What to think about when planning your open plan home renovation!
Open-plan living rooms are growing in popularity as homeowners look to really embrace the spaces they live in and move beyond the traditional formal lounge room that so many homes are designed around. Installing one large multi-functional room allows for traditional living room activities such as reading or watching television alongside dining, working-from-home office space and socialising. An open-plan living room really transforms the space from a room that can quite often feel closed off to a real hub for the whole family.
Installing an open-plan living room in your home is somewhat dependent on a decent space being available but with clever space usage and some design tips and tricks, you can achieve quite a lot without having to live in a mansion. Follow this guide to get planning and start designing your perfect open-plan living room…
It’s important to understand what you have to work with in order to realise its potential. Of course, the way most people procure more space is to buy a bigger house but this needn’t be done; there’s lots of simple adjustments that can be made to smaller rooms to make it more sociable and introduce more functions to the space within.
Changes such as moving or blocking up a doorway, adding sliding glass doors in place of a brick wall or switching the direction of a staircase can all be implemented to change the ‘flow’ through a room or floor and can be done without necessarily having to knock down walls and implement mass structural amends. Clever spatial solutions can be advised upon by an architect or renovations specialist who will be able to make the most of space.
It’s perhaps a misconception that open-plan rooms are simply created as a result of knocking down walls and decorating in one colour throughout – and whilst this can be done, it doesn’t have to be! Getting heavy with a jackhammer to combine rooms next to each will physically open up a larger living space but a similar effect can be achieved through creating large openings rather than taking drastic action. Adjoining hallways, garages and other utility areas can be opened up in the same way. Some walls may be easily removed but of course, the structural impact of load-bearing walls must be checked before any action is taken; and should steel supports need installing, specialist intervention will be required.
Sliding doors, particularly glass, can stay true to the feeling of an open-plan layout whilst still providing privacy when needed and still allow natural light to flow through.
The lights that are currently installed in a living room may not still be appropriate for the space once it has been opened up into an open-plan layout. If possible, an electrician can wire up zones of the room in different circuits for light adjustment based on mood, time of day and natural light accentuation. If the new open-plan layout can be further accentuated by the allowance of more natural light into the room, open this up as much as possible, be it through larger or more windows, sliding doors, a roof lantern or skylights.
Don’t forget: your lights don’t need to match throughout! Providing the aesthetics at least have a common theme throughout to keep the design coherent, you can mix and match as much as you’d like.
While an open-plan layout can be used for just about everything, it’s still important to have the ‘zones’ of the room defined in design so that you can bear these in mind with the decoration and space utilisation. Such zones can be marked out by furniture (a sofa makes a great divide) or slightly differing decoration (think a new colour, rug or physical shape painted on the wall). Even if the usage of the room doesn’t exactly adhere to your plans, at the end of each day you can clean up and pack things away in their rightful place.
A renovations consultant will be able to help advise you on exactly how such designs can work as well as offer a degree of fluidity throughout - after all, nothing stays strictly the same forever!
One of the biggest disadvantages of an open-plan living room is noise transference between activities; sometimes with a washing machine running away at one end, someone trying to dial into a Microsoft Teams call in a work-from-home area in the middle and someone else trying to watch a TV programme at the other side. To negate this, check the decibel ratings of any new appliance purchases before you buy and for any areas of the room that may need to facilitate quieter activities, consider privacy screens or other temporary barriers that could be enacted. If large expanses of glass are to be installed into the ceiling or walls, consider the ongoing impact of sunlight glare and insulation on the creation of a comfortable ambience within the room.
Although industrial-type interior design is very much ‘in’ at the moment, don’t lose sight of the comfort that a living room should bring. It must still feel like somewhere you can sit and unwind after a busy day, even if you do want it to look a well curated and designed space.
An open-plan living room can very quickly become untidy with clutter – because it’s such a well-used space in the home and for such a range of activities! Providing dedicated storage in each area of the room allows for everything you may need to be close to hand but also easy to quickly stash away when used. For smaller rooms, hidden storage solutions such as stools or flush cabinets may make for the best use of space but in larger areas, you may be able to install shelves or full storage units.
Refresh have worked on a variety of storage solutions for spaces of all sizes – just give your local office a call and get us in to review your property to help advise you on what could work!
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If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support you with a high quality, efficient home renovation, get in touch today. Your local Refresh consultant will be happy to meet with you for a free, no obligations consultation.