Free flowing sight-lines, cosy environments that bring the whole family together, spaces that organically connect the favourite parts of your home and garden – it is clear to see why open plan extension layouts are so popular nowadays. Open environments make your home feel larger and let you interact with your family or guests while cooking or setting the table. However, designing a well-balanced and functional open plan extension takes skill and creativity, so check out these ideas before committing to any particular plan!
Dividing the Space
First, determine how many purposes your open space is going to serve. Typical combinations include kitchen, dining area and an entertainment zone, sometimes connected to an alfresco or a deck – organically bringing together the inside and the outside of your home. You’ll need to figure out where one functional area ends and the other begins and how much space you need for every zone.
The kitchen, of course, requires the most careful consideration. It needs to be big enough for you to cook and move around it comfortably, but you don’t want to make it too large and render some surfaces unreachable and useless – not to mention that it will cut into other areas in your open plan home.
Finally, be mindful of the circulation space that your home needs. Don’t overcrowd it with furniture, blocking passage from one zone to another. It is especially important if you have kids or invite guests often. It is better if your interior looks somewhat barren with ample distance between furniture than if you can’t go through your living room without stubbing your toes a few dozen times. Although proper balance is of course the key to creating an amazing interior.
Sightlines and Views
Open plan extension layouts can create spectacular sight-lines, letting your eyes drink in the environment, roaming freely over furniture, windows and decorations. To really make the most of this set up, however, you need to be mindful of many different things at once right from the planning stage.
First and foremost, work the view. Make sure you’re opening your windows and glass doors to the best sight you can find and try to make it visible from as many angles and different areas in your home as possible. Consider adding roof lights to maximise the use of daylight – both to save energy and to make your home feel bigger, fresher and more welcoming. At the same time, keep in mind that there are some downsides to adding too much light as well. Namely, if you plan on watching TV during the day, set aside some budget for blinds or find a place where outside light won’t drown out your screen.
Another important consideration is harmonising your furniture with the rest of the environment from different angles. Your sofas and armchairs need to look good front, back and centre and they need to compliment different backgrounds, fitting well with your kitchen isle and the window on the other side. Keeping your furniture low and neutral in colours and styles is a nice and easy solution, although with some creativity you can fit together even the most unusual combinations.
Great open plan extension spaces are in a constant balancing act between harmonising different zones and bringing them out with unique touches. Clever positioning is, of course, the first step to separate different zones in a meaningful way. We’ve already touched on circulation space – ideally, your open plan extension needs just the right distance between different zones and enough space within them. Here are a few more ideas to create cues and visual boundaries that won’t disrupt the flow of your open space.
Texture. Accentuate different spaces by using different materials with memorable textures. Stone and metal look and work best in the kitchen, glass makes a lot of sense for the dining area, whereas textiles rule in the entertainment zone, surrounding the TV. Use similar colours to keep the space together and voila!
Rugs. Use a rug for an easy way to mark the boundaries of an area and to give it its own mood and style.
Light. Clever use of lighting is an extremely effective way to set the mood. Combining natural light, table lamps and pendants, you can set up areas that can blend together or stand apart at the command of a light-switch.
Feature wall. This one should be used carefully and sparingly but it works well to affect a certain mood in an area and leave a strong impression.
Colour. A bold and memorable solution that can also give your space an artistic touch. You can experiment by painting the walls or even the ceiling, or merely colour-coding the furniture in different areas. Just make sure to pick colours and shades that work well together and that won’t feel oppressive with different lighting.
A Few Practicalities
Like with every project, preparing for various practical eventualities goes a long way to ensuring your success. Most of these practicalities don’t get talked about all that much, but even a few small things like investing in quiet appliances and improving acoustics by adding more rugs and soft furniture can dramatically improve the feel of your home.
When designing your open plan extension, pay attention to where you’re planning to install your air conditioning and heating units. Make sure that the air can circulate and reach everywhere easily and that you won’t end up with a cold draft on your back when watching TV.
Another issue that can ruin an open plan home is the clutter. Mess looks especially unattractive when you look at it from multiple angles instead of enjoying a gorgeous view. So, don’t forget to include ample storage space at the planning stage. Built-ins let you add storage without sacrificing much space while stand-alone cupboards and accent tables are great for zoning your interior with style.
Open plan is one of the most sought-after features in modern homes and building a comfortable and stylish layout is a worthy investment. Hopefully, this advice will help you create a perfect open plan extension design for your home whether you’re designing it on your own or enlisting the help of a professional.