Separate reception rooms

Open Plan

What’s next?

The way we live is constantly evolving. In previous eras we had separate rooms for different purposes – a living room, a dining room, a kitchen. More recently there has been the move towards the kitchen/ diner and even completely open plan. However, with more of us working from home (perhaps more than one of us) not to mention multi generational living, is the appeal of open plan living on the wane? Are we seeing a move back towards separate living spaces?

Separate Spaces

Image of a formal dining room with wooden dining table and chairs and dresser

The time when houses had separate rooms for different functions reflects a way of living where there was more formality. Especially the fact that families would all eat together rather than at different times. Entertaining was more formal – dinner parties rather than informal pot suppers in the kitchen. Obviously, some people still prefer to have the separate room, they like to make entertaining an “occasion” or the person cooking prefers to be on their own in the kitchen undisturbed and not worrying about the mess. The advantage of a number of separate rooms is that they can be utilised for different functions and give privacy.

Open Plan

Image of an open plan living space with living area, dining area and kitchen

Our lifestyles are constantly evolving and the advent of open plan was a switch to a more relaxed way of living and wanting to be together. It started with the kitchen/ diner – the cook didn’t want to be excluded from conversations that were taking place elsewhere or wanted to be able to keep an eye on the children. This evolved in to the concept of completely open plan – kitchen, dining and living. This is great for creating a sense of space and also connectedness.

What’s Next?

Image of sliding doors between living room and kitchen

More recently, people have started to rethink the idea of open plan and this has been accelerated by recent events. Families had started to realise that fully open plan wasn’t necessarily ideal. For example, once young children become older having them under your feet may not seem so desireable. Trying to work from home in an open plan space is undoubtedly difficult and you don’t want your home office in your bedroom.

So what are the alternatives?

  • Well you can reinstate a wall obviously. If you are considering this, or perhaps you have knocked through without removing a wall completely, sliding or folding doors give you the best of both worlds. They enable you to divide the space when privacy is needed but open it up for entertaining or family time. Pocket doors that slide in to the wall are extremely neat if you like the clean lines of open plan or have doors that fold back completely against the wall.
  • Room dividers. They don’t offer the complete privacy of the first option but using screens or furniture such as a bookcase or display unit can at least offer some delineation.
  • Divide the kitchen. A major disadvantage of the open plan scheme, especially if it includes a living area, is what to do with the necessary but unattractive stuff – the laundry, the dirty shoes etc. Having a separate utility/ laundry room is a definite plus and estate agents are reporting an increase in the popularity of the pantry. It is therefore worth sacrificing part of a kitchen to create a separate space for the functional aspects.

Summary – I think reports of the demise of open plan are premature. We are always going to want that feeling of light and space. However, I do believe that home owners are going to be more considered in their approach. We perhaps shouldn’t be quite so quick to reach for the sledge hammer but do take time to consider carefully how you are going to live in the space and what is going to best suit your needs. It’s always a good idea to try living in a property for at least six months before doing anything drastic.

If you have any interiors dilemmas then call me on 07745 876182 or e mail and I’ll be happy to have an initial chat.