The Perfect Kitchen and Dining Space
Cooking, dining and entertaining – how to make your large open-plan room really work
The popularity of open-plan living shows no sign of abating with homeowners opening up their ground-floor rooms to incorporate cooking, dining and, often, socialising areas. But while they have many advantages, they can bring some pitfalls. Here’s how to avoid them…
An island is a good way to define the space but consider how you will use it. Will it be used for food preparation and, if so, will guests be sitting up there on bar stools at the same time? Unless you are a culinary showman then you might find it stressful to be juggling workspace with guests’ drinking glasses. Give yourself enough room and consider a bigger work surface elsewhere in the kitchen. L-shaped islands that wrap around the kitchen area deter guests and kids from getting in the way of the cook.
Broken-plan living is a popular solution for dividing up an open-plan space, creating specific areas for different activities. This can be done with lighting, different floor levels, room dividers and even sliding doors – the latter is a perfect solution that also deals with the issue of noise and screening off mess whilst also offering a perfect party space.
Make sure you have ample cupboard space and consider whether you have the discipline for a neat display cupboard or you prefer to hide all your clutter. There’s a lot to store if you’re combining a kitchen and dining room – and, potentially, a living area. In theory, you are creating more space, but it is worth giving it careful thought. Burbridge notes that multifunctional and hidden storage is an essential feature for kitchens in the coming year and the demand for bespoke storage is expected to rise, along with pretty and practical glass fronted dressers to put your best wares on display.
Big spaces, tiled walls and floors – it’s a recipe for high decibel levels. Add thick curtains and rugs to help absorb some of the noise for a quick fix. Other solutions include adding texture to walls or ceilings with wood panelling. Acoustic panels, wall hangings and sound absorbing art are a good solution, and come in a variety of funky designs.
Think about the noise that will be created by dishwashers, fridges and washing machines. It might be that you have space for a separate utility room but if not, choose appliances that have the lowest possible decibel levels.
SET SOME GROUND RULES
If you’re not careful, the big sociable space can just become a dumping ground for everything. For open-plan to work, you need ample storage elsewhere (so bags and coats go into an under-stair cloakroom, for example) and make sure everyone sticks to tidying away.
If you can see all your food prep and a massive pile of dishes to wash up, it doesn’t make for a tranquil dinner. Look at island units with a raised front, behind which you can hide the clutter. Use lighting creatively – turn the light off in the kitchen space while you eat and have the focus on a cool pendant light fitting over the dining table. Double-sided fireplaces or a central fireplace bring a real sense of cosiness to an open-plan room.
The kitchen/diner will be a busy space so you need to consider practical flooring that is easy to keep clean but won’t look harsh and clinical in a dining or living area. It also needs to be safe so look at surfaces that are not going to turn into an ice rink if a drink gets spilled. Tapi Carpets notes that luxury vinyl tiles give you the authentic look of real stone with the practicalities of water resistant flooring, and are slip resistant.