The pros and cons of open-plan living

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Open-plan living is the perfect way to bind a kitchen, typically at the back of the house, with other rooms and the garden to create one large multi-functional and light-filled space. In the recent years, open-plan living has become a very popular option when redesigning and configuring a new kitchen design. It boasts a great number of advantages, including adding value to your home. More and more people are buying then knocking down walls for that big open space. It seems very dated to have kitchen, lounge and diner in all separate rooms now.

Research was conducted by the National Association of Estate Agents revealed that opening up space, and kitchen makeovers are within the top four home improvements that will add value to a property. I certain prefer the open space over individual rooms and it makes it easier when you are entertaining guests. In last year’s UK Houzz Report, which is based on survey results from the Houzz community, 54% of homeowners were making their kitchens more open to other rooms, with 35% knocking down walls and opening up space completely. Moreover, in a recent Houzz poll, which asked, “Yay or Nay to Open-plan Kitchens?”, the result was overwhelmingly in favour of the idea, with 840 voting “yay” to 230 voting “nay”.  My guess is the older generation preferring the traditional separate rooms.

The popularity of open-plan living has boomed thanks to the opportunities it creates for a more sociable space to make family memories, host parties and make dinner. But what happens when the party ends? Is open-plan living all it’s cracked up to be? Harvey Jones, contemporary kitchens specialists, investigate.

A social space?
Open-plan living provides homeowners with a social space, this is an area that can be used for more than just preparing and cooking daily meals. Knocking down walls to combine kitchen and dining spaces helps inject more light into your home which creates a spacious feel. This open plan space quickly becomes the focal point in the home, creating a fluid space that binds rooms together. If you are a host, or an entertainer, an open-plan kitchen is the dream – providing a space that you can use to socialise with guests whilst cooking as opposed to feeling isolated when cooking in one room whilst trying to juggle hosting skills and whipping up dishes.
With an open-space, whilst it obviously looks visually bigger, there are design methods that allow you to identify different zones, whilst remaining open. From zone lighting to kitchen islands, breakfast bars and dining booths, just because you design an open-space, doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t identify sections of the room to maintain a structure. Bi-folding doors (these are my favourite) helps to enhance the natural light even more, whilst bringing the nature of the garden into the room.
There are practical advantages too – open-plan spaces provide plenty of space for the whole family to enjoy meaning parents can keep an eye on children playing whilst they stay busy in the kitchen. Open-plan takes away the need for parents to be in ‘two places at once’.

A chaotic space?
Does having everything in one place, with the whole family together, and several tasks going on at once sound like chaos? You wouldn’t be necessarily wrong. Whilst open-plan living has many advantages including a social space for hosting, cooking, partying and eating some owners find the cons outweigh the pros. Roaming smells and odours from cooking circulating around more than just your kitchen space can be a direct result of open-plan kitchen spaces. If your kitchen is merged with your living space, do you want to be sat on the sofa watching TV with the lingering smell of the fish cakes you had for tea? I have open kitchen and my sofa needs to be steam cleaned yearly to get rid of that layer of cooking grease you cannot see with your own eyes.
And, it is easy for these spaces to become chaotic and untidy especially with children. For a successful open-plan space, you’ll need to find appropriate storage solutions to store all your kitchen utensils, children’s toys, magazines and books and more. Do you want to spend the evening being reminded of the dishes that you didn’t wash after your evening meal? A separate utility space, however, eliminates this problem, and provides a space to hide all your washing, dirty dishes, and provides a door between you and any noisy appliances that could disturb you when eating, relaxing or watching TV.

Open-plan living is a personal preference for many modern homeowners, but not everyone. Whilst it is proven to be one of the most popular kitchen refurb projects, it’s a style of living not suited to every homeowner. What would you be choosing if given the choice?


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