If you’re wondering how to make your small kitchen feel more expensive without adding on, consider the possibility of taking out a wall or two and converting the area to an open plan. While this option calls for careful planning, a building permit and some demolition work, it’s quite feasible if you’re planning a major kitchen remodel anyway – and the results will transform your home.
Planning to Expand
The first step is deciding which wall to remove. The best areas to combine with the kitchen are family and breakfast rooms because this allows you to open up space without changing the function of either room. Opening up a kitchen to a dining room is also an option, as long as you don’t mind losing some of the formality of a separate dining room. However, avoid expanding into any room where privacy is important, such as a study or home office. While they offer many advantages, open – plan kitchens often emphasise three problems that you’ll need to con- sider in the planning stage: clutter, noise and odours.
Open – plan kitchens put the cooking area in the spot- light. To keep it neat, make sure your plan includes ample storage space. lf removing a wall means sacrificing some kitchen cabinets, add an island or peninsula with deep drawers and shelves, and use an appliance garage to reduce countertop clutter. Screen dirty dishes and cookware from view at mealtime with a change in the floor level or a multi – level peninsula or island.
Open kitchens allow noise to travel freely between rooms, which can pose a problem, especially when the kitchen opens to a family room. Since hard surfaces (like wood, tile and glass) reflect sound, use soft materials (like carpets, drapes and upholstery) wherever possible, to help muffle the sound of kitchen clatter, TV and video games.
The ventilation of your kitchen may be greatly improved by the new cross – breezes that appear when you remove a wall. However, the best insurance against the spread of cooking odours is good ventilation ducted through the roof or an exterior wall. Range hoods and downdraft vents are usually sized to fit a cooktop, but for an open kitchen, you may want to choose one with a higher cfm (cubic feet per minute) rating.
An open – plan kitchen should feel expansive, not chaotic or formless. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to define space without walls – in fact, there are many creative options. Using islands, peninsulas and furniture groupings are common ways to mark boundaries, as is the use of lighting. For example, you can adjust track lighting to outline an area. Architectural features, such as a picture window, fireplace, floor border or a transition in ceiling height can also provide borders or establish focal points for activity areas. Although you may not need to move any of the activity areas after the walls come down, it’s good to experiment with this to see how the new space will work best. For example, you might exchange the dining and sitting areas.
When planning how to use the space, be sure not to intrude on the traffic paths; people need to move freely and efficiently through the rooms. Another option that can enhance the usefulness of the open area is to add a nook or alcove somewhere. This space can serve as a cooking library a craft centre or simply as a quiet spot where you can sit down and pay bills, do homework or use the computer.