28 January 2020
Designing an open plan kitchen requires a considerable amount of careful planning, as the concept brings together various rooms of the home into one central location. Often combined with contemporary kitchen design, the open plan style can lend itself to a number of kitchen design concepts. However, open plan style complements modern living the most as a result of its functional and free flowing style.
An open plan kitchen requires opening out into other areas of the house, forming either a kitchen-diner or kitchen-diner-family room concept. Removing barriers, taking down internal walls and helping ensure that the person doing the cooking isn’t stranded by themselves in a separate kitchen, an open plan kitchen brings everyone together into one space.
Before getting into the intricacies of designing an open plan kitchen, first of all we wanted to take the time to really highlight why an open plan kitchen needs careful planning and why, in some instances, the concept of ‘open-living’ isn’t for everyone.
It’s important to design an open plan kitchen to ensure it works in a functional manner for you and the family. This requires a considerable amount of careful planning.
Once a kitchen is part of an open plan space it will impact every other area it’s integrating with. From this point on, there’s no closing a door on noisy appliances while you settle down to watch TV for the night. The pots and pans that stay in the sink after tea will remain a visible nuisance. And you may at some point be glad of having a separate lounge area that you can close the door on!
Furthermore, an open plan kitchen-diner or kitchen-diner-family room will require design synergy - you need to ensure a chosen style is consistently applied throughout all areas, as it’ll now be working as a single space.
The biggest style indicator in kitchen design is cabinet door choices, which when designing an open plan kitchen is ever more important as they’ll be in plain view at all times.
Getting the overall design right can be tricky. As the concept of open plan living is the combining of several functional rooms into one, design synergy really is key to ensuring a chosen style is consistently applied throughout.
What this means, is that if you have your heart set on a traditional kitchen design but would prefer your living room space to be of a more contemporary style, then an open plan style may not be the best option for you.
That said, there may be potential for you to tone down on the traditional, opting for a more classic look. This is where an experienced designer may come in handy. Doing so may help you meet somewhere in the middle with a best of both worlds approach, so that a consistent open plan kitchen-family room design that flows freely can be achieved.
More often than not, when we talk about designing an open plan kitchen, we’re typically referring to a combined kitchen-diner approach. Although less intrusive, the above principles still apply.
Extremely functional, a great area to host and entertain and perfect for keeping your eyes on little ones doing their homework at the kitchen table while you cook, open plan kitchen-diners are tremendously versatile.
If this open plan concept is one you’re thinking of applying, and keeping the above principles in mind, please refer to our five key points on how to design an open plan kitchen-diner:
1. Make it multi-functional and family friendly
2. Keep it simple and consider a neutral colour palette
3. Incorporate a sociable element for hosting and entertaining
4. Consider your open plan kitchen floor plan and whether you can add an island
5. Explore your options for defining both areas with different flooring or work surfaces
Once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided that an open plan living concept is one you can fully get on board with, the next step is to consider your floor plan and general layout.
With many layouts available to you, our top three open plan kitchen floor plan options include:
> Peninsular Shape
An L-shaped kitchen design is a concept that features two walls that form a 90 degree angle, with cabinets and appliances installed along both walls. Using work surfaces, cabinets and appliances in an L-shaped layout helps to maximise space, making it a great choice for small and open plan spaces and also kitchens where you’re wanting to incorporate an island.
Find out more in our expert guide on design tips for L shaped kitchens.
A U-shaped kitchen design is a concept that utilises three walls to feature cabinets and appliances. Lending itself perfectly to an open plan kitchen floor plan rather than an island, which is only feasible in large spaces, this design will typically feature a dining table and chairs at the top of the U design.
A peninsular-shaped kitchen is a perfect concept when designing an open plan kitchen, especially if space is limited and you don’t have the surface area to incorporate a standalone island. Lending itself to either an L-shaped or U-shaped design, a peninsula kitchen design is when the extra work surface, storage or place to socialise is fit in a breakfast bar style manner, but is connected at one end to a wall.
When it comes to design, you firstly need to decide whether the functionality of the concept will work for you and your family’s needs. Weigh up the pros and cons through careful planning.
The next step is to decide which open plan kitchen floor plan works best for you and your available space. At this point we would always advise you contact a kitchen design specialist, in order to fully explore each approach and ultimately get the right one for you.
Finally, there are a number of key design principles which should be adhered to, to ensure design synergy and a consistent approach that flows throughout the lower levels of your home.