09 Aug 2013
In many modern homes, the kitchen, living room, dining room and patio are designed to flow seamlessly together. In studio apartments, even the bedroom is part of the living area and often the dining area doubles up as a home office.
At the start of the trend, homeowners had to knock walls out to get the look, but almost all newly built houses are designed with free-flowing spaces at the core of the building philosophy.
Anton Odendaal from Rochester says architecture, just like the rest of our contemporary lifestyle is about comfort, convenience and saving time. Open plan living areas provide easy access to different zones in the home. "The awareness of sustainability and saving energy further endorses openplan living, as this design style tends to optimise natural light and ventilation.”
Odendaal notes that there are a few drawbacks to open plan living areas, including heat loss, less privacy and noise. He also points out that there are, however, many benefits.
Fewer walls mean less wasted space so there is no need for passages or corridors, which saves on building costs. It also translates into more natural light and ventilation.
A happy place
The sunny atmosphere created by natural light flooding free-flowing spaces, is the most appealing quality of open plan architecture. Homeowners’ needs have changed and formal lounges have been phased out.
Cooking in a stuffy kitchen is never fun for anyone, but with openplan living, there is no need to cook in solitude – you can be cooking dinner, while your kids watch TV in the living area. The flexibility offered by openplan living spaces fits in well with the zeitgeist of informal living and less rigid roles of family members.
Loads of options
One large room allows for flexible floor plans for furniture placement. You can change, shuffle or combine work, leisure and dining zones with little effort, giving you more creative and practical options.
Living as a family
Walls are barriers, so when they come down, Odendaal says the result is more social interaction. Each family member can be busy with his own activity, yet have a conversation across different zones.
To create a relaxed yet elegant openplan living area, he says it is advisable to decorate the space as a whole. “This will strengthen the desired free-flowing look and feel of the space." If you don’t, the different zones won’t blend seamlessly and could end up looking messy and disjointed.
Odendaal says it is similar to garden design and architecture, as you start by planning the whole project, then you can execute it over time.
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