When homeowners opt for an extension, many use it to create an open plan space in their home. Open plan has adorned magazines and interior TV shows for some time – it’s like the jeans of the interior world, no matter what the latest trends are, open plan is always at the party. So why has it endured for so long and how do you make the most of open plan living?

While the idea of open plan living has been with us ever since humans started to build permanent structures, it was Frank Lloyd Wright who popularised modern open plan living as we know it today. Wright designed houses in this way so that the housewife would be “more hostess ‘officio’,” instead of being in the kitchen behind closed doors. Of course, in more modern times the simplicity and practicality of such spaces are why they have endured.

A large open space may seem easy to work with, however, it’s not as straightforward as it looks. Here are our top tips on how to make the most of open plan living.

Planning the space

Open plan spaces are never really truly open, there is always something that divides each space for its purpose. When you are creating a kitchen, islands or breakfast bars can be used, not only as a handy storage area and somewhere to eat, but as a border to define where the kitchen begins and ends.

How to make the most of open plan living2

Storage units are also a good way to break up a room. You can use bookcases or shelving units which can act not only as a flexible wall to help you create distinct ‘zones’, but also a design statement in itself.

If you plan on having a lounge area you can use a sofa, chaise lounge and rugs to define the space.


To keep constancy and flow, its best to keep the colour scheme fairly neutral as this gives an easy backdrop to work with. If you want to inject colour you can do so to distinguish individual areas. Patterned wallpaper or tiles also work well. To make this succeed you will need any colour or pattern you choose to work with your natural backdrop or you risk not having a consistent look.


Flooring needs to be practical as well as create a sense of flow. If you have a kitchen in your open space you can opt for wood, stone or tile flooring throughout and soften it with rugs, where needed. Rugs are also helpful for distinguishing different zones.

Another option is to have different flooring levels. Having a step from the kitchen down to the dining or living area helps to break up the room.


Ensuring you have the right kind of lighting for every zone in the room can be difficult as each space requires different kinds and levels of lighting.

In the kitchen you will need bright lights so you can see what you are cooking, so opt for downlighters. For dining spaces, a popular trend right now is for three low pendent lights over a long six to eight seater table. If you have a four seater table, one light will work just as well.

To give soft lighting to lounging areas lamps can be used and if you want to use lighting to define your zones, then spotlights can be very effective.

If you are looking to create your own open plan space with an extension then Simply Extend can help. We are a leading home improvement builder based in London and we have helped create beautiful homes with side and rear extensions. For a no obligation site survey please call on 0800 917 7571 or contact us online.

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