Open-plan living areas have received a lot of love over the years. For decades, they have been the de facto choice of interior designers and architects alike. Allowing for big open expanses that are light and airy with an overarching sense of flow.
They are however, not without their issues. For example, some homeowners complain that open plan kitchen/living areas mean that the constant sound of pots and pans clanking, washing machines spinning and kettles boiling make it impossible to get any peace and quiet on the sofa after a hard day at work, then there’s also the fact you can’t just shut a door to hide away those dirty dishes leftover from dinner when you just want to wallow in front of a boxset and forget all about such mundane chores, or if some guests make an impromptu appearance!
Enter the ‘broken plan’ layout — a happy compromise between the traditional domestic floor plan of specific use rooms separated by walls, and more modern open-plan arrangements. Broken plan allows homeowners to keep all the things they love about open-plan living while still retaining some elements of privacy and compartmentalisation within the home.
But just how does broken plan work and how can you achieve it in your home?
Embrace semi-permanent partitions
Breaking up an open plan space with semi-permanent partitions is easy, items of furniture such as tall shelving units, book cases and Japanese panel dividers allow you to segmentalise areas of the home for specific use. This way you still get the sense of light and flow within the room, but you can still carve out quiet areas to relax and read, and other areas to hideaway mess.
Utilise internal windows
Using internal glass windows to separate internal areas may perhaps bring to mind office meeting rooms and train carriages, but it can look stunning in domestic settings, particularly for home offices. Allowing you to cut yourself off and focus on your work in the quiet, while still being able to see out into the rest of the home.
Using glass fencing around mezzanine areas, is a safe way to break up the areas while still allowing maximum light throughout the property.
It’s all about split levels
Split-level doesn’t just refer to those ‘conversation pits’ from the ‘70s, although, we’ve got to admit we think they are due a welcome comeback. Utilising split level design is a great way to break up open plan spaces. Consider creating a raised platform to place the dining table and chairs, this is a great solution to create a distinct formal dining zone that sits within a much larger open plan space.
A more dramatic way to make the most of different levels in the home is to create a mezzanine floor, such as a den, reading nook or even guest bedroom that floats above the rest of the room.
Create lighting zones
While, one of the key advantages of an open plan area, is that with minimal walls to get in the way natural light can permeate from windows throughout the entire space. When evening draws in you are still going to be relying on artificial means to illuminate your home.
Lighting needs to be a careful consideration in particular for open plan living. The trick is to break lighting up into areas and ensure it’s spread across ample circuits, that way someone can be using bright task lighting in the kitchen to cook or clean, while the rest of the household can unwind, watching a film or drinking wine and conversing to more ambient lighting else where in the room.
Go for half walls
A half wall, also known as a knee wall, can be a great way to partition smaller dedicated areas within an open living space. They work particularly well to divide kitchen and dining areas away from living spaces. but can also be used to create ‘quiet time’ areas, offices or libraries.