Homebuyers have been knocking down walls in pursuit of open-plan living for many years now – but open plan doesn’t work for everyone. As photogenic as it may be, an open-plan layout can create problems for families and groups who need varying things from their space. And with many of us set to work from home for the forseeable future, we’re asking: has open plan had its day?
Not in Shoreditch. Sean Ward of the local Winkworth is seeing a lot of interest in open-plan spaces, mostly from first time buyers and couples. He says: “Open-plan living is quite popular now amongst buyers just for ease. I think in a world now of entertainment and media, it's proving to be an essential aspect for a lot of buyers. I guess because of the rising rents, we are selling quite a lot of properties to first time buyers and couples who like the open plan living as you can cook and entertain in the same room. Also, a lot of new build properties do have open-plan living/kitchen areas, which because they are modern, are quite desirable.”
Traditional Victorian terraced houses make up a large proportion of the UK’s urban stock, and their original layouts have become obsolete as modern life – without servants – has the kitchen at the heart of the home, rather than in a small space at the back of the house. Extending Victorian houses to create large, light-filled kitchens that function as family and entertaining spaces is commonplace, as is knocking through front and back parlours to create large living areas.
Newbuild apartments often feature open-plan living/cooking/dining areas too, although standards obviously vary. Sometimes ‘open-plan’ can be really just a euphemism for ‘tiny’ – because nobody wants to have to listen to the washing machine while watching television. A well thought-out open plan space will always feature a separate utility area, and often a separate TV area and a study too.
Donna Pearson of Winkworth in Canterbury highlights this. “We are finding that there is still a strong demand for the open-plan living concept, perhaps even more so post-lockdown, where friends and family can enjoy sociable gatherings, even better if bifold doors bring the garden into play as well. The demand is there because this living arrangement maximises floor space, and flows much better for family living. Providing there is some private space for either a snug or office I think demand will continue for this set up.”
And there’s the thing. Open plan is definitely here to stay – as long as it’s considered. Clever nooks and considered spaces for desks, home cinema and utilities are key to a successful scheme, and large, light-filled, multi-purpose spaces characterise the contemporary home. Long live open-plan.
Four of the best: open-plan living