Long before the advent of electricity, family kitchens – even in the most modest of homes – tended to be large to allow the family to gather together to eat in a room with a heat source such as a wood-burning stove.
Once electricity and gas brought in time-saving devices, however, fewer people – and less time – were required for cooking, and so the kitchen lost some of its importance, with family members gravitating towards other areas of the house, such as the living room.
Open Plan Living Ideas
Now, however, things have come full circle, and the kitchen has once again become the central hub of many houses; providing a ‘social centre’ in which the whole family can dine, relax and spend quality time together. This ‘all-in-one’ living space simultaneously fulfils multi-purpose functions such as cooking and dining, but also provides an open-plan living area where mum or dad can check their emails on a laptop, while children play on the floor with their toys.
Due to their versatile nature, family rooms have to be flexible enough to allow for both easy entertaining and good traffic flow. Despite needing to meet all of these requirements, however, creating an open-plan living area doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few tips for creating an informal living space that can be used all day through….
Create different zones: Consider first of all where you want to have defined activity areas. While you won’t want guests – or kids – getting in the way when you’re preparing food, you’ll still want to have everyone in relatively close proximity. A kitchen island can be a good way of naturally dividing your cooking area from your relaxation area.
This should be as close as possible to natural light. If you live in a house, your optimal view is obviously over the garden so – if your budget allows – you could consider installing French windows to open up your kitchen to the outdoors. Alternatively, if you live in an apartment, your table should be situated next to a window.
If your kitchen is big enough, use a focal point, such as a sofa, to section off a ‘living’ area. To facilitate flow, make sure that diners can push their chairs back freely and have room to move around.
A combined, open-plan, ‘all-in-one’ kitchen will have the highest footfall of the house and so it needs to be easily kept clean, so steer clear of carpets and choose practical kitchen flooring.
From a cosmetic point of view, try to theme your living area. An industrial stainless steel kitchen, for example, won’t blend with a rustic French provincial dining area, so try to tie each of the elements into a particular style.
Then, simply take a seat in your new ‘all-in-one’ room, relax and enjoy!
Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email firstname.lastname@example.org