photo of open plan home

When your house has the wrong sort of space (and what to do about it)

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been to see about a dozen people to help them solve the same kind of problem. All the houses had a series of small-ish rooms that felt dark and disconnected from other parts of the house and had limited access to the garden.

Basically each homeowner had the issue of either a lack of space or just the wrong sort of space, which meant the house just didn’t work for them and their families. Most of the people I saw wanted a lighter more open-plan living space and there are always some common elements to achieving this.

before and after photos of a remodeled home by CARL Architect

Here’s a list of my 10 design principles and considerations for creating an open plan space.
  1. Flow: in an open-plan design, it’s essential to maintain a natural flow between spaces. This can be achieved by carefully considering the furniture layout and features like kitchen islands, which can help guide movement through the space.
  2. Zones: despite the openness, it’s crucial to clearly define each area – the kitchen, dining area, and living space. This can be done by strategically placing furniture, using different lighting schemes, or using rugs to mark out other areas visually.
  3. Lighting: natural light plays a vital role in open-plan spaces. Consider where the light enters the room throughout the day and design your space around it. For instance, place the area you occupy in the morning near a window to maximise the morning light.
  4. Storage: adequate storage is essential, especially in the kitchen. Clever storage solutions like built-in cabinets or multifunctional furniture helps keep the space tidy and can maintain a minimalist, ‘clean’ feeling.
  5. Colour scheme: a harmonious colour scheme can help tie the different areas together. Use different shades of the same colour in each area or use a neutral palette with pops of colour to define areas.
  6. Acoustics: open spaces can be noisy, so consider materials and elements that can absorb sound, like a rug in the living area or fabric-covered seating.
  7. Flexibility: design the space to be easily rearranged for different uses. This might involve choosing lightweight or movable furniture or incorporating versatile elements like pocket doors or even a kitchen island on wheels.
For house extensions:
  1. Connection to outdoors: try incorporating large windows or sliding doors that connect the interior with the exterior, making the space feel larger and bringing in natural light.
  2. Planning & Building Regulations: before starting the project, ensure you know all the consents you must comply with.
  3. Hiring Professionals: for a house extension, it’s almost always necessary to hire professionals like architects, contractors, and possibly structural engineers to ensure the extension is safe and structurally sound.

Despite the common themes, I always remember that every home and family is unique, so it’s essential to consider people’s individual needs and preferences when designing their space. My job is to create a functional, comfortable space so that you and your family Love Coming Home.

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