Here at Refresh Renovations, we love the nature of open plan kitchens and how they bring the entire family together in one large social space. Not only do they create a “zone” whereby everyone can be as one, but they also make the space feel much bigger too, utilising every single inch.
Whilst there are plenty of positives to creating an open plan kitchen, there are also some drawbacks to having a space like this. You may find that it can be messy if not kept organised, with things all over the floor, and you can also find that the smell of cooking can linger for longer and be more widespread.
However, the truth is, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and there are a variety of reasons why you should think about creating an open plan kitchen in your home. You will need to keep in mind that you will need expert help to ensure that the space is perfectly designed. Something that our Refresh Renovations specialists can help you to do.
This expert help will come in the form of either an architect or a designer. Both of whom will help ensure that your kitchen is exactly what you want it to be and that you best utilise the space you have.
Here are some of our recommendations to get the very best from your kitchen extension.
Use room dividers
Just because you have an open plan living space, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create zones in that space. Room dividers are a great way to do this. You can use pocket doors or large internal glazed doors, which will help separate key zones and allow you to close off the kitchen when you want to. Such as if you had moved into the living room and wanted to feel separate from the rest of the downstairs.
Another super stylish and practical option to consider is to use internal steel doors which shut between the lounge and the kitchen/diner.
Create separate flooring levels
A great way to separate your lounge and your dining area is to use different flooring levels. This allows you to still be sociable but having levels and areas that are clearly defined. This particular approach takes more effort, time and planning than others. It will usually need to be incorporated when you are first designing the space (and building an extension if this is needed), which means that you will need to consider and plan this well before you start any work.
Need some inspiration? How about a mezzanine level - a raised stunning lounge area, which then looks down onto a dining area and stunning kitchen. Here at Refresh Renovations, we love this design idea because it allows the kitchen to be separated into zones but still feels like a shared space.
Mix up the flooring
Another great way to zone your open-plan space is to use flooring to define the areas and add a sense of purpose. You can use flooring in different patterns or colours whilst still having colours and patterns that work well together.
Approaches that you can take with this are keeping the same material for the floor but then changing the pattern you choose, such as having herringbone oak in one zone and then straight oak planks in other areas.
You could also have completely different flooring types in the space, such as carpet in the lounge area and tiles in the kitchen. With so many flooring options, the great thing about taking this approach is that you are sure to find a way to express your own sense of individuality.
Open plan kitchens work, particularly when you add contrasting flooring and, in turn, dividing areas.
Design top tip, tiles on the floor, which then match the splashbacks on the wall, show that this is the kitchen area. It is also complemented by open shelving, allowing lots of light to flow through the space.
Position your furniture carefully
Another way to create zones in your open plan room is to position your furniture in specific ways. This will help you stop the room's flow and allow it to feel more compact rather than one ample space.
People may decide to do this because they have children and want them to have a space that they can play in and own, whilst leaving the rest of the kitchen for its proper use.
Some of the best furniture for this purpose are L-shaped sofas, which will separate the zones and give you a comfortable space to sit too. A deep coloured sofa, especially combined with a luxurious rug, creates a cosy snug in an otherwise large open plan area and works well to set them apart from the rest of the area.
Sound proof as best you can
One downside of an open plan space is that the sound can move around and cause it to feel noisy. However, the good news is that there are ways that you can soundproof the space as best that you can.
Soft furnishings, such as rugs and curtains, prove to be a great help when it comes to absorbing much of that noise and, even better than this, they also add texture, colour, and some interest into space.
When it comes to sound limiting, you should also think about the flooring that you choose too. The harder the floor, then the less it will control and limit the noise that is produced (so tiles might not be the ideal choice for a quiet space); it is a much better idea to choose vinyl and rubber if you want to minimise the noise and still have a great looking space.
Layering with cushions and throws, as well as carpet in a living area not only makes it feel warm and inviting but also limits the noise too.
Plan the lighting
The lighting scheme you choose will also help define and separate the living areas in your open-plan space. Spotlights are known to make any space feel brighter, but they can be harsh at times. Another option to consider is cabinet lights, as they can be switched on in the evening and give a softer glow to the kitchen space. You can also have your spotlights on several circuits, allowing you to light up just the parts you want. Not the entire space.
If you want to create a separate zone, then a pendant light will help. It will also make sure your living space feels formal and stylish too.
Lighting can be incredibly clever, chose lighting that will work throughout the day. Spotlights as well as pendant lighting and even a tall lamp in the seating area, will help to make sure that you have the right atmosphere in the space you are in.
Think about how to contain cooking smells
Worried about having to cope with cooking smells lingering in your home after you have whipped up a storm? This can be an issue with open plan living. This issue is unavoidable; however, that doesn’t mean that there are not things that you can do to help.
It is good to place the oven and the hob as close to the window as you can, as this will help any smells escape. You also want to invest in a suitable quality extractor as this will also remove the odours leftover from cooking. A large central extractor in an open plan kitchen can be an excellent solution. It adds to the style of any modern space and will effectively contain any cooking smells.
Use a key feature to create a "broken plan" kitchen
When it comes to creating a "broken plan" (which is a broken up open-plan space) kitchen, there are several clever ways that you can try to do this. One excellent option is to use a key feature placed in the room to "break up" the flow of the space.
Try this great way to create a sociable space that is still split into clear zones. A central focus wood-burning stove, is striking and ensures the lounge area is separated from the kitchen. If you have a classified supporting wall, we’d recommend installing a feature fireplace.
Don't try to cram too much into the space
Depending on the nature of your home, the kitchen extension might not create as much space as you hope, particularly if you live in a mid-terraced property. Extensions on these properties tend to be narrower than others, which means that you will be short on space.
It is essential that you only add as much as you can into your space, that you never try to cram too much in. If you do this, then you can end up making the entire room look cramped, which is the opposite of what you wanted to do when you extended it (and made it an open plan).
A great way to extend a narrow kitchen but maximise the space, is a large island unit in the centre. Combine with a glazed ceiling and a dining area which flows perfectly with the garden brings in plenty of light into a narrow space.
Use a breakfast bar to clearly define the kitchen from the living space
In both larger and smaller open plan kitchen diners, you may find that a breakfast bar will work really well and is super effective. They are great at clearly defining the kitchen area and any social or living spaces.
Ready to discuss your kitchen extension ideas? Why not Get in Touch with Refresh today to book a free, no obligation consultation with one of our Refresh Renovation Specialists!