The Open-plan Kitchen Option
There was a time, not too long ago, when South African home owners were not overly concerned about the dimensions of their rooms. Nowadays, with construction costs – indeed all costs – spiralling, the emphasis is on the compact, and on an internal arrangement that makes optimum use of every available square centimetre.
Up until the 1970s, the most common type of kitchen was a separate room, totally enclosed except perhaps for a serving hatch, with one door leading out to the service yard and the other into the dining area, Although some larger kitchens of this kind had space for a breakfast nook, they could not be described as ‘open-plan’ in the correct sense of the word.
Open-planning, a basic design concept much in vogue today, really does save space, Moreover, it helps to create the illusion of space, which is extremely important in the smaller home. A great deal depends on the kind of family you have, and the type of cook you are: bear in mind that an open configuration involves loss of privacy. If you regard the kitchen as your exclusive domain; a functional place which enables you to get on with your work without disturbance; or if the other members of the household need space for their own individual pursuits, then the enclosed kitchen would probably be your choice.
Open planning is for the family that mostly enjoys doing things together, unless, of course, the home has additional, special-purpose areas: study, TV/family room, a master bedroom with space for sitting, or children’s bedrooms fitted out for play and homework. In broad terms, there are two categories of open-plan living:
Cooking and Eating. Here, we are not talking of a table in the corner of the kitchen that does duty for casual meals, with a separate, more formal dining room elsewhere, but of the incorporation of a proper eating arrangement into the kitchen area. The room needs to be large; firm demarcation of the working and eating areas is a matter of preference. A counter or some other form of room divider allows a degree of privacy, for instance, but if yours is a particularly close-knit family, a free flow between the two sections would afford maximum sociability. A counter can also double as a breakfast bar.
Cooking, Eating and Living. Here, the three activities should be clearly separated, perhaps by the arrangement of fixtures and fittings, and bearing in mind that the combined area needs to be especially spacious. Storage is particularly important, since the kitchen and all it contains will be on permanent show. The work centre’s decor will have to harmonise with the rest of the living area, so colour and style are vital considerations.