Turn your kitchen into the heart of the home
Gone are the days where the kitchen is a place for simply cooking and preparing meals! In recent years, there’s been a marked rise in the popularity of open-plan living, corresponding to our more informal lifestyles. This move towards free-flowing, multi-functional spaces has meant that the kitchen is no longer cut off from the social areas of the home, but instead has become the hub where everyone comes together. A large, open-plan space in the home encourages socialising with family and friends, even when undertaking different activities. Whether you’re relaxing on the sofa, preparing dinner or doing homework, having everyone being able to enjoy the same space creates a sense of unity and comfort that’s so important nowadays for a family home.
Read on to find out our top tips on how to design a stylish and social open-plan space and transform your kitchen into the heart of the home.
One of the benefits to open-plan spaces is that the room can be divided into zones relatively easy. When designing your open-place kitchen, it’s important to think about your dining, living and entertaining zones and how they will be laid out to work best for you. Each zone should have a purpose, and allow you to focus on a single task at a time without needing to be completely cut off from the rest of the space. For example, if you love entertaining, it’s important to consider where your guests will sit while you cook – you won’t want them on top of you while you create culinary delights, but you’ll want them close enough so the conversation can flow. Equally, if you want to keep an eye on the little ones doing homework while you make dinner, the living space will be an important factor to incorporate so it’s in clear sight from your kitchen station.
In open-plan kitchens and social spaces, the trick is to design each zone so it looks separate, yet works seamlessly with the other areas around it. Rugs and different flooring are a clever way of defining zones in an open place. Perfect for providing an anchor for furniture, rugs can help create a central focus that pieces can be styled around – whether it’s a lounging area with sofas and armchairs or a dining area with a large table and chairs. The positioning of furniture is really key here – by turning sofas and armchairs to face each other either side of a rug, you’ll naturally create a divide from the rest of the room. Lighting can also be another fantastic way of zoning an open-plan kitchen, where the positioning of pendant lights can help lead your eye around the space. For example, a large chandelier set above the dining table not only looks stunning but helps create a focal point around the dining area.
Harmonious colour schemes
Choosing a harmonious colour scheme throughout your kitchen and living space helps ensure the space feels cohesive – seamlessly flowing from one end of the room to the other. Start with a main colour that can be used in key areas throughout the space, and then introduce complementary tones as accents across cupboards, feature walls, seating and crockery. Some of our favourite cohesive kitchen colour schemes include sage greens with creams and greys, pastel blues with deeper navy accents and greys, and a warmer colour scheme involving soft oranges, touches of yellow and cream or white. Remember, the kitchen and dining area is one of the busiest spaces in the home, making it vibrant and full of life. This provides the opportunity to be brave and introduce colour to reflect the energy of the space – kitchens don’t have to be full of neutral tones!
Mix and match
Whilst it’s important to ensure you have a cohesive colour scheme that flows throughout your open-plan space, kitchens and social spaces provide the opportunity to create interest, and be eclectic with your styling. Allow textures and materials to vary across the different zones. Your dining chairs can be a different style and material to your bar stools for example, and you can introduce patterns and colours through accessories such as cushions and throws in your sociable seating area. As long as the overall colour scheme is cohesive, mixing and matching your furniture and accessories allows you to create an inviting space, full of personality.
Comfort is key
Having a variety of seating that is inviting and comfortable is a key part of creating a sociable area in your home. From curvaceous dining chairs and cocooning bar stools to sumptuous sofas and armchairs, creating sociable and comfy seating is the best way to keep everyone chatting for hours on end! By introducing a sink-into-me sofa to the living space, it invites people to spend more time relaxing, instead of going to another part of the house to switch off. If space allows, a corner or L shaped sofa works perfectly in an open-plan kitchen – not only does it help to create a zonal divide, it also provides the perfect place for everyone to sit down together, whilst also chatting to people who are preparing food, or working at the dining table.
Having comfortable dining chairs is a key part of creating a sociable hub in the home. Look for designs with comfy seating and supportive backs, so you can spend all evening chatting over dinner. Another great sociable seating idea is to introduce a number of bar stools around the kitchen island or breakfast bar. This provides the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely breakfast or coffee, or for family members and guests to chat to you while you’re cooking – just remember to position the bar stools away from the main work zone so they don’t get in the way.
As the kitchen is a busy space, full of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s important that your furniture is family-friendly and functional. It’s key to take this into consideration when choosing fabrics to upholster your bar stools, dining chairs and sofas in. Consider hard wearing and durable fabrics, such as our smart cottons and smart velvets, which are designed with busy households and potential spillages in mind. Another great choice for kitchen furniture is our leather fabrics – having leather bar stools is a great point of interest and difference in texture, as well as being easy to wipe clean when needed!
One of the most important parts of creating a sociable space in the home is to add those finishing touches that make the space feel warm and inviting, encouraging people to spend time there. An open-plan kitchen can be visually stunning and multifunctional, but unless those homely creature comforts are present, it can quite often feel cool and harsh. Plants and flowers are a great way to bring life into your open-plan kitchen – they not only introducing a sense of freshness and vitality, but they also add a beautiful pop of colour. Vibrant greens add feelings of growth, harmony and balance to a room, all of which are incredibly important in a kitchen area. Find out more about the benefits of plants here: sofa.com/inspiration-corner/how-plants-create-a-happier-home-exclusive-advice-from-patch-plants/
Finally, ensuring your space is filled with homely finishing touches is the ultimate way to create a home that everyone wants to spend time in. From soft cushions to sink into and cosy throws to curl up under, to artwork that brightens up empty walls, there’s no doubt that these little touches will be exactly what turns your kitchen from a space into the social hub of the home, creating that welcoming ambience that feels like a warm hug on a cold day.