In the past, the layout of a home was designed in a rather segregated fashion: the living room was completely separate from the kitchen, which was separate from the dining room. Now, however, homeowners favor open floor plans, both in new constructions and remodels. Often, these three rooms become one giant space.
Unlike a floor plan with many isolated rooms, an open layout is more free-flowing and gives the feel of one larger space. Homeowners are embracing open floor plans because they are great for entertaining and conversation.
If you’re building a new home or remodeling your existing kitchen, here are several ways to create an open floor plan. For remodels, please know that depending on current layout of your home and the original construction, some of these options may not be feasible. Also, many of these methods can be used together to influence an open environment and reflect choices made in the kitchen cabinets.
The best, most drastic method for creating an open layout is also probably the most obvious: removing a wall. This is a great place to start and results from pursuing this choice are apparent right away. By knocking down a wall, two rooms are combined into one larger space.
For more read our article: Pro Tips and for Taking Out a Wall.
However great this choice may be, it isn’t always possible in every home. Walls may be load-bearing, meaning they support the structure, or they may be hiding plumbing, venting, and electrical work. In these cases, wall removal may be a costly, difficult process. If the entire wall cannot be removed, perhaps an interior window could be added to connect two spaces.
Upper Cabinet Removal
Many kitchens in homes built before the early 90s feature upper cabinets above a peninsula. If not needed for storage, the uppers can be removed to extend the line of sight and the amount of light let into the kitchen. In this case, the upper cabinets act as a wall, and without them the room feels larger and more connected to the rest of the home. As an added benefit, the peninsula becomes more useful, and can function as a conversation and eating area.
Peninsula & Kitchen Island
As stated, peninsulas are great for entertaining. But, they can be obtrusive and interrupt the flow of an open floor plan. One way to reconfigure the peninsula is to extend it from the wall at an angle larger than 90°. This helps better blend the spaces together. Or, another strategy is to substitute the peninsula for an island. Here, the island preserves the storage, counter space, and the conversation center, but encourages the intermingling of rooms.
Editor’s Note: Follow my Remodel here. For more on creating a kitchen passthrough, for example.
If you’re existing kitchen features soffits, one possibility for creating the illusion of a larger space is to remove them. Soffits bring the overall height of the ceiling down, thus cramping the space. After removal, extend the upper cabinet up to the ceiling. Taller cabinets will help add height to a room and give the benefit of added storage or display space.
One rule of thumb for open spaces: the more natural sunlight in a room, the larger it will feel. To add more light to a room, consider knocking down that will add another window to the space. However, if structural support issues won’t allow this, you can try enlarging an existing window or installing a skylight. Consult your contractor to see if these options are possible.
Thanks out to August from @CliqStudios for this contribution. Look for them and congrats on their recent spots on the DIY Network‘s Kitchen Crashers w/ Alison Victoria. Or check their sharp Kitchen Remodeling Guide with Janice Pattee. For more info on CliqStudios, see their About below.
For more inspiration, you can find tons on Houzz and/or on Pinterest. Plus there are plenty of nice roundups available online. Here’s one from HGTV – 15 Open Concept Kitchens. For more from us on how to achieve these designs, see our category – Kitchen Remodeling. Cheers. ~jb
All images via CliqStudios.