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Open-plan living: How to do it right

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More and more people, over the last couple of decades, have turned their old house around implementing the concept of open-plan living. However, open-plan living can be tricky to get right and simply knocking a few walls down won’t always give you the results you were looking for. From noise to clutter, there are many ways that open-plan living can become a headache pretty fast.

In the first video from my 3 part video series, I share how I created an open-plan space that makes family living a breeze.

Our homes are the places where we spend our most important time with the people that matter most in our life. Investing in how our home is designed should be a priority.

The starting point can be a stumbling block. The focus tends to be on aesthetics or adding square footage. I believe instead that people should be focusing on themselves and their families and how they want to live.

Ask yourself and even your family what isn’t working and what would make the most significant difference to the enjoyment of your home? These kinds of questions will help you to focus on where you should invest.

Watch it here


open plan living advice

The starting point

The starting point for the renovation of my home and that made me consider open-plan living as a change was the need for a bigger fridge. We also needed more space to cook and entertain.

The original kitchen and dining area could only be described as compact. Our family loves to cook, but we never tended to cook together. There wasn’t enough counter space and it was difficult for two people to be in the kitchen at the same time.

Eating together as a family was tricky because we didn’t have space. The dining area could only comfortably accommodate six. Not ideal for entertaining.

In the evening time, we tended to split up. Now with the new kitchen cooking can be a family affair, even the kids can get involved.

kitchen renovation ideas for open-plan living

Open-plan living as a new way of living

Extending our home has created a whole new way of living for our family. We keep the dining area close to the garden. This created a lovely connection between inside and outside. Ideal in the summertime when entertaining.

Now, if it’s a nice morning, the kids will open the doors and sit outside to have their breakfast.

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My favourite spot

We put the seating area in the cosier part of the open-plan living space. Making sure that the layout worked in such a way that the TV was not the sole focus was very important.

One of my favourite places to sit now is on the sofa looking out onto the garden. Too often rooms are laid out with all of the furniture facing a wall. I love my garden, so I wanted to maximise the connection between inside and outside. The furniture layout was critical to this.

open-plan living space design

Clever Tips

We went with underfloor heating which freed up all the wall space. This made space for lots of storage. Designing the storage in this way was critical to the success of the space. Everything has a place. Even though it’s an open-plan living space it’s incredibly easy to keep tidy.

We chose drawers instead of cupboards in the kitchen. This has made it much easier to find everything. It’s also much easier for the kids to access stuff and more importantly, put things away.

A great tip to minimise clutter in the kitchen is to go with a hot water tap instead of a kettle. I designed a cupboard to take all of the countertop appliances. Items like the toaster, coffee machine and all the other bits and pieces like the bread bin, cereal boxes etc. It’s worked brilliantly and means the countertop is always stuff-free.

I love how everyone feels at home here now and how livable it is. We have two young boys and we’re in the phase of our lives where all our friends have kids. So having a house that is kid-friendly is essential. The house has a calming effect too, it’s the first thing everyone says when they visit.

open-plan living advice

Surprising fact

Since completing the project, family gatherings happen at our house. The most surprising revelation is that I have an unlimited supply of babysitters as everyone is fighting over the chance to stay over.

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Are you considering going open-plan living, or do you already have an open-plan layout?
Share what works for you in the Comments below.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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