How to Design an Open Plan Kitchen

How to Design an Open Plan Kitchen

An open plan kitchen fits the needs of the informal lifestyle, expanding the functionality of every living space. This design concept significantly enhances social interaction among users while providing the needed comfortable space for cooking. But designing a space that combines with other living spaces would require some organizing skills, particularly in smaller homes like studio-type or one-bedroom apartments.


Open plan living is found anywhere from a home library within the living area or a dining area close to the kitchen. What's important here is that these combined spaces are completely utilized according to their intended use. Creative decorating, maximum sound control and careful zoning are all key consideration to benefit more from an open plan layout. The listed suggestions below will give you some ideas on how to design an open plan kitchen with no need to overspend:


1. Defining the zones first

Even if the living spaces are exposed to one another, an open plan kitchen should have defined area to help you decide which furniture or screening technique might be applicable. Determine first the seating zone, dining zone and then the cooking zone before finalizing the location of your kitchen. You can position the kitchen space to an external wall to make installation of plumbing fixtures, exhaust fans, and electrical wires a lot more convenient. External walls are also essential for positioning your kitchen appliances, overhead storage, and base cabinetries, otherwise, you'll be forced to use ceiling-mounted racks or free-standing shelving units.


The travel distance from the cooking zone to the dining area should be maintained at least 12 feet away. The kitchen can be placed between the living and dining area, but locating it near the dining table is more suitable. If you're considering a garden view from the kitchen, it should occupy a portion of the room that's near to the windows or sliding doors leading to an open space. This approach enhances air circulation and sunlight penetration within the kitchen.


2. Integrating the broken plan concept

Interestingly, broken plan is now the latest trend being adapted in the world of open plan living.

This modern concept involves the creation of defined zones within an open plan layout using smart interior design solutions like raised floors, texture variations, and moving partitions. Moving furnitures are utilized to separate one living zone to another without breaking the essence of an open plan layout. These include vertical slats, accordion dividers, bookcases, interior landscape, and free-standing cabinets.


Broken plan creates a subtle impression of displacement between the spaces, but still provides you a "spacious" feel throughout the area. Here, there's no breaking down of walls or any structural modifications needed to achieve its purpose. In this way, you can minimize the distracting noises of the dining area from the living zone. In addition, these practical screening solutions can also protect your kitchen from being exposed to your guest during small social gatherings.


In this approach, you are able to explore different architectural solutions which may bring out the elegance of your limited space. Consider using two different flooring materials for each zone. For example, you can install granite tiles for the kitchen floor and then use laminated flooring for the lounge area. Another approach is to use similar color variations on wall cabinets at the kitchen and furnitures at the dining area.


Take time to think about whether loud-sounding equipment like washing machine should be included in your kitchen. The sound of the spin cycles may disrupt the flow of conversation or may disturb the quiet atmosphere of your living space. Try to consider keeping your appliances either on a separate utility area or an appliance cabinet just to minimize the noise.


3. Incorporating different material textures

Think about how people will pass through from one zone to another, noticing the material finishes on your walls, floors or even countertops. Aside from screens, surface variations can also help build a unique character for every living space. Carefully identify the areas that need to be installed with rough finishes, wood-like themes, and natural stone patterns. The material texture can create an impression of privacy for the users, but it won't ruin the visual link that binds these individual spaces together.


However, the visual connection should be carefully planned in order not to lose the essence of an open plan living. You may consider using exposed brick walls to connect the dining area to your kitchen. Using similar lighting fixtures in the same zone can also create a unified look. Alternatively, opt to use granite for the kitchen counters and then use a natural stone motif on a coffee table at the lounge area, provided that both spaces are not too far away from each other.


4. Creating a floor plan for an open plan kitchen

By this time, you should have determined already where to locate the kitchen. Devising a kitchen floor plan can help locate the exact positions of your electrical wires, lighting switches, cabinets, kitchen appliances and pipe lines for both supply and discharge. Consider selecting a kitchen layout that will suit your current cooking lifestyle. For this, you may ask some professional help from a kitchen designer to maximize your space more effectively.


Having a kitchen layout will give you enough ideas on how you can plan the kitchen in relation to your available space and cooking style. These common kitchen layouts include single-run or linear, galley, L-shaped and U-shaped. Each layout provides the opportunity to make cooking and prepping more efficient. You can add an island kitchen where it can be utilized as a breakfast bar or an additional preparation area.


6. Creating a list of the important things you need

Deciding on what to include in your kitchen will help you save time and energy. These kitchen essentials will also determine how much space you will need for the preparation zone, the cooking zone, and the washing zone. The list below will only serve as guidance, so you won't lose that excitement upon cooking your first family meal:

  • Overhead wall cabinet
  • Base cabinet
  • Open shelving units
  • Island kitchen and peninsula
  • Extractor fan
  • Breakfast bar
  • Cooking appliances like oven, cooking range, refrigerator and dishwasher
  • Primary and secondary sink
  • Task lighting fixtures


Even if you only have limited space for your kitchen in an open plan layout, still, it should be designed functional, efficient and great-looking. Remember that any kitchen that's part of an open plan concept can make a huge impact on other spaces.

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  • Dale Basilla
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