The argument between what is better: open plan kitchens versus closed plan kitchens is an age-old one. The thing is that open plan vs closed plan is really a competition that has no clear winner. Both styles of kitchen have pros and cons depending on the lifestyle you lead and the space you have. For some people, open plan kitchens will be the perfect choice. For others, the ideal choice will be a closed plan kitchen. At the end of the day – much the same as anything to do with home improvements – it’s all about personal taste. The key thing is choosing a kitchen design wisely according to your needs. To help you decide which is best for you, we’ve put together a guide including everything you could ever want to know about open plan kitchens and closed plan kitchens.

Open Plan vs Closed Plan: The basics

First of all, let’s cover the basics. How do you define an open plan kitchen and a closed plan kitchen? In simple terms, an open plan kitchen is a kitchen without walls separating it from the rest of the house. Typically, an open kitchen floor plan will extend into the dining room or living room, creating one open space. Open plan kitchens tend to be associated with contemporary homes. They certainly have a modern feel. Not only does it make open plan designs popular in new builds, they are also a popular choice for homeowners who are considering remodelling their existing kitchen.

On the other hand, closed plan kitchens feature a space that is closed off from the rest of the house, usually by one or two doorways. They are common in older properties. Galley kitchens – another form of closed plan design – are also often seen in older properties. Having said that, you can have an ultra-modern closed plan kitchen as well. The style you have really is down to you.

Open Plan vs Closed Plan: Design considerations

Open plan kitchens are typically viewed as being contemporary in terms of design. Meanwhile, closed plan kitchens are normally associated with more traditional looks. It is difficult – though not impossible – to plan an open plan design into separate spaces. As it is one large area, it can be tricky to design a suitable ‘feel’. It’s certainly not a DIY activity and it is always best to employ the services of an interior design professional. It is important that everything about the entire open plan space is truly cohesive. A good way to signify the particular spaces of the room is to use furniture and fittings to help designate a specific area.

Naturally, it is easier to make individual rooms feel different and distinct with a closed plan design. One advantage of this is that you can give each area a particular theme, design and colour scheme if you want to. Furthermore, a closed plan design the kitchen becomes a completely self-contained and separate space. And that’s exactly how some people want it.

The importance of space and light

It’s no surprise that space and light are big favourites for homeowners. Firstly, you can never really have enough space, can you? Space is always at a premium in the home and only a very fortunate few of us would say we have enough of it. Meanwhile, natural light is a homeowner’s dream. It just makes any space seem larger, comfortable and more welcoming. This is certainly one area where open plan beats closed plan hands down.

However, you always need to think of the practicalities. An open plan design sounds really inviting, and it is. However, if you have little ones running around you might want a design that enables you to maintain a line of sight on them at all times. Furthermore, a poorly designed open plan space can seem cold and characterless. Closed plan designs, while limited in terms of space, can make everywhere seem really warm and cosy. If entertaining is on the agenda and important to your lifestyle, then an open plan design comes into its own once more. It really is a case of considering the style that is going to suit your family, friends and lifestyle.

Sights, smells and sounds

Important things to consider when trying to decide between open plan vs closed plan are the sights, smells and sounds of the house. The kitchen is a very busy part of any home – and busy often means very noisy! The sound of general kitchen activity and food preparation, large appliances and the smells of cooking will fill the room – and an open plan space. Combine this with the added noise from washing machines or dishwashers and it can all add up to a level that isn’t really conducive to relaxed family living. Similarly, if the kitchen becomes untidy it sometimes nice – albeit temporarily – to just shut the door on the mess for a while. You can’t do this if you have gone down the open plan route.

Open plan vs Closed Plan: The home chef’s verdict

When it comes to making a decision between an open plan or a closed plan kitchen, the popular choice of most home chefs. But why is that? Well, there are several reasons why amateur cooks and budding Masterchef often choose the closed plan option. Many chefs like a bit of privacy – even solitude – when they are at work in the kitchen. A separate and dedicated closed plan design offers this. It can be very difficult to achieve with an open plan design. Typically, closed kitchens tend to include more cabinets, units and storage space in general. This can be very handy for the busy home chef who uses many appliances. Finally, if you are a keen chef, dining will be important to you. You may prefer to have a dedicated dining room in the home. In which case, a closed plan design might be the sensible way forward.

Closed plan kitchens – The drawbacks

So, while home chefs might well be drawn to a closed plan kitchen, in the interests of fairness it’s only right that we mention the drawbacks too. Without careful thought, closed plan kitchens are likely to be an inefficient use of space. Similarly, they can be quite stifling in terms of natural light and the flow of air – especially when compared to the alternative of an open floor plan. Not only that, a closed plan kitchen can get hot very quickly and be extremely stuffy. Even though a good exhaust fan can be a great help to divert the hot air away and to cool things down, you then get the added problem of noise. Finally, closed plan kitchens are often not large enough to accommodate a space for sitting and eating. Having said that, a carefully thought-out home improvement project can usually rectify this problem.

An open kitchen: The verdict

In conclusion, open plan kitchens are clear winners in terms of natural flight and airflow around the home. Generally speaking, open plan designs tend to make for a more efficient use of space than their closed plan alternatives. Perhaps the biggest bonus, however, is the fact that they create a wonderful gathering and entertaining area. This is so important for many people these days. Finally, open kitchens expand and open up the living space of a home.

On the downside, an open floor plan brings with it a greater need for tidiness. Remember that a messy and untidy kitchen will be there for all to see. Open plan designs tend to offer less storage space. You usually gain in terms of countertop space, but sometimes lose storage and cabinets. If you have lots of dishes and kitchen appliances, an open plan layout might not be particularly practical. Finally, you need to be extra-careful with any design choices you make. These will be amplified as every choice will be visible for everyone to see in an open plan design.

Get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team if you have any questions about open plan or closed plan kitchens.