There are lots of beautiful benefits of open planning: increased light, a sense of openness and space, the cook is not separate from the living room, it lends itself to entertaining…. However, speaking from personal experience – I have lived in two open-plan houses – I’ve found 3 problems with open-plan or loft-living. And you can’t see it from the glamorous photographs of such places. The problems are:
- Untidyness: there is no one room in which to hide the flotsam and jetsom of daily living. Something on a flat surface making it look untidy is effectively making all three spaces (cooking/eating/sitting) untidy at the same time. I haven’t yet solved this myself, but investing in storage furniture is a help, and especially using smart storage solutions in the kitchen area which also look appealing to you.
- Smell: burnt the dinner? That smell will now drift across the dining area and into your sitting room also. Opening windows and emptying bins frequently helps, as well as an extractor fan working well.
- Noise: this is the real downside. Especially if you share the space with other people. But even if you live on your own, the important thing is the noise of your kitchen appliances. I once lived in a very swish (rented) house where they had skimped on the cooker – result: a huge, generous, glorious living space dominated by a prima donna oven which sounded like a Boeing 747 engine. When the oven was on, the television sound had to be cranked up substantially and phone calls were impossible. Two simple strategies (yes, involving money but trust me, it’s worth it): (a) buy kitchen appliances on the basis of lowest decibel levels while working and (b) invest in a cordless headphone set which can plug into your television. This last item means the living space can be peacefully shared with someone viewing loud sports events/computer games/Second World War Movies and someone sitting quietly doing a crossword. It is also a real help to keep the peace if one person’s hearing means the TV is put up too loudly for others sharing the space. Simply let the hard of hearing person have the headphones and listen at a level which is right for them, without deafening everyone else.