Open plan living has long been a staple of any interior. And no wonder – it brings several advantages: not only are small homes made to seem bigger, brighter and more airy, but it can have practical advantages too! If you’re thinking about knocking down a wall or two and making two rooms into one, read our tips on how to go about it.
Open plan kitchen diners are a great way of harmonising & energising the downstairs living space, particularly within period homes. Way back when, it was normal for homes to have a small kitchen and a separate dining room – however this is totally unsuitable to the demands of modern life.
Anyone who cooks and doesn’t want to be isolated from the rest of the family or chatting with visitors will benefit from an open plan living space. By connecting and placing the furniture correctly, you can easily make room for a proper dining table for 6 or more people, without sacrificing kitchen space.
If the kitchen is west-facing and the living or dining room is south-facing, connecting them will give you a space where the sun shines all day long. In the case of a north-south orientation, the sun’s rays will reach places where they couldn’t reach all day before. We love skylights and double doors, too, especially if you’ve added an extension onto the back of the home. Light is key to open plan living!
The disadvantages of a connected space
Linking also has some disadvantages, but these can be easily mitigated or eliminated altogether. One of them is the spread of smells! When cooking, you have to take into account that the food will smell even in front of the TV, and that may not always be desirable. The solution is a proper induction hood with air extraction to the outside. But beware of the circulation ones. While they prevent the spread of vapours and grease, which they trap in the filter, they can’t always remove odours (the same air is still circulating through the filter and therefore the room).
Another problem is acoustics. If someone is talking at a table while someone else is watching TV, the two sounds can interfere. As a result, the conversationalists’ voices increase while the volume of the TV increases. This also applies to the noise level of installed kitchen appliances. Unpleasant noise propagation can be partially mitigated by the use of textile elements (carpet, curtains, wall tapestries, sofa, etc.)
How can the rooms be connected?
- by removing the entire wall
- by breaking through or widening missing doors
- by connecting the two spaces with a large window or folding doors
In the vast majority of cases you will need the help of a structural engineer and it may also be the case (if the wall is load-bearing) that you need permission from the building authority. If you own the home, and you’re knocking through a simple wall that isn’t integral to the structure of the building, it should be relatively simple. If you’re renting, or you live in a block of flats, read on for more technical tips!
What else to look out for – apartment living
The water, sewerage and gas pipes in apartment blocks are usually routed in a shaft that runs through all the floors above in the same place, so its position cannot be changed. In addition, the bathroom, toilet and kitchen are placed in close proximity to the shaft. The piping is graded at a minimum of 3% and can be a maximum of 3 metres long. If you go too far with the sink, for example, you have to run the waste in the floor and with the gradient you will not fit into the overall thickness of the floor composition. The water distribution to the appliances is not a problem. The water is under pressure in the pipe and so the gradient does not need to be addressed in any major way. But be careful with the gas distribution. If you are getting a new boiler, the pipe leading to it must not be cut into the wall. If there is a leak, gas could build up in a pocket in the structure without anyone knowing. In an extreme case, an explosion could occur. But you can hide the pipes in the ceiling. This must be properly ventilated (by a gap around its perimeter or by ventilation grilles).
Last but not least, it must also be taken into account that knocking out a hole or an entire wall will also connect two floors. In particular, you must check their relative heights. You also need to consider whether you will just add the flooring in question (e.g. together with the new floor covering in the kitchen area) or prefer the same flooring throughout the new space. The latter option will visually unify the space more. However, it always depends on the specific layout situation.
A final tip: You can also make the space visually larger and airier by using light colours, light and simple pieces of furniture or shiny and translucent surfaces and materials!