Open plan, Is bigger always better ?
This week I'm looking at how we spend our time at home. I was curious to know if having one large kitchen/diner/family room works better for modern day living compared to having them all separate. I think the reason this topic is playing on my mind is because we're in the early stages of moving house.
We will be sad to leave our home, it's in the perfect location, it's a short walk to the train station and local shops, it's next door to the girls school and all our friends are less than five minutes away. "Why would we ever want to leave".
Well it's not all been plain sailing for us, when we first moved into our house it was an empty shell, the kitchen consisted of just a sink. There was no flooring, all the walls were bare plaster and the windows were all original and not the good kind of original. The wooden window frames were rotten, and the glass was cracked, and in places missing (free air con!) and all needed to be replaced, but we didn't care we had fallen hook, line, sinker and copy of angling times in love with the place.
We couldn't wait to get started at making it our own, but boy what a massive learning experience it has turned out to be. We have had plenty of highs and lows some of which have been costly, but those aside, together we have made a sad rundown old house a very beautiful home. The house is the one we will always remember fondly, as it was the house we became a family in, and it's for that very reason we need to move. "Family's grow" we are very quickly starting to out grow this house, with the likely prospect of the mother in law living with us we definitely need to upgrade!
One thing I have come to realise about our current home layout is that an open plan kitchen, diner and family room is not for us. I do like the openness it gives the space when we have friends and family over, but when you're trying to relax and watch 'The Golden Girls' on Netflix and the washing machine decides to go into hyper drive, it's not so fun!
If like me, you're having a similar dilemma, and don't know whether to have a separate dining room and kitchen or one big kitchen / diner and a separate living room. Here are a few pros and cons to see if open plan living is for you ...
Think about all that Space
Having a big open plan kitchen, dining and living room, will give you so much more space for you and your family to really enjoy. It will allow you to come together and will give you a great social space when you're entertaining with friends. Plus, it's really handy for keeping an eye on the children whilst they play / do their homework, as you prepare dinner or just sit and relax with a cuppa (spelt W.I.N.E).
Let there be Light
Just think how lovely it would be to have one big open space that's flooded with lots of natural light from a lantern roof, sky lights and a set of bi fold doors that open up to the garden creating a beautiful indoor/outdoor space.
One of the benefits of open plan living is that it allows the whole family to spend more time together instead of being separated into different rooms in different parts of the house. Surely, a family spending more time together will create a stronger family unit?
If you're in a position to create your own open plan space, just think of the freedom you will have without the constraints of walls limiting you to what you can do. It will be one big blank canvas which you can design to your own specification, that will work best for you and your family.
Don't forget to zone !!!
So Much Noise
If you have children and want open plan living be prepared, as things can get pretty noisy - kids are not known for their softly spoken voices or indoor feet. It's not so much fun for the kids either - the washing machine, dishwasher, cooking or singing along to your favourite Madonna track whilst they are trying to watch TV or do their homework will only end in tears. (usually yours!)
Nowhere to Hide
If you want the whole of your downstairs to be open plan, you have a family or house mates, you can say goodbye to your privacy. Open plan living means exactly that - IT IS OPEN. It is open to everyone, so if you don't want to have to lock yourself in the downstairs loo or go to your bedroom every time you want some peace and quiet, open plan might not be for you.
Oh and the Mess
Now I'm not saying you are, but if you're not the tidiest of people - open plan living may not be for you.
If your other half likes to leave piles of paperwork lying around everywhere - open plan living may not be for you.
If your children like to recreate battle scenes with Lego all over the rug - open plan living may not be for you.
Open plan living requires discipline, you can't hide the mess by simply closing a door, dinner plates cannot be left till the morning and we need to ensure everything has a place and everything is in its place. When all is clean and tidy, open plan living is a thing of beauty, but when its messy its the stuff of nightmares.
No more Cooking Fish
Open plan living and cooking aren't always good bed fellows, after noise, smell is probably the next biggest problem. For me, there's nothing worse than being sat on the sofa or at the dinner table and being able to smell last nights grilled salmon or poached tripe or the kitchen bin, there really is only so much oust air freshener one can take before you start to gag.