It seems to us that the world can generally be divided into two camps; those who like open plan homes, and those who don’t. We’ve written ad nauseam about family space and kitchens as a combined space, but what we’re talking about here is much more extreme with the kitchen, informal and formal dining, and lounge all as one space.
This style of living is reminiscent of apartment living so more often than not, it’s encountered in continental Europe than in the UK. Although, saying that, it appears that a select few in the UK love to live like this. We’ve now got a growing number of clients who have commissioned us to open up their houses by removing most of the walls on the ground floor. Sometimes, even the staircase is included in this space as well. From a living point of view, if you are considering this, you have to think about noise emanating from other members of the family or guests, odours from cooking, heating all the spaces to the same temperature etc. From our point of view, we have to consider the structural implications of removing so many internal walls and the regulations regarding escape in the event of fire.
If you’re considering such alterations, you might want to consider having a separate ‘snug’ to retreat to when the need arises and, in my opinion most essentially, a utility room to house any noisy equipment. The design of such open plan spaces has to be carefully planned because less wall space means less perimeter for furniture, including small wall cupboards, that means that more floor space is generally required than if you had a more traditional cellular house layout. One big consideration is resale value, I can’t comment on what effect such alterations would have on the value of your house, but I can say that these days more emphasis is put on the quantity of floor area, not just how many reception rooms you have. Furthermore ‘you only sell your house once’, so as long as you can attract that one buyer who loves what you have created, you might sell it.
Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.