Open plan or separate kitchen/dining room?

For centuries the kitchen was strictly a workplace, often tucked in the back of the house with room for just the bare essentials. Kitchens used to be designed to prevent the smell from cooking wafting throughout the house, but a peek at many new kitchens today reveals a very different approach: the open kitchen is at the heart of the home.

Homeowners are shunning traditional house layouts in favour of ‘open plan living’, investing money into social areas instead of designated dining rooms, hallways and kitchens. A survey of 2,000 people by Lloyds TSB Home Insurance revealed that over a fifth of homeowners have taken a sledgehammer to their walls during the last decade, while an equal proportion have similar plans afoot. Thirty-two percent of those seeking to create more social spaces have sacrificed a separate dining room, while 18 percent have converted a garage and 12 percent have ditched a single-purpose kitchen. It would seem that kitchen/dining rooms – the hallmark of open plan – have grown in popularity by fifty percent in a generation and three in ten of today’s homes have one.

Of course, open plan kitchens aren’t the choice of everyone. Some choose to keep the dining room a separate social space as they prefer for their guests not to look at the piles of washing up dumped on the side whilst they are entertaining and others prefer their guests to sit quaffing wine in the dining room whilst they can hide away and cook. Cons to open plan kitchens are that the entire kitchen/dining room can become cluttered quickly, leaving everything on display, children’s toys travel everywhere because there are no walls or doors to stop them, you have to heat a much larger area in the depths of winter and, if you don’t have a separate utility room, you’ll be eating whilst listening to the whirring of the washing machine and dishwasher.

The pros of having an open plan kitchen, however, seem to outweigh the cons. Open plan means more social time with the family and guests. The person cooking in the kitchen can join in with the conversation rather than being shut away. If you have a family, it means being able to keep an eye on the kids – who doesn’t want to be able to get on with cooking and other household chores whilst their kids play in the same room. Open plan also means a potential increase in view and natural light.

In some traditional households, the dining room will always remain the symbol of the united family, staying connected across crystal wine glasses and witty banter. Nobody is having a meltdown because they can’t watch Peppa Pig while they eat their dinner. Unfortunately, real life isn’t like that. The future and our busy lifestyles are dictating the open plan way of living, particularly for families. The combined layout allows for optimum multitasking – parents can prepare dinner, watch the news and help with homework at the same time.

In short, there’s no set formula that can tell you which kitchen layout will work better in your home. Just because you have a family, doesn’t mean you have to opt for open plan living. Part of having a conversation with us is trying to figure out what would be best for you. Start with a list of wants and needs and go from there. You have to consider the way you live in your home, who you share it with and the way you use the space.

Feel free to share with us your own ideas and experiences with converting an open or close plan. We would love to hear your views and, of course, if you would like any help or advice on your new kitchen/dining room or remodelling your kitchen, please get in touch- We would be happy to help.