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Open Plan Design: When To Knock Through

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by Lorena Benchis
(Leeds, England, UK)

by Dominic's pics

by Dominic’s pics

If you bought a home ten to twenty years ago the estate agent would have been keen to tell you about the number of rooms the property had – the higher the number the more valuable the house – and about features such as a ‘breakfast room’, ‘garden room’ or ‘formal dining room’.

Phrases like ‘open-plan living’ and ‘flowing environment’ would have been unimaginable and a definite turn off. Nowadays, these same home-owners are dissatisfied with their compartmentalised properties and are taking on major renovations to achieve a more modern look.

Interior designers love to ‘open things up’ and the most common room to fall under scrutiny is the kitchen. Open plan living is more than just a design idea it is a way of life and revolves around the way a family uses their communal space in a fluid way.

Kitchens can be connected to conservatories, dining rooms and living rooms – often just with simple kitchen worktops de-marking the separate areas. The results are pleasing to the eye but sometimes cause practical headaches, so think carefully before making any decisions and always try and visualise what the space will look like, so as not to get a less than pleasant surprise later on.

During the build process you may need to remove a load bearing wall which will then involve you strengthening the ceiling, and in moving the orientation of fitted kitchens you may run into tricky plumbing issues which have to be resolved. In this case it’s always best to ask for help from a specialist and postpone your diy desires for later. Post-build you could discover that the space is difficult to light or heat and that noise and kitchen odours are an unpleasant by-product.

Think carefully about whether to knock through or not and make sure you are clear on what exactly the space will look and feel like. Planning ahead is the best way to do these things, and often compromising is not the right way to go, especially not when it comes to your dream home.

Ensure you are adding value to your property as well – in certain cases this kind of project can actually detract from your investment. The interior design is key so engage an experienced professional and do your homework – changing your mind once the walls come down is not really an option!

Updated: January 6, 2014 — 8:40 am

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