The argument between what is better: open-plan kitchens and 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.

The Perfect Choice is about Personal Taste

For others, the ideal choice will be a closed plan kitchen. At the end of the day, much like anything to do with home improvements, it’s all about personal taste.

The key 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.

Typical modern open plan kitchen

A Modern Feel

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.

An open plan kitchen or any open plan space is definitely the most contemporary look around.

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 is really up 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’.

For example, although it will never have exactly the same feel as a traditional dining room, you can easily create a dining space that serves as the dining area of an open plan kitchen.

It’s certainly not a DIY activity, and it is always best to employ the services of an interior design professional.

Open plan design

Designate Specific Areas

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, with 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.

Natural Light: The Homeowner’s Dream

Meanwhile, natural light is a homeowner’s dream. It just makes any space seem larger, more comfortable, and more welcoming. This is certainly one area where the open plan beats the 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 for them at all times.

Natural light in kitchen

Make Sure It Isn’t Cold And Characterless

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 an open plan and a 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 smell 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 masterchefs often choose the closed plan option.

Chef's preference? A closed plan kitchen

Do You Want To Have Solitude Or Be Sociable?

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 your 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.

A Closed Plan Kitchen Can Be Stuffy And Hot

Not only that, a closed plan kitchen can get hot very quickly and be extremely stuffy.

The latest ovens do much to keep the heat in the kitchen down

However, without the very latest tech – even though a good exhaust fan can be a great help to divert the hot air away and 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.

Is an Open Plan Kitchen a Good Idea? 

It’s no surprise that an open plan kitchen ranks high on homeowners’ wish-lists for their dining and living spaces.

The open and airy space an open plan kitchen creates really does transform the kitchen and living space.

It creates a multifunctional kitchen and living room space that can take on many forms.

Stylish open plan kitchen design

Open Plan Kitchen Ideas

From a modern rustic dining area to a breakfast bar, separate dining table, or kitchen island, an open plan kitchen will make any large space more welcoming and open up smaller spaces to give them a more modern feel.

Breakfast bars are the ideal addition and give the large space a modern and homely feel.

Breakfast bar in modern kitchen

Is Open Plan Living Really That Functional?

Since the COVID pandemic, when families suddenly found themselves sharing the home for work and school, many have reevaluated what we wanted from our kitchen space.

In truth, the blending of the kitchen as a working space and a social and living space has been going on for yours.

The traditional dining room – although great for formal occasions – is no longer conducive with modern family life.

An Open Plan Kitchen Transforms Living Spaces

Zoning an open plan kitchen is an important consideration.

In days gone by, the dining space tended to be a room in itself – and smaller rooms often each had a particular, distinct function.

But with an open plan kitchen, the kitchen and dining room become one, and a multi-use open plan space is created.

An Open Plan Kitchen Can Be Tailored For Every Lifestyle

Open plan living can cater or a wide range of activities.

Whether it’s socialising or cooking or working from home or chilling in front of the TV, there are no longer any rules.

Modern Open Plan Living

Plan With Your Lifestyle In Mind

A simple piece of good advice is to always plan your open plan kitchen design by totally understanding how you intend to use the space.

The kitchen is often called the ‘hub of the home’ and the ‘heart of the home’. This is true, and it’s also the hardest working space in the home.

So, before you get caught up with decisions about exposed brick walls, a broken plan layout, and how to link the open plan kitchen to the outdoor space, simply take a step back and think carefully about how you are going to use the space.

An Open Plan Kitchen Needs To Function Effortlessly

Ultimately, any open plan kitchen has to function effortlessly.

And it’s the little things that make all the difference…

The Little Details Make All The Difference

Often, it’s the little details that make an open plan kitchen the perfect living space.

It’s things like making the fridge accessible when preparing food; positioning the bin perfectly; and having a special place for your chopping boards and your most-used kitchen utensils that make everything flow.

This is how you create the flawless open plan kitchen and living space.

What’s The Cornerstone Of Perfect Kitchen Design?

Put simply, the cornerstone of perfect kitchen design centres around how successfully you can combine flawless functionality and perfect practicality with your needs, wants, personality – and lifestyle choices.

Naturally, any open plan kitchen is likely to contain a dining area and cooking and preparation area, but it can also include a casual seating area.

Modern kitchen design isn’t just include kitchen units. There is a lot more to it – and many more possibilities these days.

A contemporary style open plan kitchen dining room can be a space for whatever you want it to be.

It can be a social space featuring a central island and wall units.

Central kitchen island in modern kitchen

Entertaining And Socialising

For those who entertain and socialise on a regular basis, you will want to ensure that you have a large amount of prep space, as well as a dining area.

You might also find that having two sinks in different locations will be very useful too.

Not only that, you’ll also want include plenty of spaces for family and guests to sit or stand around.

This is where a kitchen island or breakfast bar can really come into their own.

Open plan living inspiration

Think Outside Of The Box

Any space is in the home can be anything you want it to be.

Naturally, open plan kitchens and open plan living spaces tend to consist of kitchen, dining, and living areas.

Although these are the most obvious things, they are certainly not the only way you can utilise open plan spaces.

The kitchen and dining room can have many uses!

A Play Room, Bar Area Or Utility Room?

Unusual options definitely – but an open plan space could easily incorporate a play room zone for the little ones or a snug, discrete bar area.

Not only that, a dedicated zone could easily be created for use as a utility room.

Home office in kitchen

Incorporate A Home Office Space

With he rise in popularity of working from home, you might want to incorporate a home office space into your open plan kitchen design.

An open plan kitchen could well provide you with the lightest, brightest working space possible in the home.

It could well give you the same feel of the airy modern office – but without the distractions of colleagues all around you, or the frustrations of the commute to and from work.

It will certainly be more comfortable than the typical spare room/study that often becomes the home office in many homes.

What Do You Need To Consider For Home Working?

But what do you need to consider?

If at all possible, you should try to try to create a dedicated work space rather than simply making do with working at the kitchen island – regardless of how comfortable and suitable it might seem as a work station during the day.

Anybody who has worked from home will tell you that it is very important to draw lines between home and work.

This, of course, is sometimes not easy to do as you are literally working from home. However, it’s best to think about how a desk can be slightly set apart in your kitchen design.

It’s important to keep the workplace out of sight and out of mind when you are relaxing.

You also need to think about the practicalities. Noisy appliances or kids running around are both awkward distractions if you are on an important Zoom call.


Keep Distractions And Clutter Out Of The Way

It can be preferable to have a separate utility room.

Often, having a door that shuts is simply the best way to keep things out of sight and mind.

Consider the detrimental effect that clutter can have on any kitchen.

You should definitely think about ways to ensure that such the large open plan space doesn’t get too cluttered and untidy.

Mix and Match Units

Mixing and matching both the size and type you choose can be a great idea.

The best way to do this is to think carefully about what specific requirements you need.

Just as you think about what you want from your dining space and your living space, you also need to think carefully about what you really require from your kitchen units and cupboards.

The Importance of Zones

Whatever your plans are for your open plan kitchen, it important that you have clearly defined areas.

You need to have specific zones for dining, seating, and cooking. The fact that the areas are open doesn’t mean that you can ignore the importance of zoning.

Things To Consider

There are many things to consider with an open plan layout

Kitchen storage ideas are all the more ingenious and imaginative these days.

These can help you create a smart and uncluttered backdrop and ensure that you have your perfect kitchen and dining area in your own home.

What Makes An Open Plan Kitchen Work?

In an open plan kitchen, success really rests on the way that the kitchen, dining and/or living room hang together.

Of course, the design and style of units you choose is another important factor.

Do you opt for a traditional look, a timeless style, or an ultra-modern set-up.

Solid oak or Painted Solid Wood units give a timeless but traditional feel.

However, on the flipside, Handleless High Gloss Gloss Acrylic Colours are great alternatives for a truly stunning look

Can A Small Open Plan Kitchen Work?

Yes, small open plan kitchens can work really well. The absence of walls can make it possible for the light to flow well around the space.

Similarly, U shaped layouts can also work well in smaller spaces. They can offer plenty of workspace. Not only that, the essential hubs of any kitchen – sink, hob, fridge – tend to be close at hand.

Get The Lighting Right

Kitchen lighting is vital, but your requirements and needs should dictate how you go about getting the lighting right in your open plan kitchen.

An open plan layout gives you lots of lighting options.

Task lighting is really important in cooking and food preparation areas. You might want to consider dimmable LEDs so that when you are winding down or socialising, you can create a different vibe and ambience.

An adaptable lighting system will bring you many benefits.

Galley Kitchens

Although you might think that a galley kitchen isn’t the type of kitchen layout that lends itself to open plan living, the layout can actually work really well in an open plan space.

The trick is to maximise the use of the exterior wall – for a sink, appliances, and base and wall units.

This can be blended with a kitchen island directly opposite.

The effect is that the kitchen work area or zone is ‘marked off’ from the rest of the space.

An Open Plan 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.