Open Plan or Broken Plan

Have you come to the realisation your home layout does not work or you need more space? Perhaps you’re considering an extension or alterations to create the ‘open-plan’ dream? But is one combined space right for you and your house - or should you consider a ‘broken-plan’?

Open-plan or through-living has been one of the most popular shifts in our home interiors in recent years. Knocking down walls can create a sense of extra space, light, sociability and flow that many people desire - especially for larger families and entertaining. However it’s not for everyone. Many people prefer semi-open areas with a bit of separation to maintain some order for everyday living. Therefore more people are moving towards a compromise - broken-plan living. Providing partial division of areas while retaining a natural sense of flow throughout. It means keeping the best things about open-plan but also factoring in a primary zone with a specific use, allowing a large area to become a multi-purpose hub, bringing the whole family together but still retaining an element of privacy.

An all-in-one room encompassing cooking, dining and living areas with expansive glass doors to bring the outside-in, sounds great in theory. But while the result can look spacious, it may mean our living rooms never feel truly relaxing, because they’re still connected to the bustle of the kitchen. Quiet spots and of course privacy is reduced, as well as useful walls to place art or furniture - not everyone wants an ‘island kitchen’ or their hob facing the social space so they feel they have to put on cookery demonstrations. If you can’t ignore a messy kitchen whilst hosting a diner party - we can help!

Simply taking walls out will not necessarily solve all the issues. Ironically, larger living spaces can end up feeling too big, undefined, possibly cluttered and less cosy.

We consider and design many solutions for all kinds of property dilemmas. There is no all-encompassing fix. We use several methods & techniques in various combinations - all subject to the numerous factors involved, including the build structure, house style the overall brief and of course the budget!

It’s a matter of balance - adjusting the structure to achieve the right function & feel. This can be achieved by a simple increased opening, supporting columns or a change of floor level - to incorporating sliding doors or even a double-sided fireplace. Appropriate furniture, finishes & lighting further adds to the demarcation, often for budget or practical needs. Having different floor materials & contrasting textures - an exposed brick wall for instance gives a cosier/characterful atmosphere and strategic mirrors bring light, views & sense of spaciousness.

The broken-plan concept offers a lot of opportunity to incorporate these ideas in creative and interesting ways, providing distinction, adding visual change & flexible zones - intended for the different functions.

So before you get started with that sledge hammer, ask a builder over, or bolt-on a lean-to, maybe re consider your ‘interior-living’ objectives, including longer term goals, future resale and how you really want to use your home!

This modern farmhouse kitchen is separated from a large dining area by the oak posts (actually need needed for support) and the lower level seating area leading onto the garden, retains a sense of fluidity and connection to the dining zone above, but a greater sense of difference thanks to just a single step.

The (once dark) hall has also been opened with a new oak staircase acting as the divider but still allowing light to flow through the whole house. The result is a space where a family can easily ‘hang-out together’ but all areas naturally flow into one another.

This contemporary extension has a lower ceiling and pillar between the kitchen and more open day lounge area.

The built-in dining with bench seating focus towards the garden views and aid a visual block from the chaos of cooking when you’re enjoying a meal with family or guests.

This modernist space has glass wall divides and sliding glass doors so the kitchen can be closed-off.

And the lounge area can be separated from the TV snug