Open plan kitchen design

Published in Utopia Kitchen and Bathroom magazineUtopia Kitchen and Bathroom cover

Dear Margaret… We have a holiday house with a 3×2m open plan kitchen that receives no natural light and is fully tiled with boring, beige tiles. It is situated in a key traffic area between the front door, lounge and corridor to the bedrooms. We enjoy cooking and entertaining, so need a functional kitchen design – even if it is compact – but would like to build in a bit of wow factor. Your advice would be very much appreciated. Barry Gray, via email  

Open plan kitchen - view 1The Challenge…

The obvious challenge here is the limited space that you have to work with, and the position of the kitchen, which is by a thoroughfare between other rooms. The fact that there is no window need not be a problem in a space like this, as it can collect light from adjacent areas.

I have situated the worktops to either side of the room for the best use of the natural light entering the room. This way, you won’t be standing with your back to the light as you were before, casting shadows over the workspace. Lighting sources are hidden in the ceiling, allowing illumination to shine down the wall, giving a more diffused and natural-feeling type of light, which is essential here because there is no window.

All of the appliances and storage facilities fit against the wall around the edge of the room. I chose white cupboard fronts with a handle-less style for a sleek finish that keeps the space feeling light, airy and elegant. Using them wall to ceiling not only avoids a cluttered appearance, but allows oodles more to be stored!

Open plan kitchen - view 2Separating open plan kitchen from the living area – the design…

To visually separate the open plan kitchen from the living area, I used a small breakfast bar, under which the barstools fit. This provides added workspace and a place to eat, while neatly containing the kitchen space and keeping any through traffic out. The room is organised into distinct areas: a storage wall which includes the fridge; a preparation zone with a sink; the cooking area with hob; and a breakfast bar to enclose the space. This gives the kitchen structure and makes it a functional, enjoyable place to cook.

Adding a design wow factor to the kitchen…

To give the wow-factor, I used a glass wall that is illuminated from the ceiling and becomes the focal point of the open plan kitchen; its natural tones give the kitchen warmth and make it more lively.

Open plan kitchen design - Light coloured kitchenWhite-finish kitchen appliances…

When it comes to appliances, I would suggest that you opt for one of the new white finish ovens and hobs (from firms such as Küppersbusch, De Dietrich or Miele) to enhance the smooth facades of the white wall and work surfaces. All other appliances are fully integrated behind cabinetry for a seamless look. Consider choosing a multifunction oven that combines steam and microwave functions to save on space. An induction hob would provide a sleeker profile than a gas cooktop with its associated pan supports. Meanwhile, a decorative extractor that doesn’t appear to loom overhead or one that fades into the colour of the wall behind would be best to help maintain a spacious feel. For the sink, I suggest you pick a streamlined model, possibly with the option of chopping board to cover it when not in use – this way you can make use of the extra prepping space when needed.

All important kitchen storage…

Even though it is a petite kitchen, there is still an abundance of storage facilities. The incorporation of lots of drawers and cabinets is vital in a smaller space, because there are less work surfaces to use for display. In any case, cluttered worktops make a room look smaller and leave little room in which to work!

Small kitchen design tips:
  • Choose pale coloured surfaces to create an airy feel, especially for work surfaces and any wall units at eye level or above.
  • To add the wow-factor, a bold feature on one wall will work better than lots of different decoration in a small kitchen.
 Open plan kitchen design

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