It’s no secret that we love our open plan living spaces, who wouldn’t? They provide so many lifestyle options – spending time with family and friends, cooking together, yelling at the kids, telling off James at the office for eating all the Kingston biscuits. But I digress.
In architecture terms the issues we face with open plan is ending up with a soulless echo chamber. To avoid this, the best designs define the various zone by playing with changes in elevation, materials, natural light, furniture placement, etc etc. The point is design doesn’t happen by accident; by adding deliberate layers a space can become more interesting and enjoyable to be in (and ensures James and the Kingstons’ are within eyeshot).
Think you can either have separate spaces or open plan? Nope, and that’s great news! The design of open plan can be manipulated into creating zones through various options such as floor level, floor materials, ceiling detail or as simply as your furniture configuration.
The beautiful home above shows a strong sense of separation even though the spaces are obviously in the same room – this has been achieved through the use of a sunken lounge. Originating from the 30s, the sunken lounge is making a comeback as the ultimate chill zone and space for intimate gatherings. But, be warned, don’t try it unless you make it a decent size. Anything small will come across as a pothole on the highway.
Create Visual Separation
The Central West has some beautiful old homes, and many are being altered to suit modern families. When doing this, creating a clear visual separation between the old and the new can really enhance the sense of more space.
The image above with the cute photobomber shows the parquetry floors have been contrasted against crisp concrete in the new extension. Overall, this style of extension allows you to experience the best of both worlds with old world charm and contemporary living.
Use An Island
Kitchen islands are probably the most common design tool for defining zones, providing you have enough space.
Fun fact: most people don’t realise that open plan is so popular because of islands.
A well-planned kitchen is not only functional, but give the added benefit of making people feel immediately at ease by knowing where they can and can’t be. A great example of this is any visitor will be instinctively aware of if they stay on the back side, they will be out of the way of the cook (and from being poked with any sharp objects).
Expert tip thanks to our favourite honey badger: Remember the 7 P’s. Prior proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance