Kitchen

Optimizing an open-plan kitchen with multi-use spaces

To make the most or your open-plan kitchen, you need to think in three dimensions plus the fourth time. No, it’s not the Twilight Zone, it’s the modern way to design your flexible space to fit in with the ebb and flow of daily life.

Articles - 2 August 2016


Four-dimensional design makes itself at home in the open-plan kitchen


An open plan kitchen is a great way to make the most of limited space, creating an open, airy feel, and providing a family-friendly living area. Kitchen design starts with the first three dimensions: up and down, and side to side. A vertical divider like beaded curtains, a dropped lighting bar, or a bamboo or branch screen all draw a line to separate the kitchen workspace without impeding the flow of light, air, and family conversation. Most functional of all, the food-prep island or L-shaped countertop literally draws a line, but other horizontal dividers can make a subtle impact too. Kitchen decoration that incorporates a lighter ceiling color separates spaces with a subliminal visual message, and a rich rug delineates the living room floor giving an instant feeling of home comforts. And the fourth dimension? You only occupy the kitchen a couple of times a day; what about the rest of the time?

Open plan kitchen 2

Give your hanging lighting bar alternating different colored bulbs: spotlight-white for daytime kitchen work, a more mellow color in the other direction to warm up the living room side for down time. The super-useful island can be made to work even harder: create a focal point in the living room side by insetting the TV or console, with alcoves on either side to accommodate DVDs, books, and ornaments. That way, it’s not just a barrier, but multi-tasks in the living room too. Or consider cupboard doors on opposite sides of the island: kitchen side for utensils, and a cupboard for tableware, candles, and hobby materials on the living room side. And breakfast bar stools can become offbeat lampstands for a romantic dinner or evening with friends. Before you start, use 3D home design software to test your ideas, and use the Homebyme online 3D tool to visualize your multi-tasking space.

1 . Create a natural screen

Hang a screen made of natural twiggy branches, strung-together bamboo, or bead curtain to separate living room and kitchen functions.

2 . Allow for storage space

Incorporate an island storage and preparation counter or L-shaped countertop into your kitchen design to turn the necessity of storage and prep space into a design demarcation feature.

3 . Horizontal signals for separation

Use subtle horizontal visual signals to separate the spaces: a lighter color ceiling over the kitchen, or a warm cosy rug on the floor to show where the relaxed living space starts.

4 . Create a warm atmosphere

Use a hanging light bar creatively with bright bulbs angled over the kitchen work areas, and more mellow colors in the living room direction to add a warm atmosphere for the evening.

5 . Create a living room feature

Use the space below the countertop as a living room feature; incorporate living room items like a TV or console, alcoves for books or ornaments, or living room storage cupboards.

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