Open-plan living is synonymous with the Australian way of life. But is open plan the be all and end all?
The answer really depends on your home and your climate. If you have the good fortune of owning a home with some heritage you’ll know that the floor plans were heavily influenced by our English architectural ancestry, where rooms needed to be closed off so you can easily heat individual spaces.
These homes have charm and grace and generous proportions even if they aren’t open plan.
If you are blessed with an old-style home, you might ask whether you should pull dividing walls out to create an open plan space to add value and amenity. It may suit you to open up the kitchen to a dining or living space.
It may behove you to open up exterior walls to rear outdoor areas or open spaces, though the best solution to the desire to have a heritage home with a contemporary living arrangement has got to come in a contemporary approach: to attach a new, modern, architectural addition to the rear, creating a clear delineation between old and new.
The beauty of this is the freedom to configure rooms any way you deem appropriate, though it’s often in the myriad choices when designing homes that we can get lost – a process called paralysis by analysis.
The most appropriate approach will change dependent on land size, orientation to sunlight, openness to views, rear outdoor living space, amenity, architectural influence or geographic location. However, a good go-to layout surely opens the floor plan up to connect the whole living space, unimpeded by obstacles both visually and physically.
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That means reducing obstructions inside, keeping furniture at a low level and thinking about the best orientation of your furniture so one space doesn’t affect the views of another.
You can effectively separate areas visually by delineating spaces with “anchors”, such as a well-proportioned rug under the lounge setting, a feature pendant above a dining table, a fireplace or even a piece of art to break up the mass of a common wall.
If you want to have a feeling of connection in an open plan area be sure to think about how you tie the spaces together and how you separate them visually without affecting the feeling of openness that is so desirable in modern, open plan living.
This season’s Block houses are live on Domain: