireplace in the centre of a large room. Viewable from either side, it’s another inventive way to create that cosy, private atmosphere in an essentially open room. 

 Whether you choose open-plan or broken-plan for your kitchen, it’s wise to enlist the help of a specialist kitchen designer to work alongside an architect or builder.

Have you ever taken on an extension/kitchen refurb? 
Do you have any recommendations?

*collaborative post, thanks for supporting me and the brands that are happy to work with me :)

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