Open-plan kitchen design ideas to make your space the heart of the home

An open kitchen-dining-living space offers great versatility for the way we live today

An open-plan kitchen suits today’s informal lifestyles, providing a natural hub for the home and greater sociability during cooking and prepping. But it takes skill to design a space that integrates easily with the living area, especially in apartments and smaller homes. Clever zoning, sound control and a cohesive decorating approach are all key factors.

Open-plan living has become part of our everyday lives. From a home office within a living room to a kitchen-diner, these spaces should be well designed and able to utilise the best of the overall room in their function.

Clever decorating and styling ideas will keep each area looking separate but seamless. Sound complicated? Well, fear not, as we have compiled our top five tips for making the most of your open-plan space, without breaking the bank.

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1. Make it functional and family-friendly

Open-plan-kitchen-with-grey-units-and-leather-sofa

Image credit: Darren Chung

There are many advantages to having an open-plan kitchen. The most obvious is that you’ll be able to socialise more easily with family and friends while cooking. It also enables you to keep an eye on children during homework time or while they are playing in the garden. This open-plan design incorporates dining, living and entertaining zones.

2. Think about your layout

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Alistair Nicholls

Think about where guests will sit while you cook and where you would like to eat. Short-stay seating, such as breakfast bars, need to be situated away from the work zone so no one gets in the way, but close enough so conversation flows easily. Skylights running right along the highest point of this roof flood this open-plan kitchen and dining space with light. Hang artwork and fabulous pendant lights to lead the eye around the space.

Read more: Kitchen extensions – how to design, plan and cost your dream space

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3. Join it up

Open-plan kitchen

With no walls to obstruct light or views, open-plan spaces usually have a great sense of flow. But large rooms demand just as much care in the planning as small spaces. The working part of the kitchen in particular needs to function ergonomically. Where possible, adhere to the classic work triangle between sink, fridge and hob to cut down on footwork, using an island to help shorten these distances where necessary.

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4. Choose a simple colour palette

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Rachel Smith

White hi-gloss units work perfectly in this modern open-plan, monochrome scheme. When it comes to style, built-in stainless-steel appliances have a professional look, while fully integrated models are concealed behind matching cabinet doors for a streamlined effect. Consider noise levels and looks when choosing appliances, and look for appliances with decibel levels under 39dB. Keep worktops clear and hide clutter away with clever storage solutions.

5. Opt for an industrial element

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Darren Chung

Modern warehouse spaces and loft apartments are ideal candidates for an open-plan kitchen. Follow the lead of existing finishes such as exposed-brick walls or vast utilitarian windows, choosing an oversized island in proportion to the space. Blocky designs and work-like materials such as stainless steel can be softened with muted colours and touches of wood to create a sensitive design that can hold its own in the space and feel inviting.

Read more: How to plan a kitchen – your step-by-step guide to the perfect space

6. Encourage a sociable lifestyle

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Adrian Briscoe

If you love to entertain, a kitchen-dining room is a practical solution, allowing you to be part of the action with your guests, not shut away in a cramped kitchen. Design your space accordingly. Here, super-sleek units conceal most of the working elements of the kitchen, providing a smart and uncluttered backdrop to a modern rustic dining area.

7. Incorporate colour

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Barbara Egan

Open-plan kitchens look super-sleek and also offer an extremely practical way to live. As the space is used for a variety of tasks, from cooking and dining to relaxing, working and entertaining, it creates an all-inclusive environment that’s perfect for today’s modern family. Accent colours are used to define individual zones and pull the scheme together.

8. Keep it sweet and simple

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Not all open-plan kitchens are huge, but even small spaces can shine. This compact kitchen benefits from a neat layout with all mod cons close to hand. Classic cabinetry painted in a dark shade is a sophisticated choice, especially when teamed with a beautiful wood floor. The parquet running throughout gives this room the air of a Parisian apartment, and shows that small can indeed be beautiful.

9. Blow the budget

Open-plan kitchen

An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth.

10. Break down walls

Open-plan kitchen

Image credit: David Giles

Knocking down walls to produce one larger, open-plan area is an ideal way to transform a cramped, dark room. Just think of all the extra light and space you could potentially gain. Use glass screens or sliding doors to separate the cooking area from the living space and consider bar stools for a relaxed eating area. As with any structural changes to your home, always contact your local planning office. Find information on the government planning site.

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11. Create curves

Curved-cabinetry-open-plan-kitchen

Image credit: Darren Chung

An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth.

Will you be giving your open-plan kitchen a makeover using these design tips?

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