Open concept floor plans, a contemporary architectural feature that connects the main areas through a lack of partitions and walks, is considerably popular among designers and many homeowners alike. When looking for examples of this concept in practice, we can see enormous kitchen-dining areas, contemporary stairs, and incredible mezzanine loft spaces in high-end Hollywood homes, so we intuitively may find ourselves thinking that open-plan spaces are highly desirable. However, some might reasonably worry that it will not be easy to live in open-plan spaces because we would not be able to get away from our families, the scent of cooking would linger throughout the premises. Additionally, anyone who is familiar with UK construction codes may be concerned that a terrible compromise would be made.
Although being able to see what is going on in the room across from you can be quite helpful for families, not everyone should choose an open floor plan. One must carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of open floor plans before settling on such a layout for your house, and in this article, we take a comprehensive look at what makes this architectural design choice an optimal one or something that will not work well for your overall home composition.
How to Get Open Floor Planning Right?
So what factors determine whether an open-plan environment is successful or not?
Success, according to the experts, depends on knowing which important aspects of the home can coexist peacefully and which require “physical, visual, aural, or olfactory separation”. In other words, establishing areas that allow for the separation of incompatible activities is essential to developing a high-quality open-plan living environment. And in order to separate and break up the open space, there are multiple techniques and ideas one can incorporate into their open plan design.
Bifold and Sliding Doors
The greatest open plan designs provide ways to partition off areas as needed. Sliding doors are an excellent illustration of how open plan layouts can be maintained with flexible, or even better, pocket doors that slide into wall cavities when not in use. Another choice is bifold doors, albeit they require a little more room than slide-away models. Glazed walls and doors are also a terrific option since they keep zones separate while enabling light to flow through the plan.
Designating Zoned Spaces
Using room dividers is essential for dividing open-plan areas and preventing the void, frigid feeling that some huge spaces have. One of the most popular techniques is utilized in kitchen diners, where breakfast bars or island units are employed to keep the two areas separate as well as provide a convenient extra room for storing, eating, and working.
Another strategy for maintaining a sense of flow while establishing zones is to build partial walls. You can plan a construction of stud walls in any height or width you like around the open space, possibly spanning half a room at half the wall height.
Varying Floor and Ceiling Levels
The best technique to guarantee that open plan spaces can be divided into zones is to use a split-level arrangement. For example, living areas that are accessible by two or three steps from the kitchen dining easily stand out as a resting area without being fully closed off.
An excellent way to create a more intimate atmosphere is to use different ceiling heights, possibly using a slightly lower ceiling height in the dining area compared to the kitchen. Beams can be used to signal a change in use from one region to another. As steel beams are typically needed as a means of support, this is a particularly practical approach for renovators opening up a lot of small rooms to one another.
Visual Separation Though Interior Design Choices
In an open-plan area, simply using contrasting wall colors will create interest and break up any bleak wall stretches. Painting the kitchen of a kitchen diner a light, cheery color while adopting a cozier, more convivial tone for the dining area, for example, instantly distinguishes the spaces from one another.
Flooring should also be taken into account. In a wide open space, using tiles in the kitchen, wood in the dining room, and possibly carpet in the living area will visually and functionally separate the spaces. If not, employing carpets or even picking different tones of the same material to visually delineate the sections can be a viable substitute.
Also take into account how the design and geometry of a room might add definition. For example, L-shaped rooms are ideal since the eating area is tucked away from the kitchen. The two spaces are now joined, but a leisurely meal won’t be ruined by the sight of unclean pots and pans.
Considerations Stemming from Open Floor Plans
Although there are benefits of joining your living space together to promote some unity and accessibility to your home, much like with every concept we have in design and architecture, there are cons to this idea in some cases. In order to assess whether open floor plan design will work for you, here are some most prevalent and major consideration is regards to this creative solution:
Lack of Privacy
An open floor layout can make it more challenging to get some alone time than a closed one. For instance, it could be difficult to unwind in the kitchen if someone is watching TV in the adjacent living space.
This consideration is the primary reason why most people settle for a broken plan instead of a full-on open floor counterpart. Broken plan living, which is sometimes referred to as semi-open plan, acknowledges the value of having a few quiet zones, teenage quarters, home offices, and adult living rooms to allow for some privacy in a space where there otherwise isn’t any to be found.
Little Wall Space
You lose out on a lot of wall space when several rooms are consolidated into one huge area for hanging photos and artwork. When so many interior design styles and decisions call for picking an accent wall, playing with wall color palettes and lighting, it may be difficult to find viable solutions to curb this issue and manage to make the open floor plan space cozy and well-decorated without looking for expensive, uncommon solutions.
Furthermore, your favorite items may become faded and suffer other damages from too much direct sunshine due to the lack of obstacles to break the direct sunlight exposure effects.
Higher Need for Upkeep Efforts
For some homeowners, maintaining a spotless great room may be too much. For instance, visitors will see when you have unclean dishes and when the kids have not put their toys away. If one or more of these rooms is disorderly, the entire region, when seen as one vast space, may appear disorganized, and so implementing an open floor plan may open up a Pandora’s box of endless chores you need to keep having done in order to maintain a presentable look of your living space at all times.
Legalization and Fire Safety Issues
Nevertheless, comfort and cleanliness concerns pale in comparison to practical considerations that arise from implementing an open floor plan around an existing home or a house under construction. You would typically need permission from a Building Control provider, such as your Local Authority, when changing the layout of a UK building. Many open-plan designs can be approved as-is, but if any habitable rooms are located above the first floor of your property, fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, must be discussed.
The standards permit some combinations of rooms; for instance, a living space can include a bedroom, while kitchens and dining rooms are entirely acceptable on their own. But incorporating staircases and hallways into living spaces is another story. You normally need a fire suppression system if any room above the first floor has its only exit through another living space.
If you have a two-story home, for instance, with an open staircase in the ground level living space, you will need to install a sprinkler system downstairs if you want to convert the loft and add a bedroom. Similar to this, you will end up with bedrooms that open onto a living area if your second-floor flat is dark and you want to recover wasted hallway space. You could be compelled to install a fire suppression system throughout this situation. Some combinations of such systems, however, can be challenging to approve.