Need tips on how to design the perfect open-plan dining space? Here are 21 open-plan dining and kitchen ideas to get you started.
If you want to create more space and functionality in your home an open plan dining room is a modern solution. Whether you’re in the planning stages or still weighing up the pros and cons, these open-concept dining areas will help you build an open plan design that suits your needs and personal style.
Are open-plan kitchens a good idea?
You might still be weighing up whether open plan living is right for you.
There’s lots of pros to an open-plan dining area, even in small spaces. An open-plan kitchen can become the hub of the home, bringing all family members together. The kids have a space to do homework while dinner is cooking, and you have a place to lounge while someone else cleans the dishes!
An open-plan space helps you keep an eye on little ones and they’re also a perfect entertaining space for work colleagues and friends.
What are some disadvantages of an open kitchen plan?
Remember that rolling a kitchen, dining and living room into one means that it’s difficult to filter out noise. If you’re trying to watch tv then the clatter and bubble of pots and pans might be distracting. Equally, you’ll have to live with the blare of cartoons from the living space.
And there’s no escaping the sight of unwashed dishes!
Open-plan dining designs are also costly, which you’ll need to factor into your budget.
Will an open plan kitchen and dining room add value to a house?
Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, open-plan kitchen/dining rooms offer a big return on investment. Many buyers are looking for modern, multifunctional spaces when buying family homes. Alongside loft conversions, an open plan kitchen design comes out top on home buyers’ wishlists.
This alone may be reason enough to cancel out some of the cons of an open-plan dining room.
Now that you’re aware of the types of open plan kitchen design and know the pros and cons, let’s dive into our top tips for a multi-functional dining space.
Customise an open plan space that suits your needs
The first thing you need to consider is choosing a dining area layout that suits your lifestyle. Do you have kids or live alone? How often do you entertain guests?
It’s important that units and furniture don’t impede the flow of who is using your open-plan space.
It’s also worth considering whether you want noisy appliances like washing machines in the kitchen or whether you’ll put them in a separate utility room. It might get hard to watch TV over a noisy spin cycle!
An alternative is to look for low-noise appliances.
Choose a simple open-plan kitchen for visual harmony
Open plan living is a practical solution that combines two spaces in the same space without sacrificing function. However, the best-combined dining area and living space feel cohesive.
A simple kitchen layout and neutral colour scheme will help you create distinct dining zones that work in harmony with your overall theme.
Consider pairing sleek kitchen units in a neutral colour with the simple, clean lines of mid-century modern furniture. Contemporary dining chairs with cut-out details pair well with minimalist kitchen units. Once you’ve determined your base use throws, scatter cushions and pendant lighting to add accent colours and shapes for visual interest. The colour and pattern of your soft furnishings can be repeated in your kitchen appliances and towels to create further cohesion.
Stainless steel appliances are a failsafe option to keep your open plan kitchen chic and simple.
Broken-plan layout vs. open-plan
Broken-plan kitchens have the open and modern feel of an open-plan layout but with more zones and nooks.
Creating different ‘zones’ in your open plan kitchen means you have space to cook, relax and even study or work without sacrificing style and spaciousness.
Broken-plan kitchens offer a stylish compromise between socialising and privacy. Half-walls, glass-panelled screens and floor to ceiling shelving are clever ways to create zones in your dining area.
The rise of home-working after the Covid-19 pandemic has got more people questioning the functionality of their living space. With most of us spending more time at home than ever before its even more important to make our dining areas welcoming, multi-functional spaces we want to spend time in.
Consider a U-shaped kitchen for harmonious flow
Your open-plan space might benefit from a U-shaped kitchen.
U-shaped kitchens offer plenty of cabinet storage for all your pots and pans, and in open-plan homes, one ‘arm of the ‘U’ can become a peninsula accessible by both the dining and kitchen areas.
In small spaces shape open shelves into the eaves. Rather than looking crammed the opposite is true in open plan kitchens, creating an illusion of bright and airy spaciousness.
You could turn one of the U-shaped units into a wine rack that faces into the dining areas for an easy to reach top-up! A peninsula can also be a great way to separate hungry diners from the cook without killing conversation.
Consider all angles and edges in your open plan scheme. Curved cabinets will promote space flow and help redirect traffic (i.e. playing children!) away from dangerous areas like the hob. Curved units are also safer than sharp corners and edges.
Prioritise safety with your floor-plan
Most open plan kitchen ideas require knocking down a wall and planning permission. Even if your dream open plan kitchen doesn’t require planning permission it will need to comply with building regulations. Your local planning office will be able to advise you on how to proceed.
Careful planning will ensure safety while maximising space. Things you ought to consider are:
- Primary and secondary fire escape routes
- Kitchen ventilation
- If you will need a sprinkler system
Choose the right colour for your open-plan space
Colour is the most important factor after considering the kitchen layout.
No one wants a bland open layout but too many competing colours result in a disjointed space.
One option is a neutral backdrop in white, cream or light grey. Onto this blank canvas you can build layers of colour and texture with your furniture and accessories. For example, these patterned bar stools with elegantly tapered legs.
Bright accent cushions and textured wallpaper in the living space will bring your open concept to life. In the kitchen play with patterned china or a boldly tiled backsplash. Classic cabinetry painted in an accent colour can unify your look.
When it comes to kitchen islands and your storage unit a dark shade can feel rich, cosy and welcoming.
Architectural features are another place to play with colour in open-plan kitchens. Large windows, glass doors and ceiling beams can mark a colour transition. For example, painting window frames or the ceiling a different shade from the walls will break up a monochromatic look.
Open plan kitchen flooring
In an open concept, the flooring will remain the same throughout cooking spaces, dining and living area. Therefore it’s important to pick flooring that will work in all ‘zones’ and bring a sense of unity.
The kitchen floor must be hard-wearing and practical, built to withstand spills and splashes. However, you could opt for a tiled section in your kitchen area. If you choose wood, add a textured rug in the living area to create warmth and cosiness.
Ideas for open plan layouts with limited space
Using a galley kitchen layout in an open plan room can offer the best of both worlds. On one hand, you have the efficiency galley kitchens are known for with the sociability of combined dining and living spaces.
A galley kitchen layout is perfect for small open plan living. If your space is narrow keep units sleek and streamlined. This will create a feeling of space and brightness, and encourage flow from one zone to the next.
In a large space, you can create a galley kitchen by using a kitchen island. Place wall-hugging units parallel to the kitchen diner to create a galley effect. Open-plan kitchens with a galley design have it all; streamlined surfaces and integrated appliances for cooking, a breakfast bar for quick, casual meals and lots of room beyond for curling up on a cosy sofa or entertaining dinner guests.
How to divide your open-plan space into distinct zones
There are lots of clever ways to divide your open-plan kitchen into different zones.
Sliding doors are a great way to separate a dining area from a living area and create a little more privacy.
Sometimes an open plan can feel too expansive and empty. This is when careful furniture arrangement can define a space’s purpose. A round table off the kitchen, for example, will create a cosy, informal dining area for family breakfasts. Bookcases with open shelving make great substitutes for sliding doors, helping to divide the dining and living spaces without breaking the flow of the room.
A beaded curtain or light, lace curtain is another way to zone off your open plan layout without needing planning permission to build a new wall.
Consider laying a statement rug under your dining table or sofa to divide a large room into small spaces. Artwork can also add personality and signify a different zone of the house.
A single wall kitchen will fit any open plan dining room
Single wall open plan kitchens produce a clean look and work in any size of open plan room. They create a compact cooking area and minimal aesthetic.
Shaker styles with dark wood and cabinetry create a homely feel without looking overbearing. Their symmetry and traditional style make them a timeless option for your open plan kitchen.
Single wall units and integrated devices create a contemporary and sleek look where everything you need is to hand. Adding a hot water tap is a clever and highly practical way to reduce clutter and streamline the process of adding boiling water to pans or simply making your daily cuppa.
What worktops work for an open plan kitchen and dining room?
Finding the best kitchen worktops and cabinets for your open layout is a blend of practicality, personal style and them you’ve chosen for the rest of your open space.
Stained wood worktops will suit a modern rustic dining area while white-painted wood creates a fresh, feminine and bright space.
Wall units, the central island, counter space, and storage units also need to be considered. How much storage do you need? What integrated appliances must be accounted for? A kitchen island that works as a breakfast bar and cabinet is a handy space saver.
If you don’t have a large space a separate utility room might be the best option for storing a freezer and washing machine.
Working with a large space? Bigger rooms, such as modern warehouse spaces come with their own challenges. A good rule of thumb is to work with the proportions that already exist within the room.
Chunky breakfast bars or a big kitchen island will work well with vast utilitarian windows. Stainless steel appliances and worktops complete the look. Add a minimal and chic bar stool in a bold, contrasting pattern to complete your kitchen dining room look.
The right window dressings for open-plan kitchens
Natural light is important to making your open plan layout feel spacious and welcoming.
The key thing to remember is to pick window treatments that complement the overall style of your kitchen and dining zone. If you’ve gone for a clean, simple design with an emphasis on natural fabrics then wooden blinds would be more suitable than heavy velvet curtains.
Use curtains in different shades of the same colour as that of your furnishings.
If you’re blessed with French doors sheer linen or lace will let more light in and provide a pleasant view into your outdoor space.
Consider the comfort of your family and guests. Is the dining table or kitchen diner situated in direct sunlight? Intense sun exposure or poorly insulated windows in the winter will make for an uncomfortable experience around the dining table.
Keep it tidy!
Mess in the kitchen and dining areas will quickly spoil open plan living, creating visual clutter and stress.
Provide guests with a smart and uncluttered backdrop to relax in by hiding the working elements of your kitchen behind sleek units.
Don’t be tempted to use the dining table or breakfast bar as a dumping ground either. The beauty of an open space in its spaciousness and elegance. Mounting clutter will turn your open plan kitchen ideas from dream to nightmare if you don’t keep things tidy.
How to light your open-plan dining space
You can use lighting to create different focal points in an open concept kitchen and dining area.
Firstly, identify which areas need specific lighting. The kitchen diner will need plenty of concentrated light for cooking and preparing food while the dining and living areas will benefit from softer mood lighting.
Pendant lights are a super option when wall space is in short supply. Pendant lighting comes in a variety of shapes and materials, so you’re sure to find a style that suits your open concept. Place above your kitchen diner or breakfast bar in groups of three to create a balanced and chic focal point.
A decorative pendant, such as a chandelier, can provide glamour and all-round ambient warmth to the dining or living zone.
Use a skylight for natural light
Another option to bring more light to your open plan is a skylight.
Skylights can transform an open plan dining room by brightening a dingy interior and break up the vast expanse of ceiling.
If you find your furniture design and accents are getting lost in a large, dull room a skylight can dramatically illuminate a dining table or living space.
Best breakfast bar seating
While you’re obsessively collecting open plan kitchen ideas on your Pinterest board, don’t forget some chic bar stools.
Bar stools are an elegant but informal type of seating, perfect for catching up with friends over coffee or perching with a glass of wine as you wait for dinner to cook.
Whether your open plan dining zone is big or small, bar stools are attractive space savers and come in a variety of shapes and styles to suit every home. If you have a traditional country home a bar stool made from solid wood and upholstered in natural linen will be a timeless addition to your open plan kitchen.
A breakfast bar stool in leather will work well in a modern kitchen diner while a velvet bar stool adds a touch of sumptuous elegance.
For a splash of colour try the classic metal bar stool. These cheerful seating options are great for adding an accent colour to your open plan dining space.
Chairs for open plan dining
You can go classic or contemporary with your dining table seating. Keep a white scheme chic and simple with an elegant, tapered chair upholstered in dusky pink or add dignified glamour with a deep-button leather chair.
As mentioned before, creating different zones is essential in an open plan layout. The simple, graceful lines of a high-back dining chair will differentiate your dining and entertaining zone from the living and cooking areas.
If your scheme is dark and minimal these graceful and gothic high-backed dining chairs will add Scandi drama to any dining table.
Open plan kitchen ideas that celebrate original features
An open plan layout is often synonymous with modern living. However, if your home is filled with period details and original features, don’t write off an open plan dining room.
Exposed brick walls, original rafters and angled ceilings add visual interest which can help break up a room. And it’s up to you whether you want to play up the traditional edge or contrast it with modern units and styling.
Victorian homes in particular can benefit from an open plan layout. What was once a rabbit’s warren of various small rooms can be reconfigured into a practical and sociable home. This is where selecting vintage-inspired furniture and fabrics can really shine. A William Morris patterned curtain for example, or reupholstered heirloom armchair will acknowledge your home’s heritage.
An open plan kitchen diner is still possible in a listed building with a small extension. Pick rustic units and add a comfy armchair inspired by traditional furniture to retain your property’s character.
Black open plan kitchen
If you’re blessed with big windows and lots of natural light don’t be afraid to go dark with your cabinetry. Navy blue is particularly striking and also creates a cosy warmth suitable for a communal space.
White open plan kitchen ideas
If you have the opposite problem, try a white kitchen island unit and cabinetry.
White tiles create a beautiful backsplash and work well with a neutral colour scheme. Pops of colour can be added with a velvet bar stool, statement sofa and soft furnishings.
Don’t ignore open kitchen layouts
Whatever you do, don’t give up your open-plan dreams.
Small, narrow kitchens are sometimes the place where open-plan designs come into their own. Awkward corners and angles add visual interest to your home and broken plan layouts offer lots of flexibility for zoning off bigger spaces.
We hope we’ve shown that whatever size of room you’re working with, there’s plenty open plan kitchen ideas that will provide you with a practical, chic solution.