Designing an open plan living space

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Now more than ever, open plan kitchens are one of the most desired change to any home and creating open plan living and multi-functional space in your home is becoming more and more popular.  The UK has thoroughly embraced the idea of open plan living over the last decade but there are many points to consider if you are to get this beautiful, light and airy feel just right and the importance of how to zone the space should be considered at the very early stages.

With many people living in dark period properties or smaller mid century homes the move to knock down wall or add more space with an extension is a desire of many.  A recent survey of 2000 UK homeowners found that one third of all work to period properties (Victorian, Georgian, Edwardian) was for open plan kitchen diners.

To create a space where parents can cook dinner whilst children do home work or watch TV and to provide a space for integrated family time without being divided and shut off from each other, is an important need for families and couples alike. Creating  larger and brighter spaces provide convenience and sociability. However zoning the space is extremely important in making each area have it’s own feel without being divided.

Whilst you want fluidity and ease of movement around your large open area, it is important to define certain spaces within it. So how do you achieve this?


Lighting is of upmost importance in creating your open plan space. Different lighting in each defined area works well in creating the zones and breaking up the areas whilst lighting the areas independently of each other creates a functional but ambient use for different needs and moods.

The designing of the lighting plan is totally linked to how the space is going to be used and it is attention to detail in the early stages that will create the most effective and dramatic results. You need to get the essentials right, the correct mix of well positioned down-lights and under-cabinet lighting ensures you have no shadows when it comes to using your kitchen efficiently, whilst pendants positioned over fixed points such as kitchen islands or a breakfast bars can add a decorative element.  Clever integrated lighting within ceiling details and wall fittings provides an element of ambience, especially with the ability to dim.


Flooring can also help define your zones. Rugs are a simple yet cost effective way of doing this and adding a rug to your lounge area immediately makes the space feel cosy and relaxing.  Using different flooring in different zones of the room means you can use softer flooring in cosy areas and hard-wearing options in the kitchen-diner.


Colours and textures play an important role too.  Painting a lounge wall a striking colour to coordinate with the kitchen or adding a wooden feature wall to the dining area will add warmth and make the area feel atmospheric.  Adding a coffee table to the lounge in a similar wood creates a link to the two spaces.  Always start with your desired kitchen style and colour first, as this will be there for the longest time, everything else can be more easily changed in time if required.


Have you thought how your furniture can create the open plan look you desire, whilst maintaining different, functional areas?  Space permitted, the  importance of a kitchen island or breakfast bar is a fantastic way to define space.   A breakfast bar or an island can also be used to informally zone the space, acting as a natural divide between cooking and relaxing, whilst the positioning of bar stools create that much needed function and style.


Another point to consider in your quest for open space is shelving.  Open shelving is a brilliant way to open up your space whilst maintaining a good level of storage in your kitchen.  A shelving unit with no back on it will define the areas whilst offering light and function and practicality to your design. It also offers the chance to show case your collection of plates or cookbooks, allowing an insight of your personality to shine through and co-ordinate your colours throughout your zones.

With’ broken-plan’ living being the new ‘open-plan’ living, let us help you achieve this look. Creating the perfect atmosphere in your open plan kitchen is a fine art. The practical has to meet the aesthetically-pleasing in a way that suits your home and family, and at Trumans Kitchens we can guide and assist you in your designs. For more information on open plan kitchens please contact us here.