Growing up I lived in a space where my grandmother was always separate to the rest of the family. We had a fairly extended family, my mum, me, my aunt and uncle, grandmother and grandfather and often other family members popping in and out as well. The kitchen was small and separate to the two living rooms, and my grandmother would often be in the kitchen by herself, or with me. I’d do my homework on the tiny table in the kitchen whilst she cooked and baked and we’d chat about our day, but it was very easy to feel disconnected with everyone in separate rooms.
When I had the chance to renovate my own living space as an adult, I knew what I wanted – an open plan family space, uncluttered and well-maintained. Here’s what’s so good about it.
The family can feel connected
This is the big one for me. We have one large downstairs space – that’s two living rooms and the kitchen all knocked into one. Now I can be cooking, William can be doing his homework on the main dining table or even on the kitchen island, my husband can be working on his computer or playing games, my mum can be watching TV. If people want snacks or a bite to eat they can come and eat at the kitchen island, rather than grab something and disappear.
It doesn’t matter if we’re all focused on the same thing – we can see and hear each other, so we can all chat and feel connected. I don’t feel closed off or isolated in the kitchen so cooking a big meal no longer feels like a chore. It is a game changer at Christmas when I always felt quite lonely doing everything in the kitchen, now I can watch William play with his new toys whilst I’m prepping the turkey.
The space becomes a multipurpose space
One large space means you can be very versatile with what you use it for. We can easily use it for indoor exercise and working out, or bring in an extra table for a big meal with extended family and friends. Having a large space really gives you freedom to use it however you want to without being too limited by size, and it’s fabulous for entertaining and parties too.
But if you think that sounds messy or confusing, it’s not – you can still feel like you have zones for using the space, such as a work area, and a TV area. It just means when you do want to make those zones bigger for any reason, you can. It lets you be flexible.
It brings a lot more light into the house
Light is very elusive especially in older terraced properties like mine. But gone are the dark, small rooms of my childhood. Now the light flows through the entire of my downstairs space straight through from front to pack. Having large amounts of natural light can not only make a space look and feel bigger, but it can also really help with your mental health. especially if you work from home so you find yourself at home a lot. Whilst you’re having the renovation work done you may also want to think about adding patio doors or bifold doors if the room connects to a rear garden, as this will really transform your living experience when the weather is beautiful and the doors are wide open.
But how hard is it?
You’re probably wondering how much work it is and how hard it is to do. It is always going to be disruption to the house to remove a wall and it is a major renovation, there’s no getting around that, but with a good team, the work can be completely quickly and efficiently, and isn’t going to break the bank either. You will need to employ someone professional to complete the work – for safety reasons you’re going to want someone experienced with planning and structural work. Search for Structural engineers in Cornwall or in your local area and then choose someone who has experience with open plan conversions. They’ll be able to give you a good quote on how long this will take and the work involved. Once it’s all done, it’ll absolutely be worth it for the quality of life increases it gives the whole family and I have absolutely no regrets about my open plan family living space.
I did a full house renovation before moving into my current family home and we did a lot of work, from new windows and doors, to plastering every wall, new flooring, two new bathrooms, a new kitchen and more, but the biggest single improvement that has made a difference to my family has to be the open plan living space.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this sort of renovation that I can answer from a family perspective as I’m always happy to share my experiences.