Open Plan, Open Mind


The way we choose to use the space in our homes has come full circle.

How we use our living space has changed and developed over the years; however, familiar themes sometimes re-emerge. Just as trends in fashion and music repeat themselves through history, so too have trends in interiors. Hundreds of years ago there was a central hub which acted as the main focus for the home. This large open plan space had a fire for cooking and heating; was used for family meetings and gatherings as well as to relax and entertain. Over time, the house started to be divided and separated into smaller rooms. The installation of central heating and electric light enabled this to be viable and people enjoyed multiple, more private spaces for individual uses. However, over recent years we have continued to see the huge demand for open plan living again. A multifunctional space, centred around the kitchen with space for the whole family to enjoy. Therefore, careful planning is an essential element to get right when you're designing your home to ensure you are making best use of this fundamental space.

Using an interior designer can offer an open mind and a fresh perspective to explore ideas you don't always see when it's your own home, as well as bringing a wealth of experience and expertise. It's very easy to take for granted how you use the space. Just because it's been that way doesn't mean, that's how it has to stay. An investment in sound planning at the outset of your project can help avoid unnecessary, costly mistakes further down the line.

At Slightly Quirky Interior Design we love working on space planning, it's like a big puzzle! We understand the importance of planning and organising the space to maximise its potential; making sure it serves all the functions required and ensuring it flows. It is also important to consider how this open plan space connects to the rest of the home, ensuring flow and continuity as a whole. We often advise our clients to live in a space for a period of time to see how they use it, what works for them and what doesn't; what feels comfortable and what's missing. However, it's very easy to get caught up with 'living' and not step outside of the puzzle and look at it from a different perspective.

Some questions we ask are:

What will the space be used for? Who will use it- how often and when? What activities will take place there? What ages are the people who use it? Are you future proofing? How do you want to feel when you and your guests enter the space? What atmosphere do you want to achieve overall? Is this your forever-home or are you planning to sell in the near future?

If you are planning your own home, try not to lose sight of these questions and this will help maintain focus to achieve the desired outcome. For example, don't get fixated on a large dining table which could take up much of the space, if in reality seating a large number of people only happens a couple of times a year. Why not go for a table which works for everyday use, but one which is extendable so as not to waste valuable space and disrupt the flow for the everyday use.

As interior designers, we take the time to really understand what our clients are looking to achieve; however, we are also able to read between the lines and take a broader, overall view. Our experience enables us to interpret our clients' brief, whilst raising questions they may not have thought about; considering alternative, sometimes leftfield, ideas and introducing creative, inspired and innovative ideas. Creating a different puzzle whilst still keeping the overall picture in view. There are many elements to consider: kitchen area, dining area, furniture, lighting, zones, atmosphere, flow, natural light, smart technology. Design is a fluid process and getting all these elements right doesn't always happen first time, we take the time to play around with different options, the more you play and explore, the more options become apparent. We work very closely with our clients, it is a collaborative process with the aim of achieving a practical, interesting and unique space.

Having an open mind to the possibilities can open the space you have even more.

Caroline Nicholls from Slighty Quirky