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how to design an open space

Open plan kitchen and living room with a BIM model for download

How to design an open plan kitchen and living room from space arrangement to ideas and examples

Today there is an increasing demand for the design of unique, open and fluid spaces.

In this article we weill focus on how to design a kitchen-living room open space: advantages, disadvantages and useful tips to have a proportionate and functional space that complies with current regulations.

I will also provide you with some diagrams, examples and the 3D file of the design of an open space that I created with 3D/BIM building design software.


How to design an open plan with Edificius

The image above gives you an idea of the astonishing result!

Feel free to download the example of an open plan kitchen and living room design and get familiar with how easy it is to get photorealistic images just like the one shared with you.

Open plan kitchen and living room layouts and types

Open plan kitchen and living room is a popular design choice for modern homes where barriers, such as walls and doors, are eliminated and distinct functional areas are integrated into a single shared space.

The open plan kitchen and living room describes a scenario where:

• existing interior spaces are reconfigured by merging two rooms that were originally conceived as separate
• a single kitchen-living room environment is designed from scratch.

Depending on your needs and the spaces available, it is possible to design an open plan with kitchen and living room that is:

  • fully integrated
  • partially integrated.

In case of pre-existing environments, to obtain an open plan with fully integrated kitchen and living room (diagram 1 – 3) it is necessary to verify that it is possible to completely demolish the partitions separating the two environments.

open space render with Edificius

How to design and open kitchen living room | Render produced with Edificius

In case of frame structures, the actual position of columns should be assessed so as to organize the space, thus avoiding any interference with existing structural elements. Hence, reviewing the building’s structural layout will avoid to come across unexpected events that could compromise the quality and functionality of the spaces to be designed during demolition works.

In case of a structure with load-bearing walls, openings must be designed in sufficiently large rooms to obtain the perception of a single space. Once the feasibility of the intervention has been established, it will be possible to proceed with the project design phase.

Open floor plan kitchen and living room

2D floor kitchen and living room – Scheme 1 | BIM architectural design software Edificius

The great challenge when designing a functional open plan kitchen and living room is to obtain a large but non-dispersive environment that preserves stylistic coherence. If the environment is very large, it is better to avoid false ceiling installation that further lower the inter-floor height, making the environment not proportioned.

Knocking through between an existing kitchen and living room to generate a single environment requires selecting furniture that adapts to different functions. For example, using kitchen islands or peninsulas can result very handy while making an efficient use of the space. In addition, they can work as equipped cooking surfaces, be suitable for dining and also represent a division element between the cooking area and the dining / living area, or serve as a bar counter for breakfast or aperitifs with friends.

Generally speaking, when separating areas, it is advisable not to use furniture that is too high but rather to opt for lighter and more creative solutions. In some cases, in fact, it is also sufficient to just add carpets, low-level furniture and a false ceiling.

Open floor plan living

2D floor plan an open plan – Scheme 2 | BIM architectural design software Edificius

If you prefer to have two adjoining rooms that still maintain some privacy, or if you are facing structural constraints that cannot be overcome, it would be more appropriate to design an open plan with a partially integrated kitchen and living room.

In this case, flexible design solutions can be pursued to guarantee more privacy, when needed. The kitchen and the living area can, for example, be separated by retractable sliding doors or by movable walls. The space thus obtained will be multi-functional and adaptable to any type of situation.

This instance is shown in diagram 2. The kitchen and living room are separated by a low wall that works as a supporting element both to the kitchen and the sofa in the relaxation area. The two functions are contiguous and connected but retain a certain visual privacy, developing along two opposite perspective directions. Specifically, furnishings are positioned along the back (kitchen and sofa), so that those using them at the same time, look at opposite sides of the room, avoiding mutual visual interference.

Open floor plan kitchen and living

Design an open space – Scheme 3 | Fully integrated kitchen and living room

Scheme 3 represents the case of an open space project with fully integrated functions. The environment is a single space and the characteristics of the different areas are determined by furnishing elements. The wall, which is equipped with shelves and tv furniture, defines the areas space and connects them perfectly.

Designing an open plan: pros and cons

A multi-functional open plan kitchen and living room allows for many household activities and cretaes a family friendly environment. Now people want the kitchen to be an active part of their home, and open concept kitchen are by far a very popular choice today.

Pros of an open plan kitchen and living room, that can be managed during planning phase, are:

  • brighter environments
  • space optimization
  • more usable and functional spaces
  • greater sharing and interaction between users
  • more flexible, dynamic and modern spaces.
open space project - interior render

Open space project | interior render

Cons of an open plan kitchen and living room are:

  • lack of privacy
  • less vertical partitions to place furniture
  • interference between different domestic activities
  • spread of noises, smell and fumes from the kitchen throughout the living area.

Finding creative solutions that can enhance quality and reduce cons will be a major challenge for the designer.

5  fundamental rules to design an open plan kitchen and living room

Summarizing, here is a list of some good design rules to consider when designing an open plan:

  • prefer multi-functional furnishings that adapt to a practical kitchen and are consistent with the style chosen
  • create a fluid space characterized by movable elements (doors or walls)
  • differentiate the various areas of the open plan (reading area, relaxation area, dining room, kitchen, etc.) with false ceilings, low-level furniture or carpets
  • in the event of renovation, verify the position of existing structural elements (columns, beams, load-bearing walls, etc.) to avoid unexpected interference during works.

A pratical example

The case study below is a practical example that can guide you when designing an open plan. Let’s suppose we have a space with a rectangular floor plan and access on the long side, located in a central position.

How to design an open plan dining

Open plan design | Floor plan

Since the entrance naturally divides the whole space into two areas, we have a kitchen on the right and the living area on the opposite side. The kitchen is located on the longer side of the floor plan and has a parallel multifunctional island. The L-shaped island has a wooden top that can be used for dining.

How tod esign an open plan dining, cross section made with Edificius

Open plan design | cross section

Along the kitchen opposite wall, there is a wall equipped with built-in wardrobes that offer wide room for storing food, small appliances and dishes. The wardrobes also develop towards the living area, creating continuity between the kitchen area and the living area. A resin fireplace with cement effect, a white leather sofa and a large glass dining table are the main elements of the living area. The large full-height windows give a modern touch to the whole environment.


Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file) of an open kitchen living room

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