Eight Tips and Ideas for Your Open Plan Kitchen


Everyone knows that the kitchen is the heart of the home, where the whole family comes together to dine, unwind and enjoy each other’s company. The benefit of an open plan kitchen is the way in which it creates a uniquely social and family-friendly space.

Traditionally, activities like cooking, dining and socialising took place in separate spaces. Today, everything the family loves doing most can be done collectively in a unified open plan environment.

Increasingly, the widespread appeal of open-plan layouts is making significant contributions to property value. In many cases, adding value over and above the costs of performing the necessary renovations.

But even if you have made the decision to go open plan, you need to think carefully about how the space will be decorated and arranged. When choosing a layout where your living and kitchen space come together, careful thought must be given to how items such as kitchen cabinets and soft furnishings come together, how you wish to separate relaxed spaces from those used for cooking and how your family likes to live.

An open-plan kitchen can be anything you want it to be, but there are some design considerations that should be prioritised.

With this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of 8 design ideas for an open-plan kitchen, with options to suit smaller and larger homes alike:

Consider Installing a Large Central Island

The beauty of a large central island lies in its multipurpose versatility.  A kitchen island brings practicality to the kitchen, combining a robust worktop with cleverly concealed storage solutions. Opting for a units with a curved finish can help you to create a sense of flow between spaces.

There may also be the option of integrating recycling containers, electronic appliances or even a sink into your island.

When entertaining guests or spending time with family, a large central kitchen island becomes the social hub of the entire space. It’s where you gather to chat, prepare and sip cocktails, or perhaps perch on bar stools for the duration. As the central feature of your open-plan space, your island can be as large and imposing as you want it to be.

Maximise Natural Light

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Leveraging all natural light at your disposal can enhance the look and feel of your open-plan kitchen. Ideally you want to ensure that there is light which flows into all areas including both your dining and lounge area.  This is where getting creative with window coverings can help, ensuring as much natural light drenches your interiors as possible. The strategic distribution of mirrors and shiny/glossy surfaces can also help bounce natural light around the space.

If you have a kitchen space which doesn’t benefit from a great deal of natural light, opting for high gloss kitchen cabinets in a lighter colour can help to reflect the light you do have – making the space appear brighter and larger.

An open plan kitchen can be particularly appealing when positioned in close proximity to floor-to-ceiling windows, or full-height sliding patio doors. Where natural light is in short supply, select light fittings and fixtures that replicate natural light as faithfully as possible.

An increasingly popular trend for open plan spaces which include a single storey extension is the addition of skylights towards the back of the kitchen which can bring a flood of natural light to the space.

Ensure the Transition is Seamless

Creating a seamless flow means ensuring it doesn’t appear as if you’ve simply removed a wall from your home and left it at that. Eliminating as many visual breaks as possible amplifies the sense of spaciousness and openness, which is what open plan living is all about.

One way to achieve this is to use the same flooring throughout each of the zones, calling for careful consideration when considering the type of floor covering to use. Using the same basic colour palette throughout the connecting zones can also help build a unified effect. Bring the whole thing together by adding a pop of colour with your kitchen cabinets, or keep the whole thing as neural and understated as you like.

Focus on Functionality

Planning a kitchen extension

It’s important to remember that the kitchen is primarily a space for productivity, and therefore calls for focus on functionality. Be mindful of the ‘working triangle’ when deciding on a layout for your kitchen and its main features.

The working triangle comprises the sink, the fridge and the cooker – your goal is to shorten the distances between these fixtures where possible. For example, positioning the fridge in the opposite corner of your kitchen to the cooker could quickly prove inconvenient. Try to ensure that when you are using your kitchen for practical purposes, everything you need is within easy reach.

Choose Furniture Carefully

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When selecting furniture for an open plan kitchen, you need to choose items that complement the kitchen and the adjoining space. The leather sofa you have your eye on could be just the thing for your living room, but placed right next to the kitchen could look entirely out of place.

Again, open plan design is all about creating a sense of unity and ensuring a seamless transition between the two spaces. Everything should compliment everything else in such a way that the whole thing comes together as one perfectly presented space.

Use Multiple Lighting Sources

Effectively eliminating an open plan space with just one or two ultra-bright central lighting fixtures is impossible. The temptation is often to simply add more overhead lights, but this can result in a sterile and ‘corporate’ feel. The larger the space, the bigger the benefits of getting creative with lighting sources.

Consider combining flush mount ceiling lights, wall lights, pendant lights and LED task lights with occasional lighting like table lamps and floor lamps. Try to look at lighting in terms of layers and depth, rather than simply aiming to illuminate the space as a whole.

Soften the Space with Textiles

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The raw functionality of a kitchen can sometimes clash with the relaxing ambience of an adjoining living space. When looking to unify the two spaces, it’s better to focus on softening the ‘hard edges’ of the kitchen, rather than hardening the living room.

One simple yet effective way to achieve this is to bring textiles into your kitchen. For example, a large floor rug can be just the thing to soften a hard kitchen floor, just as adding cushions to chairs or bar stools can create a more inviting look.

Be Mindful of Distractions and Intrusions

Last up, open plan living may be about unity and seamlessness, but clear lines of separation are needed in some instances. For example, an extractor hood that sounds like a 747 taking off or a washing machine that rattles the picture frames off your walls won’t help anyone relax in the adjoining space. Nor will a lack of efficient extraction or ventilation, permeating everything in your living room with unwanted smells.

This is again where focusing on functionality and practicality is essential. An open-plan kitchen can be fantastic, but is not without its challenges where ‘containment’ is concerned. All of which must be factored into your design considerations, and the choices you make when picking up and installing appliances.

Open Plan Kitchen FAQs:

Is An Open Plan Kitchen a Good Idea?

In the vast majority of homes, the answer is yes – an open-plan kitchen can be a great design idea.  This is primarily due to the fact that open-plan layouts enable you to make far more efficient use of the space you have available. With an open-plan kitchen, you also get to spend more time with your friends and family than with a separate kitchen.

Is It Expensive to Set Up An Open Plan Kitchen?

Installation and setup costs vary in accordance with the current layout and structural specifics of the property in question. However, removing interior walls to create an open-plan space will always be much cheaper than a traditional home extension.

Do Open Plan Kitchens Contribute To Property Values?

Depending on the size, type and location of the property, an open plan kitchen can add anything from 10% to 20% to its market value. An open plan kitchen can therefore be a hugely cost-effective long-term investment in your home’s value and appeal.

Does An Open Plan Kitchen Need Planning Permission?

The contractor you hire to conduct the adjustments to your property will help you determine whether or not planning permission is necessary. Always consult with your local planning office before conducting any major renovations, or you could find yourself facing heavy fines for breaching building regulations.


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