Open-plan kitchen design ideas | Open-plan kitchen ideas for family life

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  • An open kitchen-dining-living space offers great versatility for the way we live today

    An open-plan kitchen suits today’s informal lifestyles, providing a natural hub for the home and greater sociability during cooking and prepping. But it takes skill to design a space that integrates easily with the living area, especially in apartments and smaller homes. Clever zoning, sound control and a cohesive decorating approach are all key factors.

    Open-plan living has become part of our everyday lives. From a home office within a living room to a kitchen-diner, these spaces should be well designed and able to utilise the best of the overall room in their function.

    Clever decorating and styling ideas will keep each area looking separate but seamless. Sound complicated? Well, fear not, as we have compiled our top tips for making the most of your open-plan space.

    Check out our kitchen channel for more great design advice and tips

    1. Tie an L-shaped space together with metallic flourishes

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    The owners had the reception room knocked through to the kitchen to create an L-shaped open-plan space. The layout has filled the space with light and offers lots more storage and worktop space. To make sure the kitchen doesn’t feel stranded round the corner, add flourishes of colour to tie the two spaces together. Here the owners have used rose gold to pick out all the metal work in the space, including the light fittings and breakfast bar stools.

    2. Define the space with different flooring

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Oliver Gordon

    The flooring that is the most functional in the kitchen might not be the best fit for the eating space in an open-plan kitchen. Here the two spaces have been kept distinct by opting for easy to clean vinyl in the kitchen area and a rustic wooden floor under the dining table. But make sure the two flooring materials and patterns compliment each other, the pale patterned vinyl contrasts beautifully with the neutral wood flooring.

    3. Make it functional and family-friendly

    Open-plan-kitchen-with-grey-units-and-leather-sofa

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    There are many advantages to having an open-plan kitchen. The most obvious is that you’ll be able to socialise more easily with family and friends while cooking. It also enables you to keep an eye on children during homework time or while they are playing in the garden. This open-plan design incorporates dining, living and entertaining zones.

    4. Think about your layout

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Alistair Nicholls

    Think about where guests will sit while you cook and where you would like to eat. Short-stay seating, such as breakfast bars, need to be situated away from the work zone so no one gets in the way, but close enough so conversation flows easily. Skylights running right along the highest point of this roof flood this open-plan kitchen and dining space with light. Hang artwork and fabulous pendant lights to lead the eye around the space.

    Read more: Kitchen extensions – how to design, plan and cost your dream space

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    5. Join it up

    Open-plan kitchen

    With no walls to obstruct light or views, open-plan spaces usually have a great sense of flow. But large rooms demand just as much care in the planning as small spaces. The working part of the kitchen in particular needs to function ergonomically. Where possible, adhere to the classic work triangle between sink, fridge and hob to cut down on footwork, using an island to help shorten these distances where necessary.

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    6. Choose a simple colour palette

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Rachel Smith

    White hi-gloss units work perfectly in this modern open-plan, monochrome scheme. When it comes to style, built-in stainless-steel appliances have a professional look, while fully integrated models are concealed behind matching cabinet doors for a streamlined effect. Consider noise levels and looks when choosing appliances, and look for appliances with decibel levels under 39dB. Keep worktops clear and hide clutter away with clever storage solutions.

    7. Opt for an industrial element

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    Modern warehouse spaces and loft apartments are ideal candidates for an open-plan kitchen. Follow the lead of existing finishes such as exposed-brick walls or vast utilitarian windows, choosing an oversized island in proportion to the space. Blocky designs and work-like materials such as stainless steel can be softened with muted colours and touches of wood to create a sensitive design that can hold its own in the space and feel inviting.

    Read more: How to plan a kitchen – your step-by-step guide to the perfect space

    8. Encourage a sociable lifestyle

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Adrian Briscoe

    If you love to entertain, a kitchen-dining room is a practical solution, allowing you to be part of the action with your guests, not shut away in a cramped kitchen. Design your space accordingly. Here, super-sleek units conceal most of the working elements of the kitchen, providing a smart and uncluttered backdrop to a modern rustic dining area.

    9. Incorporate colour

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Barbara Egan

    Open-plan kitchens look super-sleek and also offer an extremely practical way to live. As the space is used for a variety of tasks, from cooking and dining to relaxing, working and entertaining, it creates an all-inclusive environment that’s perfect for today’s modern family. Accent colours are used to define individual zones and pull the scheme together.

    10. Keep it sweet and simple

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Catherine Gratwicke

    Not all open-plan kitchens are huge, but even small spaces can shine. This compact kitchen benefits from a neat layout with all mod cons close to hand. Classic cabinetry painted in a dark shade is a sophisticated choice, especially when teamed with a beautiful wood floor. The parquet running throughout gives this room the air of a Parisian apartment, and shows that small can indeed be beautiful.

    11. Blow the budget

    Open-plan kitchen

    An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth.

    12. Break down walls

    Open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: David Giles

    Knocking down walls to produce one larger, open-plan area is an ideal way to transform a cramped, dark room. Just think of all the extra light and space you could potentially gain. Use glass screens or sliding doors to separate the cooking area from the living space and consider bar stools for a relaxed eating area. As with any structural changes to your home, always contact your local planning office. Find information on the government planning site.

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    13. Create curves

    Curved-cabinetry-open-plan-kitchen

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth.

    Will you be giving your open-plan kitchen a makeover using these design tips?

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