​The open-plan kitchen: How to make it work | homify

​The open-plan kitchen: How to make it work

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Orford | A Classic Country Kitchen With coastal Inspiration Classic style kitchen by Davonport Classic
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Open-plan layouts have become quite the trend, and it’s not only because they are super functional (think about how easily they combine different spaces, ensuring more legroom to squeeze in more furnishings, more décor, and more guests!) – they also go a long way in making once-small areas appear larger and more welcoming. 

Open-plan living has become part and parcel of the 21st century. Think about all the various ones you’ve seen, both in real life and in design magazines / websites: a home office seamlessly connected to the living room; a bedroom sharing its open space with a bathroom; and, perhaps the most popular one of all, open-plan kitchens beautifully blending in with an adjoining dining room or living room, or both! 

But like all things in life, proper planning is crucial if you want the end result to work, and an open-plan kitchen is no exception (why else do you think professional kitchen planners are so busy?). So, before you start swinging a sledgehammer to demolish a wall or two, first see some of our open-plan kitchen ideas…

1. An open-plan kitchen: Making it a dining space

Flairlight Project 1 Oxshott, Tudor House Modern kitchen by Flairlight Designs Ltd Modern
Flairlight Designs Ltd

Flairlight Project 1 Oxshott, Tudor House

Flairlight Designs Ltd

First of all, think about how you can benefit from an open-plan kitchen. After all, just because so many households across the world have one doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. 

If you’re tired of preparing meals by your lonesome self in the kitchen while the rest of the family are socialising in the adjoining room, then put food prepping at the heart of your new open-plan kitchen by incorporating a dining space setup. 

Practical tasks can become easier too – a dining table placed closer to the kitchen means shorter carrying distance for plates and food, perfect if you have small kids at home.

2. An open-plan kitchen: Merging with the living room

High Peak. Stunning views of the High Peak countryside from this family room extension Modern kitchen by John Gauld Photography Modern
John Gauld Photography

High Peak. Stunning views of the High Peak countryside from this family room extension

John Gauld Photography

The social factor also comes into play with your culinary space layout, particularly if your open-plan kitchen shares its space with living room. For example, one of the kids could be watching TV in the lounge while another is doing homework at the kitchen island, putting you (who’s busy in the kitchen) in close contact with both. 

homify hint: Fed up with a gloomy kitchen? An open-plan layout also means fewer walls and doorways, spreading the light from the adjoining room about, making your space seem larger and brighter.

3. The open-plan kitchen: Plan your layout

As a kitchen is a working zone, you don’t want the extra dining/living space to meddle in with your cooking and baking activities.

Think about where guests will be seated while you busy yourself with food prepping – will there be space for a breakfast bar, keeping family and friends close yet still out of your way? Will you move your living room’s chairs and sofas to ensure an easy flow of conversation between seating- and cooking spaces?

4. Keeping it practical

Jess & Hugo's Shepherd's Bush Renovation Classic style kitchen by Model Projects Ltd Classic
Model Projects Ltd

Jess & Hugo's Shepherd's Bush Renovation

Model Projects Ltd

Large rooms require just as much care and planning as smaller spaces. Keep your work triangle in the kitchen in mind when planning your new open-plan layout (the relationship between the stove, fridge and sink needs to be triangular for easy movement, plus close together to cut down on footwork). Will you need to bring in a kitchen island to shorten the distance where necessary?

5. Lighting your open-plan kitchen

Quebec Way, Haggerston Modern kitchen by Rousseau Modern

Quebec Way, Haggerston


Sometimes tearing down a wall is not enough to enhance a room’s brightness factor. If your open-plan layout is still too gloomy, consider bringing in French- or bi-fold doors to steal some of the garden’s natural lighting. And if your new layout successfully includes the terrace/patio as part of the open layout, then more power to you! 

Installing a sky light in the kitchen / directly above the dining table can also ensure more natural lighting. 

For artificial lighting, subtle under-cabinet strips can make that open-plan kitchen bright and welcoming. For the rest of the room, simple ceiling lighting, as well as a table/floor lamp or wall sconces, should be adequate.

6. Choosing your open-plan kitchen’s colours

Handle less Polar white Glamour Modern kitchen by PTC Kitchens Modern
PTC Kitchens

Handle less Polar white Glamour

PTC Kitchens

Your kitchen doesn’t have to match up 100% with the adjoining space’s look. You can still enjoy a super modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, situated only a few feet away from your country-style living room, for example. However, you need to include accent colours in both areas to pull the individual zones together (like using a similar hue in your kitchen island and dining chairs, or hues that complement your kitchen’s backsplash and living room’s sofa cushions, etc.).

7. Separating the spaces

Orford | A classic country kitchen with coastal inspiration Classic style kitchen by Davonport Classic Wood Wood effect

Orford | A classic country kitchen with coastal inspiration


Although the idea of an open-plan layout is to merge different rooms, you don’t want to be confused about which zone ends where. As there’s no wall to distinguish the start of the kitchen, it’s up to other, more subtle ways to separate the different areas. 

How about changing the flooring, choosing hardwearing (and easy-to-clean) tiles for the kitchen, which flow elegantly into the lounge’s wooden floor? Alternatively, opt for the same flooring throughout, then add definition with different rugs. 

Other ways include varying the ceiling- and floor height between the different zones, or placing a furniture/décor piece like an open bookcase in-between the spaces.

8. Remember storage

Bespoke Minimalist Kitchen By Luxmoore & Co Minimalist kitchen by Luxmoore & Co Minimalist
Luxmoore & Co

Bespoke Minimalist Kitchen By Luxmoore & Co

Luxmoore & Co

Remember that the tiniest of kitchen clutter will now be perceived from the dining/living room in your new open-plan space. You may be including a new island in your layout, but is it enough?

A tall pull-out unit is another popular method for storage, as it makes efficient use of horizontal space and is easily accessible. Or how about a larder/pantry with plenty of space for groceries, tableware and condiments? Additional drawers can also be inserted, easily hidden behind a single cupboard door for a more streamlined look.

9. Keeping scents at bay

Part of the charm of an open-plan kitchen is enjoying delicious scents wafting towards the adjoining spaces, yet not all kitchen smells want to be shared. We recommend investing in a decent extractor fan. And should your kitchen have windows, by all means open up!

Noise levels also need to be considered if you plan on cooking, dining and entertaining in the same space, so opt for an extractor fan that won’t have anyone shouting to be heard.

10. What about heating?

Porthleven Eclectic style kitchen by LEIVARS Eclectic



Don’t overlook the effect that heating one big room can have on those bills. Underfloor heating is definitely worth considering – decide between a ‘wet’ system, which connects to the gas supply, or an electric system. And consider removing radiators to free up wall space and create a clean, seamless look.

The disadvantages of having an open-plan kitchen

Fascination kitchen by Mowlem & Co by Mowlem&Co Scandinavian

Fascination kitchen by Mowlem & Co


Sadly, not all open-plan kitchen ideas can be entertained because:

• it is much harder to hide the mess in an open-plan kitchen (unless, of course, you have a out-of-sight scullery)

• unwanted noise can be an issue when there's one social group in the adjoining living room, and another in the kitchen

• transforming your current kitchen into an open layout will cost money, time, effort, and planning—a lot

• it might clash with your house's architecture, as not all design styles are conducive to the more modern open-plan layout

• although some scents are quite enticing, you don’t want to experience every single smell drifting from the kitchen’s side while minding your own business in the adjoining room. 

Speaking of stylish cooking spaces, we’ve got these 11 nifty tricks to make your kitchen look more expensive.  

Planning on merging your kitchen with another room? 
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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