The kitchen is, without a doubt, one of the rooms in our homes that has undergone the most fundamental changes over the past two centuries. Kitchens speak volumes about the lifestyles of their inhabitants, fascinatingly reflect the context of the wider world, and demonstrate evolving cultural and social values, behaviors and technological developments.
Throughout history, kitchens have primarily served a practical purpose as spaces for cooking and cleaning. For example, in Georgian properties, the kitchen is often located underground, out of sight and separated from the living quarters. Until the 1950s, family life was formal and visitors to the kitchen were strictly off-limits. The end of World War II caused a major change in existing morals, norms and attitudes towards ideas, laying the foundations for our casual modern culture, and therefore for the kitchen. Fast forward to 2023, and kitchens become makeshift offices, homework stations, and play areas during the day, and places to entertain, socialize, and wine and dine at night.
The layout of your kitchen determines how you live and experience the space, so it should respond to your daily needs and desired lifestyle. An open plan kitchen creates a completely different dynamic than a closed kitchen. That’s why we asked experts for their insight to help you decide which modern kitchen design is right for you.
Advantages and disadvantages of open kitchen
Open plan kitchens are a fairly new phenomenon. The first seeds of this idea were sown around the mid-20th century by influential architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright sought to reinvent domestic architecture to cater to an emerging middle class and new ideas around leisure and convenience.
Angela Hamway from McKenzie & Company says: ‘Open-plan kitchens create a cozy atmosphere by providing a seamless transition between the main living spaces. “It allows for casual dining and conversation, and it also makes entertaining easier.” Kevin Lichten of Lichten Architects agrees: “Instead of thinking about right or wrong, it’s really all about the client’s lifestyle,” he says. “An open-plan kitchen can be more casual and family-friendly if the adjacent space is used for family activities such as watching TV or doing homework.”
Kevin also advocates open-plan living for avid entertainers. “Especially if there’s space for an island where guests can pull up a stool while sipping a glass of wine (or bourbon, if I’m visiting).” Kitchen islands are a popular feature in open-plan kitchen designs, providing additional storage and counter space for appliances and food preparation, additional casual seating, and serving as a central hub of activity.
Open-plan kitchens are a popular solution for making small homes feel larger, as well as making it easier to care for and entertain children. “The floor plan expands and creates the illusion of more square footage,” says Angela. Opening up your space by removing walls allows for better airflow and maximizes natural light, making your room bright and airy.
Although open-plan kitchens are praised, there are some drawbacks to consider. For Angela, the main drawbacks are that “the space is more likely to become cluttered, dirt is more likely to splatter into adjacent spaces, and it requires more maintenance and upkeep.” Likewise, noise and odors can be difficult to control. ” Open-plan layouts also increase design constraints, as finishes and materials need to blend with the rest of the home to create a harmonious flow between the main living spaces.
“Having too many events going on in your home at once can be distracting. It can be confusing and disrupt your focus,” says Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs. I’ll add. However, she admits that the benefits still outweigh the drawbacks, and still favors open-plan designs that make multitasking and socializing easier.
Advantages and disadvantages of closed plan kitchens
Throughout history, kitchens were usually “closed plan”, meaning they were separate rooms cut off from the rest of the house and designed solely for cooking. This kitchen plan is typical of older properties and may have up to two access points, reflecting the formality associated with mealtimes up to the mid-20th century.
In Kevin’s experience, “Closed-plan kitchens are best suited for clients who entertain formal or regular staff.” If you prefer a more traditional approach to hospitality, you can use a You can also keep guests away from the kitchen while you are cooking. “Closed spaces create boundaries and provide both privacy and efficiency,” Angela agrees. This is often an important consideration for avid home cooks who want to be free of distractions in their home. A closed-plan kitchen lets you close the door and focus on creating edible masterpieces. Angela also recommends an enclosed kitchen for people who cook frequently and don’t want to worry about noises and odors spreading to other parts of the house or disturbing other family members. To do.
Although the space may feel small and cramped, a closed kitchen has more walls than an open plan kitchen, giving you more room for cabinetry and kitchen storage. “L-shaped and U-shaped kitchens are one of our customers’ preferred kitchen layouts, preferred for their ample storage and ease of access,” says Ginger. Additionally, from her design perspective, “a closed space can offer more opportunities to create something distinctive or bold that you might not want in an open concept,” she added.Or, “Kitchen too. do not have Although they should be designed or finished in an elaborate style, kitchen cabinets in particular are more practical,” suggests Kevin.
For Angela, one of the main disadvantages of a closed kitchen is the reduced level of natural light, increasing the need for more designated task lighting. “Similarly, ventilation will also be reduced and ventilation equipment may need to be installed,” she added. Closed-plan kitchens create boundaries within the home and foster a more formal, traditional lifestyle. Walls are erected in family ties, both literally and figuratively, preventing natural, casual connections from being forged through daily rituals and mindful meal preparation.
Which kitchen layout is best suited to our modern lifestyle?
“In our opinion, open-plan kitchens are more suited to the needs of today’s modern lifestyle. Kitchens have become more versatile to fit the rhythm of everyday life and are perfect for entertaining.” says Angela. “The layout is now more efficient, allowing the kitchen to function as a work and social space for the people who live there.”
Kevin agrees and has discovered a common preference among his clients for a more casual lifestyle. Open-plan layouts are good for more frequent entertaining or for “seeing the kitchen as one of the ‘public’ rooms of the house, like the living room or dining room,” he says. “Most of my clients live in New York City, where space is at a premium and every room has to serve a dual purpose. The kitchen opens onto an adjacent dining room. , our most popular solution that can be used as a family room for most of the year.”
Is there a solution to deal with the man in the middle?
What if you want to combine the sociability and casual dynamic of an open-plan kitchen with the practicality and privacy of a closed kitchen? Luckily, there’s a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. “Kitchen plans depend on the layout of your home,” Angela explains. “Some spaces have more limitations than others, but there’s always an opportunity to make the most of your space to suit your lifestyle needs.” Enjoy the benefits of open-plan and closed-plan kitchens One way to do this is to use partition walls or room dividers. “For example, you may have a wall separating the kitchen and living room, but open to the dining room. This creates a clear zone for cooking and eating, and allows you to keep the living area separate. You can,” suggests Angela.
“The best compromise is a kitchen with a large opening to the family room or dining room that can be closed off when needed,” says Kevin. “We designed a 5-10 foot wide opening with a pocket door between the kitchen and the adjoining room. It solves all the challenges!