by Nick 9. February 2012 22:24

Flexi-plan living


Q. We are looking at the possibility of breaking through between our kitchen and dining room to form an open plan kitchen/dining/living space. What are the advantages and disadvantages and will this impact the value of our house should we come to sell?

A. Anything that involves design is affected by fashion, be it clothing, furniture, electrical goods, cars etc. The very best designs and ideas are timeless and will always be sought after. The same applies to new buildings, extensions and refurbishments. 


The idea of opening plan living is not new. The world-renowned modern architect Le Corbusier pioneered it back in the 1920’s and 30’s and it became widely used in the 1960’s.

Over the last 10-15 years breaking through between kitchens and dining rooms has become very popular resulting in the loss of the traditional dining room. The creation of an open plan space where meals can be prepared while socialising with friends of family can be attractive and may suit current lifestyles, however there can be disadvantages when entertaining:-


·        Noise can be transmitted by appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and food processors

·        Cooking smells are not confined to the preparation areas.

·        Dirty dishes look untidy as they start to accumulate.


I am not suggesting that open plan kitchen dining areas should be avoided. We have created a number of these spaces recently because they were right for that client and the property. With careful design many of the disadvantages can be minimised and overcome.:-


·        Design the space to avoid visual sight lines between the dinning area and main preparation/washing up areas. An L shaped room works well.

·        The simple inclusion of low-level walls to the front of worktops avoids direct sight of dishes from the entertaining area.


We should not necessarily be looking to revert back to the full segregation of living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms of the past, however we should look at all possibilities to refine and improve current design trends.


With all our clients we explore the potential of creating flexible spaces. Living areas can be opened up using folding partitions, sliding doors, moveable walls and fold back doors. With a little imagination these can be cost effective solutions to give the user the best of all worlds. The property can be open plan for everyday living or a party while rooms can also be closed off in different combinations to create more private areas. Consider your stage of life, young growing families, retirement etc. Will the design adapt to changes in circumstance?


The impact on potential property value is difficult to evaluate. This is very specific to the property, design, extent of alteration,  and what a buyer is looking for. On behalf of our clients, we look at working closely with estate agents at early stages of a project to establish estimated sales values based on sketch proposals. This gives an early indication prior to proceeding to detailed drawing stage. 





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