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Breaking up is easy to do

Broken plan is a welcome tweaking of open plan to provide areas of peace and order without boxing anyone in. It is having-your-cake-and-eating-it between total openness and full compartmentalisation. Alcoves are a useful start. They sequence the space into different zones that allow people to do whatever they want to do in the kitchen with a degree of privacy.

double sided cupboard room divider

Double sided cupboard as a room divider

We've found that the rooms closed off in traditional houses to preserve warmth and privacy no longer work for us as lifestyle changes have brought informality and the desire to move freely around. Technology has turbocharged this process. There is now a sense that you can do anything anywhere as long as you have your device with you. A laptop, phone or tablet is your book, writing desk, TV telephone, camera, portal to the world.

At Johnny Grey Studios we are busy modifying open plan living on the understanding that people feel an emotional need to hunker down in cozy spaces. Any medium to large open plan interior can become broken plan through the use of double sided screens. These might keep the entrance area just outside a main kitchen space while maximising ease of bringing in your shopping. We have taken out corridors and exposed staircases, using the underneath for storage like Japanese tonsus (modular cabinets, often stepped). The extra space gained means you may have room for an island or a big tables and increased circulation.

An exciting new option is linked tables as alternative to islands. On these can sit one or battery-charged induction hobs, which allow you to cook on any surface. With their smart functions these new hobs can also be placed in an alcove or annex as a backup cooking area. They can be used for precision cooking that is safer around small children and for those with memory issues. No more burnt food and crusty saucepans; less cluttered hobs at mealtimes.

kitchen within a kitchen

Kitchen within a kitchen for messy cooking

Here are a few tips that fall within the scope of breaking up the kitchen space into virtual rooms:

1. Culinary area. Keeping this fairly tight is no disadvantage.

2. Storage. Ideally this would be a walk-in pantry that storage pressure off the cabinetry in the rest of the room leaving more space for social used which are:

3. The table area. What makes a kitchen a social space is being able to sit down, with others at times, back-protected and - hopefully - looking out at the garden or urban view. Placing the table in the arc of sunlight across the room ensures that it is a popular place to sit.

4. Sofa or other soft seating. Ideally this is near a fireplace or woodburner, and maybe a TV to offer living room functions in the kitchen - most useful for parents with young children. A toy cupboard might be needed too.

5. Second table or central island that accommodates entertainment and home-working activities.

6. Space for special family furniture like a dresser.

7. Administrative alcove for office work in the home.

8. Dog zone with a good quality cushion.

Staircase as decoration

Staircase as decoration


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