Planning your open-plan space and organising it into different zones is really important.
We spent a lot of time thinking about how we would use the space in the back room, particularly the kitchen, and this has really paid off.
Space should be designed to fit around your lives, not the other way around. Start by making a list of the functions you need in your room, we divided our room into three zones – living, dining and cooking.
We knew we wanted a wine fridge and wrote down when we’d be most likely to use it, which was when we were dining or entertaining. So it made more sense to put the wine fridge in the dining area than in the kitchen, where we’d originally assumed it would go.
The next thing to consider is will you need to use more than one zone together to perform one function?
We knew that we would use the dining area and kitchen together if we had friends over for food so it was important that they worked as one area when we needed them to.
When we had parties we would also use the dining and living areas as one, for entertaining. So it was important that they also worked together as one.
When you’ve worked out the room functions and which zones need to work together the next step is visually marking the space as separate areas.
The easiest way of doing this is with light. By lighting each zone individually you can easily separate them from each other.
We opted for five light zones, all of which are dimmable, to help separate the room (see image below). Light switch 3 controls three pendant lights above the island and light switch 5 merges the inside and out when we’ll have the sliding doors wide open in the Summer evenings.
These all need to be thought out as early as possible as the lights and sockets will need to be included in the first fix electrics.
The placement of our sofa also helped us zone the room.
Because we have an electric recliner sofa we also had an electric socket box fitted in the floor. It was really important that we put this in exactly the right place so we measured out the sofa, television and tv unit and marked them on the walls and floor when the house was still a building site. Now we can recline the sofa and plug in phones, iPads and laptops when we’re on the settee without having any dangerous leads trailing from the walls.
The second way to zone the room is by using rugs to visually mark the space. The one currently under the dining table is just a temporary, cheap, rug from Ikea. It does the job until we get the time to shop around and find the right rug for this space.
We’ve also used a rug to help define the living space
At the kitchen end of the room, the large island in the middle clearly defines this space, and lighting helps to zone it.
To see an excellent example of how lights, rugs and plants have been used to zone a room, look at Instagram to see how Nora, funkis_460, has done it brilliantly. Without any walls this large, open plan, space is clearly defined and looks phenomenal.
These steps will need to be taken as early as possible in the planning stage as light fixings and electric sockets will need to be determined very early on in the renovation. Draw it out on paper and walk around the room to make sure you have enough space to fit in everything you want to.
This may not be the most fun part of a renovation, but it is one of the most crucial steps. It really is worth investing the time and effort in getting this right, as it will make everything else much easier further down the line.