Top 10 Tips For Designing A Stunning Contemporary Open-Plan Kitchen | More Kitchens

Published: 28 January 2020 · Last Updated: 21 August 2023

The contemporary open-plan kitchen - the merge of modern elegance with practicality.

The open-plan kitchen has been a popular option among UK home renovators for a number of years. These versatile layouts not only cater to our modern lifestyles but also provide the perfect canvas for showcasing innovative design concepts.

Given that you have clicked through to this blog, perhaps you are thinking about redesigning your kitchen space and are considering open-plan as a viable option.

If so, you’re in the right place.

In this latest blog, we will take a look at the elements that need to be considered when designing an open-plan kitchen design while we have asked our team of Senior Designers to provide us with their top 10 tips on how to create the perfect contemporary open-plan space.

So, let’s get right to it…

To begin with, what is a contemporary open-plan kitchen

Put simply, an open-plan layout kitchen is a modern and versatile design concept that seamlessly blends the kitchen with adjoining living spaces.

This layout choice is particularly popular with homeowners now as it eliminates physical barriers like walls and doors to create a harmonious and interconnected area where cooking, dining, and socialising converge.

Bringing down those boundaries between the kitchen and living spaces blur the two together, which is ideal for homes with limited square footage, and gives the entire space much more room to breathe while encouraging a free-flowing atmosphere.

What are the benefits of having an open-plan kitchen layout

We mentioned one of the benefits in the section above: space utilisation.

Bringing those spaces together means that no inch is lost within the home. Open-plan layouts embrace connectivity and togetherness. However, there are several other benefits that come with investing in these layouts.

  1. Better social interaction- it’s true, an open-plan layout kitchen fosters better social interaction among family members and guests. By removing physical barriers, such as walls and partitions, everyone can freely engage in conversations and activities across the kitchen, dining, and living areas.
  2. Improved sightlines and safety - if you have a young family, this will catch your attention. Open-plan layout removes the fear of being in one place and wondering what your child is doing on the other side of the wall. The absence of walls allows for unobstructed sightlines, ensuring a safer environment for families with young ones.
  3. Ample natural light - An open-plan layout maximises the flow of natural light throughout the entire living space. Unhindered by walls, sunlight can freely enter the kitchen and adjacent areas, creating a bright and airy atmosphere.
  4. A modern feel - as well as the space element, open plan layouts are popular for their contemporary aesthetic. Its clean lines, seamless transitions, and bright atmosphere contribute to a modern and stylish living space that suits various interior design themes.

While these are just four main benefits, hopefully, this has shown you that the open plan layout design concept not only transforms your kitchen into a hub of activity but also elevates your entire living space, making it a welcoming and inviting area for family and friends to come together.

Have you considered the acoustics?

You probably didn’t expect to be reading about acoustics in this blog, did you?

While you may associate acoustics with theatre and music halls - places of performance - it’s actually a crucial factor to consider as part of an open-plan kitchen layout as well - one that is often overlooked.

Again, there are a few reasons why. With an open plan layout and no walls or doors to soak up sound, it can lead to increased noise levels. Cooking, conversations, and other activities can generate sound that travels freely throughout the area. Without proper consideration of acoustics, this noise can become disruptive, affecting the comfort and tranquility of your home.

So, what’s the solution to improving the acoustics within an open-plan environment? The answer is all in the materials.

Consider how you integrate soft, sound-absorbing materials, like curtains, rugs, upholstered furniture, or even acoustic panels to help dampen sound and retain harmony within the space. Additionally, using cabinetry and kitchen islands strategically can create natural barriers that prevent sound from traveling excessively.

A final message before we get into the top tips: why open-plan kitchens require careful planning

Before getting into the intricacies of designing an open-plan kitchen, it’s important to take the time to really highlight why they need 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 the 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.

Given that the last point is more of a design tip, we have ourselves a perfect segway into our selection of top design tips for open-plan kitchens…

Our Senior Designers’ top tips for creating the perfect open-plan kitchen

As always, we have tasked our team of Senior Designers to give us their best design and style tips to help you create a contemporary open-plan kitchen layout that will leave your guests in awe but will also leave you with a flexible and functional space to bring ease to your day-to-day life.

So, let’s get into it…

1. It starts with the multi-functional kitchen island

A versatile feature that elevates both the aesthetics and functionality of your space, a kitchen island can serve as a natural focal point for all your cooking, dining, and socialising - seamlessly connecting all aspects of daily life in one cohesive space.

Especially for spaces with limited square footage, these central hubs also become flexible workstations, offering ample room for food preparation and cooking, while also functioning as a casual dining area for quick meals or entertaining guests. Modern island designs also incorporate built-in sinks, wine coolers, and a breakfast bar.

Lastly, modern islands come with a wealth of drawers, shelves, and cabinets, as well as electrical outlets to deliver a streamlined appearance that caters to your lifestyle.

Consider the island your all-in-one solution - a great starting point for any contemporary open-plan layout.

2. Just because it’s open-plan doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your dividers

Earlier in this article, we spoke about open-plan designs improving social interaction. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t want a bit of privacy from time to time.

This is where space dividers come in. Not only do they act as a design statement, adding character and defining distinct areas within the open-plan space, but by incorporating elements such as decorative screens, sliding doors, or bookshelves, you create visual interest while maintaining the open and airy atmosphere that an open-plan kitchen offers.

They allow for better organisation, designating areas for dining, relaxation, or work within the same expansive layout. For example, a strategically placed sliding door can separate the kitchen during busy cooking times, reducing noise and cooking odors while still maintaining connectivity with the rest of the living space.

3. Bring the outdoors in with a vertical herb garden

A simple idea but one that we’d consider to be a stroke of brilliance.

A vertical herb garden serves as a perfect addition to an open-plan layout by not only enhancing the aesthetics but also elevating the culinary experience. The vertical design takes advantage of unused wall space, infuses the kitchen with the beauty and smell of nature, and allows you to grow herbs - like basil and parsley - and plants at convenience.

Undoubtedly, it serves as a talking point for guests - a captivating and lush display that creates a calm and inviting atmosphere that helps nurture your love for cooking.

4. Make a statement with a backsplash or art decor

Within the majority of our inspiration blogs, you will see us talk about having something that acts as the focal point of your kitchen and this article isn’t going to be any different.

For this, consider a unique or eye-catching backsplash. Think textured materials or a mosaic-like and colour arrangement of tiles, adding to the visual interest of your open-plan design and bringing your personality to the fold.

That isn’t the only solution. Equally, art decor stands out and can be achieved by installing picture rails or a gallery wall to display paintings and photographs, or other artistic pieces.

Whatever that may be, keep it bold and aim to catch the eye.

5. Take an industrial approach to shelving

There are many ways you can approach your shelving but a look that is growing in popularity is the industrial aesthetic.

Taking the industrial-inspired shelving approach adds a distinctive and edgy character to your open-plan kitchen. The exposed metal frames and rustic wooden shelves create a captivating visual contrast that complements various design elements.

Secondly, this shelving style offers unparalleled versatility in storage and display. With its open and accessible design, you have the freedom to showcase your most cherished kitchen essentials, from cookware and dishes to decorative items and cookbooks. This practicality not only keeps everything within easy reach but also allows you to infuse your personal touch and style into the kitchen's overall décor.

6. You can never have too much lighting

Bigger is better in our opinion and we’re taking the same approach with our lighting recommendations.

With their grand scale and unique designs, oversized pendant lighting becomes a striking focal point that commands attention and admiration. They add a touch of drama and sophistication, setting the tone for the entire open-plan area. And certainly when complemented with our last tip, they complete the industrial style.

Going oversized will cast a wide and even glow across your bigger space, providing ample illumination for cooking, dining, and entertaining. This focused and well-distributed light enhances visibility and functionality in the kitchen, ensuring you have the ideal environment for culinary endeavors.

Another consideration to think about is integrated lighting within an open shelving arrangement. While simple, LED strip lighting or puck lights underneath can provide task lighting or just a touch of elegance you may be looking for.

7. Create an illusion with floating kitchen cabinets

Nothing better encapsulates the modern look of a space than looking and wondering how it is being held up. And within the kitchen, there are multiple ways of achieving this.

We’ll focus on floating cabinets here. Floating cabinets create a seamless and uncluttered look, enhancing the spaciousness and airy atmosphere that defines an open-plan kitchen. By eliminating visible floor space beneath the cabinets, they give the illusion of more room, making your kitchen feel larger and more inviting.

As well as looking great, there are valuable and creative storage solutions. With their clean lines and minimalist design, they provide ample space to keep your kitchen essentials organised and within easy reach. This clutter-free approach not only enhances the visual appeal but also contributes to a more efficient and streamlined kitchen, making meal preparation and cooking a breeze.

8. Have you considered a pot rack on the ceiling

This clever and space-saving solution offers both practicality and visual appeal.

Firstly, a ceiling-mounted pot rack allows you to maximise your kitchen's vertical space, making use of an area that is often underutilised. By suspending your cookware from the ceiling, you free up valuable cabinet space and create a clutter-free environment, enhancing the overall openness of your open-plan kitchen.

A ceiling pot ruck also brings a touch of rustic charm. With its exposed metal frame and hanging pots and pans, it becomes an unexpected decorative element that adds character and personality to the space - far from being just a storage quirky storage solution.

And yes, there is the convenience factor, too. Having your cookware within easy reach allows for quick and efficient meal preparation. You can grab the right pan or pot whenever you need it, streamlining your cooking process and saving time.

9. Mix and match eclectic materials

While there are a number of things to consider when developing your open-plan design, it is the materials you choose that will knit the whole thing together.

Having an eclectic mix of materials adds depth and visual interest to your space. By combining various textures, colors, and finishes, you create a dynamic and layered look that captivates the eye and sparks curiosity. That could be a blend of rustic wood, sleek metal, or colorful tiles - whatever you choose, the fusion of different materials tells a story of style and individuality.

You can experiment with contrasting materials to create a harmonious balance between modern and vintage, industrial and cosy, or any other blend that resonates with you. This creative freedom extends beyond cabinetry and countertops; it encompasses flooring, backsplashes, and even lighting fixtures, giving you the opportunity to

and design sensibilities.

Lastly, instead of adhering to a single design theme, this approach encourages the coexistence of different elements. It allows you to update and refresh your kitchen's look without a major overhaul, as you can easily introduce new materials or swap out accessories to revitalise the space.

10. Consider how to bring the sun’s light in

There are a number of reasons why we have saved the introduction of architectural skylights as last tip in this list.

The main is that it is only really relevant if you are right at the beginning of your planning your design and how deep you are going with your renovation. The other is when it is done well, it is the perfect addition.

These strategically placed overhead windows bring the allure of natural light flooding into your kitchen space, elevating both aesthetics and functionality. Architectural skylights create an unparalleled sense of brightness and openness in your open-plan kitchen. By inviting ample natural light, you’re transforming the entire space, making it feel more expansive and welcoming.

These skylights offer energy-saving benefits by reducing the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours. The abundant natural light pouring in through the architectural skylights saves energy and lowers your electricity bills while promoting a sustainable and eco-friendly living environment. Moreover, the even distribution of light eliminates harsh shadows and dark corners, ensuring a well-lit and functional space throughout the day.

If you’re looking for more ways to be sustainable in the kitchen, check out this blog here.

Can we help you plan your dream open-plan kitchen design?

The overall theme of the above ideas is to be diverse and unique in your approach when mapping out the design you want for your open-plan kitchen.

Create something that feels like you and is going to make a statement, a place that you want to spend time in, whether that be by yourself cooking or entertaining family and friends.

And that’s something we can help with. At More Kitchens, we’re experts in all aspects of kitchen design and installation. Managing the entire project from start to finish, if you’re wanting to turn your transform your kitchen space, then call a friendly member of our team today or book a free design appointment with us today.

Similarly, though, if you’re not convinced after this that the simple way is the right way for you, you’ll find more inspiration with our Peninsula kitchen, and L-shaped kitchen design, blogs

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Senior Designer

Julie joined the Passmore team in August 2019 as a direct result of continued growth and company expansion, particularly the acquisition of the concession showroom in Mirfield.

A senior interior designer of bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens for just over 30 years, Julies first-hand experience, design expertise and breadth of industry knowledge makes her a fantastic addition to the sales and design team.

Having started her career at a local chemical company in the drawing office Julie quickly turned her hand to interior design first moving to Magnet before settling at Norwood Interiors where she remained for 28 years.

Outside the office Julie is a lover of fine wine and good food, perfectly mixing the two while socialising with friends and enjoying some well-deserved R&R in sunnier climates.

Visit Julie's LinkedIn Profile