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Open Plan Living 

How to make your kitchen a social, practical and flexible space, writes Hilda Moore 
Open Plan Kitchen Design
Open plan living continues to grow in popularity because of the social, practical and flexible space it provides. Combining the different aspects of kitchen, living and dining with social and family life, brings a calming and indulgent feeling of space and openness and facilitates inclusive family living - just how a home should be!
Despite the availability of space, open plan living still needs structure and clear planning to get the best out of the room you have to work with.
An ergonomic layout is key and you need to consider the most effective use of space and how your family like to live.
This is where an experienced designer can add value, logic and vision to your thoughts while ensuring the practical details arenít overlooked. 
Open Plan Kitchen Swindon
Practical & comfortable
A working triangle for example, where your oven, fridge and dishwasher/sink are in easy reach of each other, can be overlooked in favour of quirky, unusual designs or eye-catching gadgets. Thereís little point having a well-appointed kitchen space that isnít practical or comfortable to work in. 

When fusing your living, dining and kitchen zones, it is also important to maintain definition between the working kitchen and the relaxed, living areas.
Using the same colour scheme throughout creates a sense of uninterrupted and streamlined space which can be effectively separated with an island or peninsula while retaining a feeling of openness.

Combining and complementing the textures and materials of cabinets, flooring and worktops is another clever way to enhance the feeling of continuity and connection between the separate areas in a tasteful and subtle way. 

While open plan living and combining two rooms into one is a popular home improvement trend, there are a number of things to consider before taking the plunge into a lifestyle change that will alter the way you use your home.
Questions to ask

How do you prevent smells seeping into living areas? How do you hide the mess that can easily accumulate in a busy kitchen? Do you want your guests to see everything youíre preparing or would you like a means of screening your eating area from your food preparation area?

There is a superb range of highly effective and energy efficient extraction units now available on the market through brands such as Neff, AEG and Miele to eradicate problem smells and steam Ė or even occasional smoke!

Taller units can also be used to block the view of untidy worktops and add more definition to the working area. Equally, todayís storage solutions means there is little excuse to not have a place for everything in a truly well designed kitchen.

Finally, when it comes to opening your kitchen into a family living and dining area, young children can become exposed to dangers such as hot ovens and sharp cutlery and corners whether it be on an island, worktops or integrated seating area.

In-Toto Swindon Design Studio
Always talk to your designer about your lifestyle and your priorities early in your first consultation. Kitchens can be child proof, pet proof and guest proof!
When well designed, a good quality kitchen will improve every family memberís quality of life by encouraging the togetherness that makes your kitchen every bit the heart of your home.
Hilda Moore runs In-Toto Kitchens in Old Town, Swindon alongside her husband David.
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In-Toto Kitchens - more info.
Chelworth Windows and Conservatories, Swindon, Wiltshire
J&M Flooring
Self-Storage Swindon, Wiltshire
The Hair Group, Old Town, Swindon