Depending on where you live or the period of your house your home will tell you a lot about how people lived at the time when it was built. (Think small factory cottages with few windows or a large open fire in your Georgian kitchen). It can make a cute period reference or be a total pain to live contemporary life in.
Open plan living appeals much more to our modern way of being and gives us opportunities to spend time together with our busy lives. But there is more to designing open plan living floor plans than just taking down all your walls. We’ve got some key points for you to consider before you open up…
Find Your Multi-purpose
Open plan kitchens are very popular in most modern homes, as dedicated dining rooms can often be a waste in a busy house. The kitchen is always likely to be central to any open plan living ideas you might have as a space where you can prep dinner and still have the kids where you can see them. If you feel ambitious, you can extend your open plan ground floor to become a general open plan living area, incorporating your home office design or even add home cinema projectors for turning the central space into ad hoc movie house.
Open floor plans, especially if combined with great storage or multi-purpose furniture can greatly increase your options. Elsewhere an open plan bedroom with a bath in the centre can turn two pokey rooms into a luxurious private suite. So don’t just stick to an open plan kitchen diner when reviewing your space: with open plan living everything is up for grabs so write down anything you’d love to include before you start.
What Can You live with?
Firstly, it needs to work. The best open floor plans avoid that sense of a soulless, empty football pitch but also have a proper flow around well considered open plan furniture. Consider widening doors rather than totally taking down walls to keep some areas zoned (i.e. kids not hanging off the back of the sofa or to keep a stretch of wall you can put your home office furniture against). An open plan living area means you also need to be able to change up the purpose of the space seamlessly (i.e. not feel you have to look at that pile of filing when cooking).
So with an open kitchen design you many want to include multi-purpose furniture such as under seating drawers for homework or a cupboard that opens to reveal an office work space in the home.
Use it All Day Long
An open plan space has to work for the different purposes it has all day. Breakfast in the morning, a place to focus and create during the day or as a yoga space to wind down at night. As humans we tend to use light as a mood setter; we need bright or task lights during the day and a darker space to signify bedtime is approaching. To aid these transitions, plan your open living space by considering it as a series of interlinking ‘purposes’ and not just square metres that you move through.
For space or room dividers try using different floor levels for your living room floor plans, or a half wall room divider, so the space still seems open but has ‘zones’. Creative room dividers can include screens that fold back into a wall or use old fabric dressing screens that can create an intriguing element to peer through. Lighting is essential here, using spots and track lighting on two circuits you can control separately. This way you can turn down one dimmer light switch and draw the eye to just one section with a pool of light.
Open plan house designs require careful consideration to sound insulation as there are fewer surfaces to deflect and absorb nose. Wooden floors can make for squeaky floors, so floor insulation and soundproofing plus general acoustic insulation for the walls and ceiling should be considered too. Ensure privacy (and prevent the kids running down to catch the car chase on your film) by using soundproofed doors for bedrooms. For heat preservation consider under floor heating and blinds with heat insulation such as Duette®Shades to keep you cosy on winter nights.
Adding in character and form through choice of materials is essential when planning open spaces. Flooring for open plan living takes some serious thought but works to great effect; downy rugs and carpets can change up the mood of sections of your space. Consider function; from practical wood flooring or floor tiles in the dining area to polished parquet flooring with an expensive rug for your relaxing zone.
Walls that change mood in different sections (wood to stone) help make you feel sensually that the atmosphere or role of the space you are in has changed. Even painting sections of wall different colours can help achieve this.
Steal Back Space
When open living planning, look where you can gain or cheat space. Lots of Victorian houses have side returns that can add both floor space and light, if you make it mostly glass. It’s also a good time to consider French doors or bi-fold doors that allow for movement into the garden or conservatory, for a smooth transition into summer dining.
Removing entrance hallway walls and putting in shallow sliding closet doors will retain storage for coats but reclaim space from having just a purely transitional function. Manage the bright midday sun and thermal gain from these new spaces with large window coverings designed to manage the variations in light such as our Plissé® and Silhouette®Shades ranges. If you have large windows and don’t want to come home to a greenhouse in the summer, take a look at our PowerView® motorisation that helps you manage your home from wherever you are. Now that really is open-minded.
To see all the options we can offer to help you manage light, visit our Product section.