The kitchen, dining room, and living area increasingly merge into one large space, creating an open-plan kitchen-diner: beautiful and practical, but a quiet spot is hard to find. You can learn here whether the open design of the kitchen is also suitable for you and what is important in the design of an open kitchen.
According to the definition, a kitchen-living room is a separate room in which, in addition to the kitchen, there are several chairs and a dining table. The kitchen and dining room in one and, especially in the past, the center of family life. Today, the eat-in kitchen is more fashionable than ever. Especially the open kitchen-living room is gaining popularity.
What Is Meant by an Open-Plan Kitchen?
If you look at the floor plans of newly built apartments and houses, you will often find open-plan eat-in kitchens. Unlike the separated eat-in kitchen, the open version is an ample space where everything happens: cooking, eating, playing board games, resting – or even the infamous kitchen party. Thus, an open kitchen-living room combines the dining room and kitchen and integrates the living area, creating a new living concept.
The individual areas can be visually separated from each other, but often they merge smoothly. So it is not uncommon that in the open kitchen-living room, one-floor covering is chosen for all areas, and the walls are painted the same color. Before you read our tips on decorating an open kitchen, you should ask yourself if you are even the type for an open living kitchen.
Does an Open-Plan Kitchen Suit Me?
Open kitchens are not for everyone. Remember that an open-plan eat-in kitchen is a lively and noisy space, and you have to put up with it as a family. If you have a problem with this, opting for a kitchen separated from the living area by a built-in door is better. Because retreat possibilities offer an open kitchen, usually only the bedroom and the children’s room – or another separate room was planned, which is rarely the case.
Be aware that many activities overlap in an open living kitchen: Are you watching TV on the couch? Do the kids play with each other here, and do they build Lego on the floor? Do you read books or flip through magazines and want a reading nook for that? Would you like to listen to some louder music without Bluetooth headphones? Will pets be moving in with you? Do you do yoga or stand on the stepper and watch TV? Do you want to set up a home office?
Before thinking about kitchen planning and remodeling, one crucial question is: What are your living needs? Do you prefer an open floor plan where each area flows smoothly into the next, or should each function have its own space?
If your desire for quiet predominates, there is much to be said for a separate room for the living area. If, on the other hand, things can get louder and livelier and you always want to have everything in view when cooking, the decision will probably go in favor of an open-plan kitchen/living room. In this variant, a small TV and computer game room can help to dampen the background noise. Of course, other aspects also play a role. Thus, although good arguments favor an open kitchen-living room, the design also has drawbacks. The following explains what speaks for and against an open-plan eat-in kitchen.
Why Should I Choose an Open Living Kitchen?
There are good reasons to choose an open kitchen-living room. For example, are you a sociable person who likes to be around people and doesn’t want to miss out on anything when you’re cooking? Then the open living kitchen is made for you and has the potential to become your dream kitchen. Thanks to the open design, you are always in the middle of the action and can see what your family or guests are doing in the living room while you are cooking – this makes an open kitchen living room the perfect space for the next kitchen party, before turning it into a thriving garden party in good weather.
Speaking of kitchen parties, an open kitchen is always visible – and not just to yourself. If you follow our tips when designing the kitchen, your beautiful kitchen will also be shown off to its best advantage by your guests and will be the topic of conversation. And let’s face it: they will certainly be happy to marvel at your cooking skills and praise you for the successful meal while sitting at the wooden dining table.
By the way, the worry that you or your guests will not have enough space is usually unfounded in an open kitchen: Not only is the open design ideal for making small rooms seem larger, but an open-plan eat-in kitchen offers more space when space is at a premium. Because of the lack of walls, you are less constricted in an open-plan kitchen and much more flexible when it comes to furnishing.
What’s Wrong With an Open-Plan Eat-In Kitchen?
In addition to all the benefits of an open living kitchen, you’ll also have to face a few drawbacks. Be aware of one thing in particular: an open-plan eat-in kitchen lacks a defined living area as a private retreat where you can relax on your own from time to time. Whether your kids are playing circus, a loud, smart TV is on, or dinner is sizzling away in the kitchen, there’s always something going on in an open living kitchen. The open design is, therefore, less suitable for people seeking peace.
With an open-plan eat-in kitchen, you should ensure it is always tidy. While in a separate kitchen, you can simply close the door after cooking and hide the mess; this is impossible in an open living kitchen. Another disadvantage of not having an interior door is that cooking creates smells and sounds that spread from the open kitchen into the living area. While a powerful extractor hood can avoid the smells, it becomes more difficult with the noise.
How Big Should an Open-Plan Kitchen-Living Room Be?
The optimal room size of an open-plan kitchen-living room depends on the one hand on, how it is used and how open the floor plan is – and on the other hand, of course, on the number of occupants. The combined living-dining room should measure between 30 and 40 square meters for a family of four to five. Another 12 square meters will be added to the required living space if the kitchen is also in the open area.
How to Arrange an Open Kitchen-Living Room?
An open kitchen-living room is not a purely functional space, such as a separate kitchen where only cooking is done. The living area, dining room, and kitchen merge. That’s why a well-coordinated overall concept is the be-all and end-all: an open-plan eat-in kitchen should convey the sense of security of a beautifully furnished living room without neglecting the functionality of the kitchen and dining area. Colors, fabrics, light, and the right flooring can contribute to this feel-good factor.
Tip 1: Decide on a Suitable Kitchen Shape
If you opt for an open-plan eat-in kitchen, you can choose different shapes like a regular kitchen. If you are short on space, a single-line kitchen is a good choice, making it harder to separate the kitchen from the rest of the open-plan living kitchen. If you want to visually separate your open-plan kitchen into two areas, a kitchen island can work wonders and create an additional work surface. If you need more storage space in the kitchen, choose a two-line kitchen or a kitchen in a U-shape or L-shape when planning the kitchen.
Tip 2: Choose a Suitable Floor Covering
An open-plan kitchen is a living area and kitchen in one. Accordingly, a wide range of materials can be used as flooring. In addition to parquet, vinyl, or laminate, tiles or a floor made of linoleum are also suitable for the open-plan kitchen.
Note, however, that some materials, such as carpet, are not suitable for the kitchen floor for hygienic reasons, while they are not a problem as floors for the living room. However, this does not mean that you have to do without it in your open living kitchen: Because even if the open living kitchen is often laid on the entire surface of a single floor, you can combine different materials and thus visually distinguish the living area from the kitchen and dining room: Especially a carpet under the dining table can provide that certain something in an open-plan kitchen-diner.
Tip 3: Ensure a Coherent Color Concept
Life happens in the kitchen, so it is often painted in bright yellow or fiery red. In an open-plan kitchen, however, this quickly becomes too much. A subtle, restrained shade such as a warm gray, a delicate vanilla yellow, or a warm nude is suitable for painting all walls. Bold colors are best limited to one wall. The sofa or living room shelf can contrast with the wall color. Also, include the sofa fabric and flooring in the color selection and color-coordinate the different areas of the open kitchen-living room.
Tip 4: Combine Different Light Sources
In addition to the classic ceiling light, you should include other light sources in the kitchen lighting to create a pleasant atmosphere. These can be smart wall lights that illuminate the room without glare and indirectly. LED strips in the shelves, drawers, or ceiling are also ideal for providing sufficient light while cooking. In the living room, you can also use adjustable floor lamps: if the lights are dimmable, they can create different lighting moods.
Tip 5: Reduce the Noise Level With Curtains
The sofa or curtain gives the open kitchen-living room something warm and soft – they also absorb sound, preventing it from becoming too noisy when cooking. Another advantage is that the curtain can protect from direct views and darken the room and windows. There are double-row rails that allow you to combine both. But beware: the curtains readily and quickly absorb kitchen odors and act as dust collectors. So you should wash them more often.
Tip 6: Make Sure the Living Area Has the Right Orientation
In the best case, the living area of the open kitchen-living room has an orientation to the west or southwest, and there is direct access to the garden, terrace, or balcony – this has the advantage of enjoying the sun’s rays in the room or outside at the end of the day. In summer, an open-plan kitchen-living room with large-format, floor-to-ceiling windows can quickly heat up or even overheat. A sunshade for the window can help against this. External sun protection can be solved, for example, with the help of a roof overhang. Or you can install an external Venetian blind, which protects against direct sunlight while allowing light into the kitchen and living area.