.For many homeowners, the kitchen is one of their most treasured parts of their house. Unlike in the past, a kitchen is no longer a purely functional space just for cooking and washing. It’s the hub of the home; a place where we come together. However, if your layout is less than ideal, you may be considering making the space larger by knocking through from your dining or living area, to create an open plan space.
Open plan kitchens have become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s no wonder. They provide a space in which to gather – be it for a leisurely family breakfast, or to feel a part of the action when entertaining – rather than locked away in a separate space, slaving over a hot stove!
Choosing to knock two or even three rooms together to create an open plan kitchen and living area provides a space that accommodates the whole family, with zones for cooking, dining, entertaining, and even relaxing or working. It can also offer the benefit of giving more time together back to busy families, as everyone can gather in a single space.
Many of us dream of a large open plan space but feel unsure of what’s involved, or worried that works or costs could spiral out of control.
With that in mind, we bring you our ultimate guide to knocking through to create an open plan kitchen area.
When it comes to kitchen space, an open plan scheme offers an ergonomic layout where your kitchen and dining area are within the same room. Where room allows, the addition of a relaxing space with the inclusion of casual sofas and a television, where children can kick back and relax can create the perfect family hub.
And the simplest way to achieve this for many is to consider knocking through from another room – most usually the dining room.
An open-plan kitchen-diner can also create the illusion of extra space. Fewer separate rooms mean fewer walls, fewer doorways, and a longer run of flooring, making your home seem larger and brighter. Combine with great kitchen units and you’ve got a room which is truly the heart of the home.
Does knocking through from the kitchen add value to a home?
Adding an open plan kitchen diner can undoubtedly add value to your house. In fact, according to research carried out in 2018, knocking through to create an open-plan space can cost just a few thousand but add around £28,417 in value to an average priced London home.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that a new kitchen will generally add around 6% to the value of a home, making it a double win for those with an eye to the future growth of their property.
Open plan kitchens tend to be universally popular too – so in addition to potentially adding to your selling price, they can make your home appealing to a broader audience.
Of course, if you are purely making changes to add more to the value of your property, it can be worth speaking to local estate agents or property experts to get their view on what value your home improvements may add to your selling price.
If your new kitchen diner is being created purely by knocking through internal walls, this will often come under what is known as “permitted development”, meaning that you will not require planning permission to do so.
However, if your property is a listed building, this may not be the case, and planning permission should be sought.
For many who are undertaking kitchen renovations, part of the design may also include building some form of an extension to open up the kitchen – providing more light and potentially more space.
If you are planning a single-storey extension, it’s quite likely that your extension will fall under permitted development if it is less than 3m. But this will depend on the layout of your home – so check the planning portal website or with your planning specialist before starting work.
If you live in a Conservation area or similar your permitted development rights may have been removed, so make sure to check with your local authority.
Additionally, it’s worth bearing in mind that permitted development does not apply to all types of property – flats, maisonettes and other types of building do not have permitted development rights due to the impact alterations would make on neighbouring properties.
In short, while in many cases, planning permission will not be required for your kitchen renovation, it is always wise to check first.
How do I apply for planning permission for a kitchen renovation?
Most planning applications are made to your local authority. You can find out more about what’s required on the government’s planning permission web page. This will give you some general information and provides a link to your local planning authority (LPA).
While it’s relatively easy to find out how to apply, we would always recommend seeking the guidance of experienced professionals before submitting any plans or applications. Having to repeat a process can be both frustrating and costly, particularly in cases where a small error could have easily been avoided.
Before you start knocking through, you will need to find out whether the wall which divides the kitchen and area that you want to knock through to is a load bearing wall, so don’t dig out that sledgehammer just yet!
Internal walls can often play an essential part in the structure of your house, meaning that knocking through them without proper preparation could seriously affect the safety and structure of your home and invalidate your buildings insurance!
In order to identify if your wall is a load bearing wall, your builder, or a structural engineer will check whether the wall supports the weight of any of the roof, the floor, any other walls (e.g. upstairs walls), and even external walls in some cases.
Usually, if removing a load bearing wall, you may need to support the new opening with a rolled steel joist (RSJ).
Building control will usually require that you hire a structural engineer to specify an appropriate beam or lintel. So it’s crucial that you consider this before hiring a builder so that you can provide the right spec for your builders to quote accordingly.
Kitchen extension – building regulations
Building regulations set a minimum standard for the design and construction of buildings to ensure that they are safe for anyone within them.
You apply for building regulations approval through your local authority via a notice application (or plans application for more substantial work).
Not all internal renovation projects require Building Regulations approval. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you are taking out a load bearing wall, or working on chimneys, fireplaces or walls near staircases, the chances are that the alterations will require inspection and approval from your local authority’s building control team.
Suppose work is undertaken without approval and it does not comply with the regulations. In that case, you can be asked to alter or remove it – failure to do so may result in the Local Authority serving a notice on you to do so within 28 days, and you would be liable for all remedial costs. Should you contravene the Regulations by building without notifying the Local Authority or by carrying out work which does not comply, then they can prosecute. If convicted, you are liable to a penalty not exceeding £5,000 plus £50 for each day on which each individual contravention is not put right after the conviction, and if you do not put the work right when asked to do so, the Local Authority has the power to do it themselves and recover the costs from you.
You can find out everything you need to know about building regulations on the government’s Building regulations approval web page. This page provides a comprehensive overview of all types of work covered by building regulations, as well as information on the competent person scheme.
Do I need an architect for a kitchen extension?
The chances are if you are considering a simple extension, or are just knocking through from another room, a good builder should suffice. However, for a more complex space, or if you are looking for something more “out there” an architect can take on either elements such as design and drawings or in many cases can offer a full project solution.
It’s every homeowner’s nightmare – choosing the wrong builder to undertake your works – leaving you at best with substandard work, or at worst with additional costs to put it right.
Choosing the right builder to help you to create your open plan space is absolutely crucial to ensuring that you achieve your vision.
So how can you make sure that you use the right tradespeople to help you to plan your kitchen/diner?
Of course, the best source of finding anyone to undertake work is by personal recommendation, so ask around your friends and family. Or, consider asking online in a local Facebook group or on the Next Door app. However, do be sure to still look at previous work and check online reviews from several sources such as Google, social media, Check A Trade and TrustPilot.
One thing you often find with a good builder is that they may not have immediate availability – but don’t let this put you off. It’s often worth waiting!
Always take a look at a builders previous work where you can. They will often show this on their website or their social media pages. Pay close attention to the quality of the work, and again verify independently if you can.
In addition to verifying the qualifications and experience of your builder, it’s worth thinking about whether you feel comfortable with them. A kitchen renovation can take some time, so think about whether you are going to be happy and feel comfortable with communicating with them over a longer term.
Before starting to plan what goes where, think carefully about how you currently use your kitchen, and even more importantly, how you wish to use it in the future.
If you are planning on a kitchen/diner – what functionality do you want it to serve? Is it space purely for you and your family to cook and eat – or are you planning on entertaining a larger crowd?
Do you want to incorporate soft furnishings such as a sofa, or even a place to watch television within your new open space design?
Are you a whiz when it comes to cooking – and love to have a wealth of gadgets and gizmos on your work surface at all times?
By thinking about how you live, and what purposes your kitchen will serve, you can start to then think about a layout which will work well for you.
Before embarking upon your renovation, some of the important items to consider will include the placing of electrical installations such as lighting, sockets and switches. As these cannot be changed after the design, it’s vital to consider this at the outset. Ditto plumbing – where do you want items such as your washing machine, dishwasher and sink?
Thinking carefully about the location of these items will save you a lifetime of irritation -no one wants to live with an awkwardly placed switch or a socket that is impossible to access.
Zoning your kitchen
Creating zones in your kitchen is an ideal way in which to ensure that you have the appropriate space and layout for the tasks that perform in your kitchen regularly.
Traditionally, kitchen designers worked with three zones – food preparation, cooking and washing. While these are certainly still tasks that usually take place in the heart of the home, there are also several other zones that you may wish to introduce, depending of course on your open plan size.
Creating a flow between zones is what makes a fantastic kitchen aesthetic, so using different colours, materials and lighting can all contribute to how each zone fits together, for example, you can use elements of the wood in your kitchen doors and match them to your dining furniture.
Additionally, think about how your soft furnishing can contribute to zoning the different spaces in the open plan area- more delicate rugs, squishy seating and softer lighting can make your relaxing space feel cosier.
To achieve that desired feeling of space, never try to squeeze too much into a single zone, and be sure to allow enough room that people can move between zones easily and smoothly.
Very often, people choose to create a more open kitchen and living area in order to allow more light into both spaces. However, if you’re also considering extending your kitchen, it can be worth speaking with your architect or builder about additional ways to allow natural light into the kitchen.
If building out a single-storey extension, the addition of skylights is a great way to flood the kitchen with light from above, and with careful positioning of your kitchen furniture can create a stunning way to showcase a kitchen island or specific area.
Fitting bi-fold doors which disappear when folded back to create a clear opening is a great way to blur the boundary between inside and out – creating a feeling of space and freedom in the design. However, adding any type of patio door with a clear view of the outside area can provide lots more light with which to make your kitchen airy.
For those who are not able to increase natural light in the kitchen – choosing gloss or light coloured kitchens is a great way to reflect the light around the space, to provide a feeling of brightness and openness.
Planning your kitchen lighting
Be sure to consider how you wish to use lighting in your kitchen as part of the planning process. After all, you won’t be able to add cabling once everything is installed.
Kitchen designers are becoming increasingly aware of how installing a wide range of lighting in our kitchens can completely transform how the space is used.
For example, kitchens can offer zones by creating different spaces by using different types of lighting such as task lighting for cooking or washing up, mood lighting such as dimmable lamps to allow you to enjoy a softer light to relax or enjoy a glass of wine, and accent lighting such as track lighting or recessed downlighters to highlight kitchen features. You can also eliminate darker spots by adding under cabinet lighting.
The right lighting can mean that your kitchen has several “moods” – the bright, bustling place to cook, the chilled out relaxing space, or the perfectly lit place for the kids to get the homework done.
When considering an open plan living and kitchen space, choosing the best kitchen units for your design is absolutely key.
As a rule, when you have an open plan kitchen and living space, ensuring that worktops are clear and uncluttered is more important than ever – so think carefully about how to maximise your storage. Creative kitchen storage solutions such as corner units with pull-outs, or floor to ceiling units allow you to get the most out of your space.
Flow is also important; the space should feel cohesive without stark boundaries between the different areas. Curved kitchen units can create a seamless feel between the cooking and dining areas, and provide that smooth transition between spaces. They can also subtly direct people away from the cooking space, making them perfect for those who wish to enjoy cooking without interruption.
Choosing handless kitchens is also an excellent option for a knocked through space as it provides more of a blank canvas feel – where the kitchen is not screaming for your attention – and your interior décor can come through.
Best kitchen door colours for open plan living
While décor trends in the living or dining room change, the likelihood is that you will be living with your kitchen units for a long time to come, and therefore it’s wise to think about how your kitchen cabinetry can blend with, not just your current colour scheme, but ones you may want to have in the future.
While neutral kitchen doors are an obvious choice, this certainly doesn’t have to mean “boring”. Consider these smooth shaker doors in stone a timeless favourite.
High gloss kitchen doors can also work exceptionally well in an open plan kitchen/living area thanks to their reflective qualities, and their propensity to match well most modern accessories.
If you love colour in the kitchen, consider going for a more neutral kitchen cabinet, but adding splashes of colour such as coloured splashbacks, or brighter accessories which can be easily changed when your other décor changes.
You can use material and styles to create connections between different spaces – one idea is to take an element of wood grain and match it with your dining or living area furniture. Mix it up a little with a contrasting run of units, to create a more textured effect.
Here at Kitchen Warehouse, we love helping our customers to create the kitchen of their dreams and are always on hand to provide help and advice for those starting a new kitchen project.
If you would like to take a look at our collection in person, just head down to our showroom in Ripon. You can discuss your requirements further with a member of our friendly team while you are there. Alternatively, contact us on 01765 640 000 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.