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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