We love cute and cosy rooms, the kind that are so warm and welcoming all you want to do is slip onto the couch, pull a blanket up to your chin and snuggle until hiding from the world is no longer possible (grrrr). However, we don’t think every room should be like this. No. Just the odd room. Just the snug, where you can go to escape with that book you didn’t start last summer. For everywhere else, nothing is more alluring and contemporary than knocking through walls to create one big open plan living area for all to enjoy – it’s what creates the illusion of space and fills a home with bright and natural light.
Of course, not all open plan conversions are born equal. We know. It’s boring, but there are little things worth considering before you buy a sledgehammer, contact a contractor, find a builders waste removal company and start going hell for leather. It’s things like what sort of open plan you want, knowing your needs, what you can afford to do and whether it will add value to your home.
Adding space was once exclusive to loft conversions, basement remodels and extensions. But not anymore. Open plan is the new way to add more home to your home and, above all else, give it some wow-factor. And here are some top tips to help you:
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Your Home
To go open plan, there’s a 90% chance you’re going to have to remove a wall and, to do this, you need to work out if it’s load-bearing. If it is, you’re probably going to need to insert a steel beam to take the weight of the missing wall. This is not something we recommend doing yourself, even if you have a friend present. Thankfully, this isn’t a tough job for a professional contractor. In fact, with the help of a structural engineer, it’s totally possible to make any home open plan.
Don’t Just Think About Yourself
If you’re lucky enough to live in a detached mansion with a mile long drive, you won’t have to worry about anything but your own fabulous home. However, if like most people, you live in a lovely terraced home or a gorgeous city apartment, you’ll need to think carefully – and professionally – about whether your open plan alterations will affect your neighbor’s properties too. This isn’t just courteous or polite – it’s to do with safety, so make sure your structural engineer or contractor is experienced in this kind of project and your neighbors have been informed the work is safe before you go ahead.
Think Ahead In Terms Of Function
There is a reason why your knocking down a couple of walls and making two rooms into one – or even three into one – and it’s all to do with creating that illusion of more space, opening up your home to make it more stylish and practical, and to create a better flow in every sense of the word. It could be the flow of light or sense of space – it all comes from open-plan living. However, before you start knocking down this wall and tearing down that, make sure you have a pretty solid understanding of how you will use your space both now and in the future. Think about how you will furnish it, where your sofa will go if you’ll have a television in this room, whether there will be a floating wall that you can draw out to corner off somewhere and all of that stuff. The more you can address now the better your chances of making this room perfect.
Think About The Natural Light
Another reason people take on a wall-removal project is to let more natural light flood into their home. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t as easy as just knocking down any old partition. Nope. Instead, you need to think carefully about how the light in your home will fall in your new open plan space. Sure, light may flood into one part of your new living area, but what about the other end, which will probably be darker? Will you be okay with this, or will you want to tackle that too? It could be more windows, or skylights, or creating a big through-room, all of which will require a little bit of thought when it comes to your privacy.
Think About Your Open Plan Zones
An open plan living space still needs to have zones. You need to think about how you will break your one big space into the three main downstairs areas that most homes have: the kitchen, the living room and the dining area. This needs careful consideration when it comes to the physical space and your own lifestyles too. You need to think about how you will move, what will be practical and what will work with the space. After all, you don’t want to put your kitchen slap bang in the middle and run the risk of your children sprinting past you as you’re carrying hot pans full of dinner, and nor do you want to create your TV lounge area in the one corner that gets the most afternoon sun. It’s things like that.
Think About Bills Too
The reason why old houses had lots of smaller rooms was to keep the heat in. That’s what worked most efficiently. It’s a lot easier (and thus cheaper) to heat a smaller room than it is a great big open room, so you need to keep that in mind when are planning this project. A great option is to add underfloor heating, whether that be a wet system that connects to your gas supply or an electric system that you flick on and off at a switch. Not only will this heat your space from the floor up, you’ll also be able to get rid of any radiators, which will free up extra inches and create a more seamless-slash-stylish look.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about, but it will make things go a million times smoother.