Six ideas on how to lay out your open-plan living space

Having an open-plan living area continues to prove very popular with homeowners, but one of the challenges can be exactly where to site everything? Here are six suggestions on how best to lay out your open-plan living space.

  1. Lay the room out lengthways

One way to make the most of a side return extension is to make good use of the length of the space with an open-plan kitchen leading to a living area at the rear. This can be achieved with a central island and a long run of base units on one wall. To keep the long, lean space as wide as possible, leave the other wall free of units with tall units along the back wall for storage and appliances.

  1. Create a grid of four

Where your open-plan space has almost square proportions this lends itself to a grid layout. Typically the four areas will consist of a kitchen, a family dining space, a living area and a formal dining zone, each in its own corner of the grid.

A clever design approach here is to separate each area with a subtle difference in colour, such as a white kitchen, bright family dining zone, the neutral living space and dark blue tones in the formal dining area.

  1. Let the cook have a garden view

In many open-plan living spaces, the kitchen is positioned in front of the dining area or lounging zone, which then leads out to the garden. The idea is that you can look out at the garden while you sit and chat.

Whilst this can often work in most spaces, sometimes the opposite layout can be just as effective. The alternative option is to locate the kitchen next to the patio doors, which brings plenty of light into the area and creates a lovely space in which to cook.

4. Spread out a little (or a lot!)

A listed building, or renovating older or unconventional properties may have unusual shaped spaces that have challenges all of their own when it comes to layout. A barn conversion, for example, may have doorways or windows on all sides, which limits wall space for locating kitchen cabinets.

A good design approach here is to create a wide-open kitchen that utilises both the back and front of the room. Whilst this might result in more running about on behalf of the chief cook, it can help separate the functions of food preparation, washing up and dining

  1. Hide the kitchen

If space is at a premium and cooking is not really as important to you as lounging around, then you could emphasise the living area rather than the kitchen. This can simply be achieved by tucking the kitchen to the side, leaving more space for the dining zone and living area.

A discreet run of tall units can blend into the wall, so as not to distract from the rest of the room, with a peninsula with hob and sink. To ensure kitchen fumes don’t waft into the living areas, and to avoid a large cooker hood obstructing the view, an extractor fan can be located in the hob on the island.

  1. Just go wide

Having a wide expanse of indoor space that runs horizontally at the rear will offer great potential for flexible living. Use of glazed doors can bring in plenty of light and increase the connection to the garden. A key decision is where to locate the kitchen, which could be more central to the interior of the house where there’s enough wall space for cabinets as long as it can still benefit from a good helping of natural light.

A horizontal layout allows for separate zones for the dining and living areas and by positioning each area in front of its own door or window, each is anchored to a different view of the garden.

FABRICO design help is on hand with these and any other conundrums you may have with the use of your interior space. We are always pleased to discuss your plans and give you the benefit of our time and expertise. If self-build is of interest, or if you have another project in mind, feel free to contact us either through our website (click here to contact us) or email us