Open Plan living- Renovation and extension

  • Open Plan Living When Renovating and Extending

Open plan living is what everyone is raving about and you might be wondering why. This article explains all the pros of open plan living when you’re renovating or extending. Going open is a design trend that’s not going away soon. In fact, across Ireland and the UK, most period homes are characterised by clusters of small rooms with excessive walls creating unnecessary barricade between members of the family. The floor plan is often disjointed and lacks a sense of connection. Those small rooms can feel cramped and outdated. This is simply not trendy and conducive for modern-day living.

An open-plan renovation or extension is an interesting and contemporary solution to the apparent lack of connection associated with the designs of period homes. Time to give your home a breather? An open-plan renovation or extension can free up more living space and give your home a brand new look and feel. Opt for kitchens that are open and accessible to the living areas, and living rooms that are connected to the back and front yard like indoor/outdoor rooms. With open plan living, you can feel the presence of family even when each member is in their own zones. What’s more? If you ask any real estate agent, they will tell you that between two houses in a Dublin street, one with a 1960s-style warren of tiny rooms and another with a modern open-plan configuration, the house with the open-plan layout would cost more in the real estate market. So, going open can not only increase the quality of your living but also open the chequebooks too.

Common Reasons Why Homeowners Go For Open-Plan Configurations

There are a plethora of reasons why one may decide to go the route of open plan living. For most homeowners, it’s about personal tastes and needs. Some of these reasons may be:

  • Inadequate free, large and airy living space
  • Lack of family presence and connection
  • Lack of natural light coming into the home
  • Poor views into the gardens and surroundings
  • The thrill of trying to experience something different

Obviously, all the above preferences are things a well-thought-out open plan design can guarantee you. Having said that, an open plan renovation is not your only option to free up more space, allow natural light or enjoy the best views of your environment. A loft conversion or garden extension can both give you that. Hence, you should seek the advice of a good architect at this early stages to help you rethink the way you have been using your existing rooms and spaces. Also, if you’ve just bought your present home, you should give yourself enough time to come to a decision about what works for you and what does not. That way, you can be able to clearly articulate your ideas and needs that you need the architect to accommodate when they draw up the design of an open plan configuration for your home.

Will An Open Plan Configuration Work For Your Home?

Almost every house can be remodelled to accommodate fewer walls within and spot a modern look. Let us briefly run through some candidate houses and check their viability:

  • Period Homes: houses from the mid-century eras are primed candidates. They were primarily built for purposes other than 21st century living. Owners of such houses are most likely to order for an open plan renovation not just to modernize the property, but also to increase its value in the housing market.
  • Cottages: Talk about going against the tide here. Cottages are supposed to be small, enclosed and cosy areas by definition. Breaking down the walls to attain an open space would be going against character. But it is very possible and doable.
  • Industrial Layouts and Barns: Such structures already have most of the crucial things in place so they lend themselves better to an open plan renovation.
  • Victorian and Terraced Houses: although not all, many Victorian and terraced houses can be converted to open plan living if the interior designs are not very complicated.
  • Other House Types: many other types of homes are suitable for an open- plan renovation or extension. It’s just about striking a balance between the traditional character of the building and your preferences about how you want to live.

Should You DIY and Start Knocking Down Walls?

If you’re considering diving in with a sledgehammer right away, we employ you to hold on a second and listen to some important advice: Always consult with an Architect and structural engineer about the best layout plan and the best advice to start your project.

First, you need to be sure about the structural implications of what you’re about to do. (If you find that sentence confusing, that’s because an open plan renovation is not exactly a DIY project that you embark upon.) In other words, not all the walls within your home are there primarily as demarcations. Some are structurally important because they support the roof, floor and other fundamental structures. Worse still, it’s not always obvious whether a wall serves a structural function or not. Only a professional can tell you for sure. Hence contact your structural engineer or architect for advice.

 Open Plan Configurations You May Want To Consider

When it comes to open-plan layouts, a lot has to do with the type of house in question and preferences regarding how you want to live. Having said that, one of the most popular options is to have spaces – like the kitchen – where natural light would be less desired in the middle. Other spaces like the living room and the dining room, which you’d want to be naturally lit, can occupy the front and back respectively. This is one of the most common options for Irish homeowners.

Also, there are some activities that you may want to hide away from the relaxation or entertainment areas. Something like a utility room can come in handy to tuck away noisy appliances like a washing machine. Anterooms would be suitable space for laundry, pet’s pen, muddy shoes, etc. Your architect can help you identify existing rooms or spaces that can be converted to serve the above purposes.

Open Floor Plans Combinations

Going open doesn’t mean rooms are independent of each other or there are no zones. There are visual barriers in-between the spaces in reality. Open plan living only works with common areas. Bathrooms, bedrooms and your home office would still exist as traditional and secluded spaces as you normally know them. Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, and Kitchens are the zones that normally get shuffled around depending on your preferences.

  • Kitchen and Dining Rooms Together: it’s very common for both these rooms to share a single space. Besides, you don’t want to travel with a hot pot every time you want to serve dinner. Of course, there are options available to you to visually divide the two zones.
  • Living and Dining Rooms Together: the living and dining room can also exist in the same space. You can station the dinner table to be closer to the kitchen so there is less travel distance. You can visually decorate each zone to create a feeling of what each person is supposed to do when they are in a zone.
  • Kitchen, Dining and Living Rooms Together: Another option is to have all 3 rooms occupy the same large space. Line, uneven floor heights, and vaulted ceilings are some of the options available to visually separate each zone.

How To Zone An Open Plan Space

Open plan living can have the real possibility of being a mess visually and mentally. With no walls, it can be a real challenge knowing where the line is drawn between one area and the other. Is the dining table in the kitchen? Or is it in the dining room simply because you eat on that table? A perfectly designed and decorated open-plan space is a sight to behold. But before you can achieve such a level of modernity for your home, it’s important to strike the right cord between flow and division.

Here are several options to help you achieve just that:

  • Make Smart Layout Decisions: your furniture arrangement is one of the most important things you have to get right. You can set the overall tone of the living space if you begin with a smart layout.
  • Use the biggest furniture such as an L-shaped sofa, dining tables and armchairs as anchors for each zone. The position of each piece of furniture can then help you direct the flow from one zone to the other.
  • Use Lighting To Your Advantage: the kitchen and dining room is one of the tricky areas people find challenging to differentiate. Spotlights are practical lighting options for kitchens. Hence, look to change the mood by donning a signature pendant light above the dining table area to create a clear difference.
  • Make Use Of Available Flooring Options: one of the most simple and elegant ways to differentiate zones is by using different flooring options. You can simply separate the kitchen-dining room combo from the living room by slightly elevating one floor above the other.

Then, you can zone out the Kitchen area from the dining by going from kitchen tiles to wooden options as you flow between the two zones. For the living area, think of floor coverings or finishing as options to separate the lounge and other areas from it. Try a large carpet here too and see how it help inhabitants think and treats each zone appropriately.

10 Major Pros Of Open Plan Layouts

There are many reasons why more and more families turn to open plan living. We have highlighted some of the absolute top picks.

  1. A Better Sociable Space is Created

Open plan living creates a more sociable space and enough family time than you can ever imagine is possible. You can very easily watch the kid do their homework, watch TV, or play while you’re busy preparing something in the kitchen or chilling in the living room. The members of the family can each be busy with their interests while still present and available to socialise too. You can have guests in your home and not lose a single opportunity to catch up simply because you have to make dinner in the kitchen.

  1. Open Plan Living Utilizes Every Ounce of Space in The Home

All of a sudden, your small, cramped abode feels incredibly spacious when you go open plan living. Having several traditional small rooms eat up little pockets of space that you’d never be able to utilize? With an open plan layout, from the front door right to the back of your house can be made liveable. You may not have to move to a bigger house. You just need to effectively make do with every inch of space available to you already.

  1. More natural light and Air

With a lot of small rooms, you will have to turn to artificial light for illumination. But with one massive huge space, you can allow more natural light into your home from front and back. Instead of spotting tiny windows, one or two large windows creates a lovely bright space for you. Also, you get a proper and natural ventilation system freshening every corner of your living space.

  1. Easier To Clean and Maintain

A typical open plan living allows less clutters and small corners so it makes the space easier to clean. Also, since there are not many partitions, it makes the cleaning process much faster.

  1. Cooking Aroma Can Linger

If you’re a prolific cook, an open plan living ensures that you have a pleasant and ever-changing natural fragrance adorning your home every time you make a delicious meal. For delicacies with not so soothing smell, an extractor fan is enough to get rid of the smell. Also, your architect can design your cooking station so that strong smells from your cooking don’t trickle into the living spaces.

  1. You Can Keep An Eye On The Kids

No matter what you’re up to, you’d always want to have your eyes on what the kids are doing. Unless they are in the bedroom sleeping, an open plan living creates the opportunity to watch your kids engaged in virtually every other activities. You won’t have to lose some time or concentration by going over to see what the kids are up to every hour. Simply remain engaged in your preferred zone and monitor the kids enjoy their activities from afar.

  1. Simple and Effective Furniture Arrangements

A big space housing the kitchen, living, and dining rooms combo affords you greater freedom in selecting and arranging the furniture. If you opt for a minimalistic design, the right choices can make space appear larger and neater.

  1. It Looks and Feels Great

We all like to experience something different and trendy, especially if it does come with real benefits. If you have the knack of a creative, there’s so much you can do to have the wow factor in your home. A well-thought-out design, layout, and interior decor can be visually stunning. Also, you have unimaginable opportunities to change things around to spot a new look. At its core, an open plan layout is just a big open space that is a perfect canvas for the artsy you.

  1. Extending and Integrated Views

An open-plan space is only limited by your vision. If you see the plan extending into your gardens, so be it. With the right architect and interior designer, you can extend the living space to the garden with the right flow and direction. Perhaps, this is the perfect zone to station outdoor activities like board games and other entertainment. Since there are no walls to restrict your view, you can see all the corners of your home in their full splendour and majesty.

  1. Increases The Value Of The Property

Modernity comes at a higher price. Open plan living is one of the most sought-after layouts for family or residential homes. They sell for more money than other houses with several little rooms. Should you renovate your home to an open plan configuration, it would be a smart investment that will fetch you more money should you decide to sell in the future.

Be Money Smart AND You’ll be HAPPY

If you decide to undertake such a drastic project in your home, you must be money smart. In essence, look at the big picture and see it as an incredible financial investment. Always consult with an Architect and structural engineer about the best layout plan and the best advice to start your project. When you work with the right experts and achieve not just a visually stunning design but also a structurally faultless one, that’s how you can enjoy the full return on your investment. When you see the quality of your living and the value of your property increase, then, you’ll be HAPPY.

If you are thinking of creating an Open Plan solution for your property get in touch with JEArchiteture. We are a design-led architecture studio specialising in the domestic market. We are based in north Dublin and we cover all of the greater Dublin Area and we would be more than happy to help .