If you’re planning a major re-vamp on your home, one of options you may have been considering is whether or not to go open plan with your living space. It’s likely to be an expensive project involving a large amount of work, so you need to be sure before you go ahead! Make sure you’ve thought of everything before you start with our guide.
What is open plan?
An open plan living space means that there are no walls separating the rooms. The most common example is creating one large space which contains the kitchen, dining area and possibly lounge area as well. It’s an approach that’s only really suitable for common living spaces, or to create a spacious master bedroom suite with an integral dressing area. As you’re removing some of the dividing walls, you may have to replace them with some structural work such as beams.
Pros of open plan
One of the main benefits of this type of open space is that it turns several small rooms into one large one, creating an illusion of a much bigger, airier living area. It can make life easier, as there are no barriers between the kitchen and dining areas when you’re serving room, and it means you don’t have doorways as ‘pinch points’ so it makes traffic flow easier. You’ll also get a space that makes more use of natural light, as you’ll benefit from windows on both sides of the house at once. It can also encourage shared time and conversation – for example, someone sitting at the dining table can chat to whoever’s in the kitchen.
Cons of open plan
The main disadvantage of open plan is that your heating bill may rocket! Instead of heating several small rooms, you’re now heating one much longer space. If you’re planning a big project and removing walls, it’s well worth considering a cost effective heating method at this stage, such as underfloor heating – after all, you’ll have to replace the floor anyway.
The second disadvantage is noise, as you’ll have no way of shutting out, for example, the sound of the television in the sitting area while you’re in the kitchen. Finally, it can be hard to find any privacy in a house with shared living areas, so it’s not ideal to incorporate a study or work area. Cooking aromas can also be a problem, as there’s no way of keeping them in one area of the room. If you’re also re-planning the kitchen as part of your project, consider ventilation and strategic extractor fans.
Decorating an open plan space
Decorating your new, huge living area gives you a lot of options. You might like to differentiate between the kitchen and dining area with different flooring, or by using a bank of cabinets or table as a divider. Alternatively, putting down the same flooring and using a similar colour scheme throughout will create an impression of space and tie all the elements together. Remember that as you’ll be able to see all of your living area at the same time, it all needs to work harmoniously! You’ll also need to incorporate plenty of closed storage – after all, if you can see every part of the room from every other part, it all needs to be relatively tidy!
If you like, you can visually break the room up by using focal points such as fireplaces, or even screens as room dividers. If you need to accommodate any existing large pieces of furniture, such as sofas or big pictures, remember that you’ll be losing some wall space with the new design so make sure there’s room for everything.
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