Case Study: Artist Tara Leaver, Project: An open plan kitchen diner
In the first post of the Soulful Home Series, I asked Tara What makes a soulful home? ......
“A soulful home to me is a sanctuary that reflects and supports who I am at the deepest level, how I live day to day, and how I want to spend my life. I think it’s about choosing what makes you feel happy as well as working with the way you use the space.
It’s nothing to do with trends and everything to do with what I think of as an ‘honest’ lifestyle - it fits you perfectly because it’s an extension of who you really are, even - in fact especially - when that means accommodating funny little quirks and design choices. I suppose it’s the very definition of a comfort zone! ”
With this answer in mind, our first interior design meeting explored Taras hopes for her homes transformation, including some probing questions on her priorities, daily habits and work-from-home preferences.
The open plan kitchen diner was a big feature and had a long list of must-haves that made this space the hardest to design....and even though we knocked two rooms together, the space had to work hard to provide the right solutions.
Are you planning an open plan kitchen diner? Do you have a relatively small space but still want to fit everything in?
Thats exactly the problem that Tara faced in her clifftop barn conversion until we identified these 10 ways to maximise the space.
This was the BEFORE layout:
10 ways to maximise an open plan kitchen diner:
- Consider choosing built-in bench seating to save space. Make sure to include the right size table that both fits the space well and provides enough seating without dominating the room.
2. Prioritise the space according to your own daily habits and personal preferences to increase usability. We decided to squeeze the built-in bench seat into the recess behind the double external doors even though (controversially) it meant that the table jutted into the doorway. We decided that there was still plenty of room to access the garden and that Tara would be able to enjoy the view even more whilst sitting in the cozy nook.
3. Design the kitchen around practicalities first, and aesthetics second. Make a list of everything that needs to live in your new kitchen, notice how you like to cook and what grievances you have in your current layout. Pay your local kitchen showroom a visit and ask to have a look at all of the internal cupboard and drawer storage solutions to find the ones that suit your needs most. (It is quite common for kitchen designers to add these details by default but there are often more to choose from, so do ask). We doubled up on storage by adding cupboards on each side of the peninsular.
4. Enhance the feel of space by using visual trickery. We used this method in the porch by continuing the bench seat into the breakfast room area, drawing the eye across the space and into the kitchen. This makes the small entrance feel wider than it really is .
The bench also provides a useful nook for bags on their way in, or out of, the house. By keeping the wall above the bench free from hooks, cupboards or additional clutter, it also (visually) widens the entrance into the breakfast room.
5. Add multiple areas to sit – By diversifying the seating options, a small space is able to offer much needed changes of perspective. Taras kitchen/breakfast area has two seating options, providing guests a closer seat to the kitchen or Tara with a different view to enjoy her morning coffee.
6. Minimise the use of wall cabinets where possible and match the door colour to the walls in order to help them to 'disappear' which will make the space feel bigger. We have included wall cabinets on one wall only and added a shelf for extra interest and added storage.
7. Define 'zones' with lighting. We have designed the kitchen and breakfast room area with simple ceiling spots, which are enough to illuminate the worktop while cooking. However, when the spots are dimmed, the additional, more aesthetic pendant lighting over the peninsular and breakfast table provide successful 'zoning'.
These light sources act to both separate these areas when used in isolation, or to enlarge the entire area when used in conjunction with each other. This offers a sociable function to the space as well as providing an intimate, more relaxing option as well .
8. Streamline the look by keeping everything integrated including the fridge freezer, washing machine, dishwasher and bin for a clean, neat finish. We have also hidden the extractor in a wall cupboard to avoid creating a clunky focal point.
9. A simple design scheme creates better flow – we have kept everything really fresh with warm white walls, natural flooring and worktops, white shaker cabinets and a soft patterned tile to carry the eye around the kitchen easily.
10. Maximise outside access and views to increase both visual and usable space
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