It’s the first thing people say to me – “we want it to be more open plan” – but what is open plan living and will it suit your family?
Things open plan is: sociable, connected, illusion of more space; with the potential for it to be light and bright if done well.
Things open plan isn’t: private, quiet, clutter free, suited to all uses (don’t try clarinet practice / TV / homework simultaneously)
In a response to a recent survey on using your home during the lockdown one person noted “I’ve learned that open plan living is great, but can still feel claustrophobic when you’re in the same space all. day. long. We’re v lucky to have separate space to enjoy when we need some quiet time”. That latter point is the key – keep a separate space. Go part open plan and retain a separate room, or use internal dividers so that there is flexibility to close it off. Create a “snug” (posh word for a usually smaller second living room) – maybe it can double as home office or occasional guest room. A place to escape the little kids… a place for the bigger kids to escape you!
If you’re still up for open plan – perhaps broken plan is worth considering, this Houzz article looks at how dividers and level changes can be used to great effect. We used these principles to reformat a 1960’s home in Caversham with great success.
There are obvious practicalities with getting your house to become open plan – removing walls and inserting steel work; maybe you’ll need to retain a small section of wall here or there. I’m pretty sure with enough engineering the structural engineers could make your home practically float…but there’s a difference between what is possible and what is reasonable… because you have got a budget right? There are actually a fair amount of pros to keeping some walls: for storage, furniture, radiators if you’re not going for underfloor heating.
Lighting, acoustics and fire regulations also need careful consideration, to ensure that your home is both comfortable and safe. Open plan can be brilliant, but think carefully about how you and your family want to live before you commit to it.