‘Broken-plan living’ on the rise, say kitchen retailers

Broken-plan living, which sees the kitchen and living areas zoned off, is rising in popularity, according to leading kitchen designers.

Speaking at the kbbreview Retail & Design Conference in Birmingham, kitchen designers revealed that they had seen more spaces closing up.

However, this doesn’t mean that open-plan living is going away any time soon.

“I actually see a lot of spaces closing up,” said Robert Burnett of Holloways of Ludlow. “It’s when they have kids and it becomes about ‘divide and conquer’.”

“I don’t think we will ever go back to completely separate rooms,” added Mark Newbery of Sapphire Spaces in Topsham, Devon. “Yes, there is the danger that you can be too open and definitely, from my experience with kids, it is nice to be able to shut the door.”

When it comes to designing an open-plan kitchen and living area, getting the balance right is crucial.

“It’s trying to look at the whole thing,” explained Newbery. “When we’re looking at open-plan kitchens now, it’s about thinking where are the kids going to do their homework? Where are you going to watch TV? You have to take into account the soft furnishings, the drapes, the curtains, everything comes into it, as opposed to just the old room at the back of the house where you just purely design a kitchen.

“It’s difficult to take the whole thing and make it work and make it aesthetically still look good. We tend to find people are regarding it more now as a piece of furniture, as opposed to just a kitchen. So, the finishes are vital.”

Julie Otulakowski at Arthouse Creative Interiors in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, added that open-plan living can present a challenge to designers as they have to be conscious that nothing dominates the space and that it all harmonises, as well as leaving enough space for the homeowners to move about in.

The growing trend in open-plan living has also created a blurring of lines in what a kitchen designer should be responsible for.

Retailers argued that designers shouldn’t try to be “experts in everything” and that there is nothing wrong in working with other specialists in order to create a fluid design throughout the kitchen and living spaces.

“You can’t dilute your service,” argued Otulakowski. “The key is quality and service, that’s what you’ve got to deliver, and the day you don’t is when things start going wrong. You’ve got to be good at what you do and stick with that. Bring in other professionals and work with them and then clients can come to a one-stop shop, basically. But stick with what you’re good at.”

  • Image from left to right: Robert Burnett, Holloways of Ludlow; Julie Otulakowski, Arthouse Creative Interiors; Mark Newbery, Sapphire Spaces; and Andrew Davies, managing editor, kbbreview
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