[homescapes]Four open-plan kitchen living rooms that will create a wow factor in your home

2021-08-21

  The experience of the average family in lockdown might have heightened the importance of separate spaces, but the open-plan family room is still a key element of the way we live now. Architect Karen Stonely (span-ny.com) believes its popularity reflects a gradual change in domestic habits that is here to stay: ‘In an era that supports the blurring of boundaries between relaxation, work and socialising, we prepare food, do homework, pay bills, have parties, watch the news and work quite naturally in the same space. Covid has accentuated this trend, but it was in the making years before.’

  Architect Steve Clinch (echlinlondon.com) recommends you have a separate sitting room, snug or office you can retreat to before knocking down all the ground-floor walls. Another option is to go ‘broken-plan’, with folding or sliding internal doors that can be used to separate rooms when required, offering extra flexibility.

  The possibilities for laying out a family room will depend on the style and proportions of the property; here are four examples, in various shapes and sizes.

  The 24/7 family den

  Rosie and Dave Turcan created this L-shaped space for them and their three sons, Milo, 12, Charlie, nine, and Oscar, six, when they renovated their Edwardian house in south-west London last year. The layout had previously comprised a small, dark kitchen and a separate dining room, which they combined by knocking through the walls and extending out on the dining-room side by about 1.5 metres.

  The wide sliding doors provide an easy flow out to the garden from the dining and sitting area. ‘We didn’t go for bifold doors as we wanted the maximum amount of glass and minimum amount of frame, to let in as much light as possible, as it’s a north-east-facing room,’ says Rosie.?

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  The sliding doors mean easy access into the garden, which is always useful for the children

  The sliding doors mean easy access into the garden, which is always useful for the children

  Credit: Megan Taylor

  The original floorboards were hand-sanded and stained to give them an aged look, while the bar stools are from Rockett St George

  The original floorboards were hand-sanded and stained to give them an aged look, while the bar stools are from Rockett St George

  Credit: Megan Taylor

  The room is painted in Threadneedle by Mylands and the shell chair is from Graham and Green

  The room is painted in Threadneedle by Mylands and the shell chair is from Graham and Green

  Credit: Megan Taylor

  They hand-sanded and stained the original floorboards to give them an aged look, which can take the marks and scuffs of family life, and installed underfloor heating beneath (the most effective way of heating an open-plan room). They also made a design feature of the steel ceiling support needed when they created the space, by using similar supports to make bespoke shelving on the back wall, which includes a run of low-level cabinets to hide family clutter.

  The lighting scheme helps to zone the room into three distinct areas – a cosy sitting/reading space, a sunny dining area and the kitchen to the side – while the internal window allows light to filter through from the front of the house, as well as adding to the industrial-chic look.

  Made Atkin and Thyme Get the look Bloomingville

  Get the look: Henna seagrass shade, £35, Made; cozy dining table, £1,195, Bloomingville; calvin armchair, £479, Atkin and Thyme?

  The bright hangout

  ‘The client wanted a warm, slightly opulent room, with a nod to the 1930s, when the house was built,’ says interior designer Nicola Burt of this colourful project.

  The house had a kitchen and separate dining room side by side at the back, which Burt knocked through to create one room, replacing the two sets of doors leading out to the garden with one wall of Crittall-style bifold doors. She designed the scheme around pieces of furniture that the client already owned and wanted to keep.

  The sideboard in the dining area is painted to match the kitchen, bringing the scheme together

  The full-height kitchen cupboards offer plenty of storage

  Credit: Chris Snook

  The sideboard in the dining area is painted to match the kitchen, bringing the scheme together

  The sideboard in the dining area is painted to match the kitchen, bringing the scheme together

  Credit: Chris Snook

  The full-height kitchen cupboards in a vibrant green (Arsenic by Farrow & Ball is similar) extend along one wall, offering plenty of storage to hide away the microwave and other gadgets. An area for bar stools has been added at the end of the island, which allows space for a sofa and armchairs to the side, while the sideboard doubles as a bar for parties.?

  agatha pendant light, £57.60, Dar Lighting; brooke velvet sofa, £1,250, Perch & Parrow

  Get the look:?agatha pendant light, £57.60, Dar Lighting; brooke velvet sofa, £1,250, Perch & Parrow

  The Flexible floor

  The linear design of this ground-floor family living space, by designers Simpson Studio, allows for distinct areas that blend together yet can also be separated off from each other.?

  The previous layout was typical of a Victorian terrace property, with separate rooms that made the centre of the house feel dark and no sense of flow.

  The owners have small children, and so built an internal swing to keep them entertained

  The owners have small children, and so built an internal swing to keep them entertained

  Credit: Chris Snook

  The bright sitting room can be snugly closed off from the library nook and kitchen/dining space

  The bright sitting room can be snugly closed off from the library nook and kitchen/dining space

  Credit: Chris Snook

  ‘The owners have four small children and also love to entertain,’ says architect Joanna Simpson, ‘so they wanted an open-plan downstairs area that reached out to the garden, as well as a cosy space to retreat to.’

  The solution was to build a glazed side extension to expand the kitchen and dining area at the back, with an internal swing attached to an exposed steel beam. Beyond, the staircase hall has been fitted out as a cosy library nook, which opens up the central part of the house. Glazed doors open from there into a sitting room at the front, which has a built-in window seat used for storing the children’s toys and games.

  The result is a space that can be completely opened up from front to back, with a clear sight line from the sitting room through to the end of the garden.?

  Pellor Dowsing & Reynolds Holloways of Ludlow

  Get the look: wooden swing, £51.99, Pellor; skyscraper cabinet handle, £34.99, Dowsing & Reynolds; parma up/down wall light, £101, Holloways of Ludlow

  The glamorous game-changer

  Interiors blogger Jess Hurrell (@gold_is_a_neutral) took advantage of a side-return extension to turn a narrow kitchen into a stylish family room.?

  The work expanded the room by 2.5-3 metres at the side and 1.5 metres at the rear, which allowed for two distinct areas:?a kitchen with a run of full-height cabinetry on one side, including utility and pantry cupboards, and a sitting and dining area with doors opening out to the garden.

  The banquette seating, custom-made by an upholsterer

  The banquette seating, custom-made by an upholsterer

  Credit: Kasia Fiszer

  The marble-look worktop is by Dekton

  The marble-look worktop is by Dekton

  Credit: Kasia Fiszer

  ‘I wanted to create two different but complementary zones between the kitchen and the dining area and, above all, I wanted it to be a space for socialising,’ says Hurrell.

  The banquette seating, custom-made by an upholsterer and covered in Kirkby Design velvet, not only looks glamorous, it’s an efficient use of space and also makes a comfortable sofa area; a Samsung Frame TV hangs on the wall opposite,?disguised as an artwork.

  ‘It’s hard to overstate the difference the kitchen has made to our family life,’ says Hurrell. ‘It’s gone from being a room we actively avoided, except to prepare food, to somewhere we spend 90 per cent of our time. We can all be in the same room, doing different things without getting on top of each other, but it’s also undoubtedly brought us closer together as a family, as we tend to sit down and eat together much more now, and the kids sit at the island while we prep food. If ever there was a game-changer for us, this is it.’

  Homescapes nirvana rattan bar stool Dunelm

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