SPACE PLANNING FOR OPEN LAYOUTS

"Space planning improve productivity and maximise efficiency."

Open space with living, dining and kitchen in a modern home
Image credit: Wix


Space planning is the most crucial step in an interior design project. It's what makes the space practical, functional, safe and aesthetically pleasing with a purpose. But, when you are planning an open space there are some issues to be considered that could affect the whole process, which are lack of privacy, acoustics, heating and lack of walls. But don't be put off on having that extension with your dream open layout. There are solutions for each problem above that I will explain to you.


And don't forget - "Space planning improve productivity and maximise efficiency and that's valid for any type of space." Let's dive into each issue on our open plan layout example.



Lack of privacy


"Remove interior walls and add an extension with plenty of glass to open up a dark home and flood it with natural daylight."

The statement above is a desirable one, specially if you live in a terraced house that usually only have windows and doors at the front and back of the house. With no windows on the side usually those rooms in the middle will be dark and gloomy.


Before and after plan for an extension with open layout for kitchen, dining and living.
Open space plans extract from Real Homes magazine, Mar 2010

Looking at the before plan on the left, you can see the kitchen is closed off from the living and conservatory making it small and cramped. The adjoining walls and french door were knocked down to unite the spaces into an open-plan kitchen/dining/living that looks out into the garden (after). It's a perfect scenario if you want an open layout where can be more interaction with every member of the family, independently where they are. But, there is a but... the lack of walls and the great amount of glasses create a lack of privacy. Imagine when you just want to have a quiet time for yourself reading a book or watching a movie without disturbing others, how that works in an open space?



Oak internal bifold doors in black
Image credit: Hamiltons doors and floors

Well, one of the solutions for lack of privacy is to create a semi-open-space by adding bifold doors half way between living and dining. A flexible space that can be closed and opened when necessary brings more practicality and efficiency to the use of the space without sacrificing the openness of the open layout. If your home is more classic you can opt for french doors instead and the results would be the same.





Lack of walls

Open plan kitchen with a large island
Image credit: Wix

Another problem with the open plans in general is lack of walls. In the plan above with the wall removed between the kitchen and dining, you think you might end up with less storage, but in fact is the opposite, with that wall out of the way you can place a huge island between kitchen and dining that will serve as a semi-divider for both areas and also create spaces for lower cabinets in the island with plenty of storage. It's modern, on-trend and very efficient. You have the openness and plenty of storage as well. Storage doesn't have to be always placed on walls. A good design plan can always find solutions elsewhere.



Underfloor Heating system being installed in a residential open space
Image credit: Nu-Heat

Heating


This is a very serious issue, because it hits your pocket. People that lives in open space homes usually describe as their number one problem with this type of layout is the difficulty of heating and the expense that regenerate with that.


There are several solutions for this problem, seal and insulate, use a supplement heating source, add warm window treatment, etc... but if you are extending or renovating you will most definitely install new floorings, so this is the right time to add underfloor heating (UFH). They are highly recommended for open spaces as being the most effective to distribute the heating evenly across the room. But what is the cost of running underfloor heating?


Compared with wall radiator, UFH input temperature is as low as 40ºC while radiator typically requires 70 to 90ºC making the UFH cheaper to run. And it's also 25% to 40% more efficient than radiator. When you combine the UFH with a wood flooring instead of tiles and finish it off with nice area rugs in the living and dining area you will have an extra warmer place and I'm sure you will be well prepared for the next winter season without hitting your pocket too hard. And just to add another pro of the UFH, you free up valuable floor space in your home by removing the wall radiator. It's an Interior Designer's dream.


Open plan kitchen, dining, living
Image credit: Wix

Acoustics


According with Homebuilding & Renovating website on their Soundproofing and Noice control guide, June 17, 2020


"A potent mix of open plan living, tall ceilings, lots of glass and hard floors – not to mention our children staying around longer – means noise is an issue that needs addressing in extension or self build projects."

Mark Brinkley, builder and author of Housebuilder's Bible


Suppose you have a TV in the living room and the kids want to watch something while you are in the kitchen cooking, talking or the dishwasher is on. All of those noises will echo around the room and create a not very good experience for those watching and too much noise for those doing something else. The solution for this kind of problem in open space is to install acoustic absorption panels on the walls that will help absorb the noise and reduce the echo around the room. The only downside at the moment is that are only commercial-grade panels are available, but the design of those are improving to be more aesthetically pleasing for domestic use.



Keep in mind


Lastly, when you plan an open space or any space for that matter, think about the traffic flow through the room, how the circulation on a daily routine will occur by keeping the needs and functionality in mind.



Help is at a short distance


If you need help to design and space plan your home as well planning permission drawings for your application, please Click Here, and fill the inquiry form about your project and what help do you need. I'm a qualified Interior Designer that can help you realise your dream open space extension. You can also leave any comments below if you wish.