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What makes a family-friendly open plan kitchen/living space - tips please!

(22 Posts)
Plateofcrumbs Tue 18-Nov-14 09:58:05

Am in the process of planning an extension to our house which will be an open plan kitchen-diner with room for a sofa/living space, with patio doors onto our garden. It won't be huge (about 6m x 6m). I just have one baby DS at the moment but want this to be a long term home and take us through toddlerhood, homework at the kitchen table etc etc.

What advice would you give me on how to design the space?

For example DH was thinking about a kitchen island with a hob - pre-DC I would have thought this a great idea but now think that wouldn't be safe. And I'm thinking that it is worth compromising on kitchen space to make sure we have a decent area for DCs to play.

MillionPramMiles Tue 18-Nov-14 11:03:10

A play area is a must. It'll be a while until your ds wants to play in his room so you'll need a bit of space for toy storage, a little toddler table/chair, the inevitable toy kitchen etc. Unless you're happy for your living room to be the play area/toy home.

If you can tuck your washing machine away in a cupboard or separate area that's ideal.

Sofa and tv, bookshelves/cupboards, maybe table and chair for laptop/PC.

OnePlanOnHouzz Tue 18-Nov-14 11:04:04

Islands and open plan can be adapted to suit toddler time with safety gates in some cases - check the sizes available and design with this in mind alternatively clever placement of DW that when open closes off certain routes can work too ! You are starting off right by thinking of these things before you start !!! So you are on the right track !!!

Plateofcrumbs Tue 18-Nov-14 11:50:13

Was definitely planning to put washing machine in a utility cupboard to keep it away from inquisitive hands. And also want to get an oven in a tower rather than under-hob for same reason.

I hadn't thought about any need to keep the kitchen area gated, but that is potentially a good point.

My thinking is to make the open-plan area the main family space with toys etc and keep the current living room a bit more 'grown up'

MillionPramMiles Tue 18-Nov-14 11:58:20

Not sure you need to keep the kitchen gated, we just put child locks on any cupboards within reach which had anything dangerous or the bin in them. Breakable crockery and cutlery etc went in higher drawers/cupboards.
We kept one drawer deliberately unlocked with non-dangerous/non-breakable bits in for dd to explore so she always gravitated to that.

By the time dd could reach the hob knobs/cutlery drawer she understood to keep away and was more interested in her own toy kitchen.

I'm with you on the grown up living room!

mandy214 Tue 18-Nov-14 13:39:21

Storage is your friend! You don’t have to compromise necessarily, you just have to be clever with the design. I would ensure you have as much storage as possible, making use of maximum storage in an island, and have more space for playing / living. You can always add units / cupboards (sideboards etc) if you find you need to. My tips would be to not think just about kitchen storage when you are planning the kitchen, but storage for children’s things too – so floor to ceiling cupboards and as many deep pan drawers as you can fit in. Sink away from anything hot (my children have all loved washing up, stood on a stool when they’ve been old enough). Can you incorporate a utility room rather than a cupboard? This is one thing (with 3 children) I would not be without – especially if you have one (or more) sporty DC, I can’t believe how much washing of kit / ironing I have to do and if I didn’t have a room for it (albeit it is tiny) and had to have it hanging around my lovely new kitchen diner, it would drive me insane. Don’t get gloss fronted cupboards either with sticky-handed toddlers, not a great combination in my experience. I wouldn’t have a hob on the island unit with children and I wouldn’t have under counters ovens or fridges (but that might be after one fateful day with 2 toddlers, a dozen broken eggs on the floor along with the rest of the contents of the fridge) but love having an island unit and with older children now, they sit there whilst I potter. We used an extending Babydan gate to fence off the (open plan) kitchen for a while. Toy storage (nice TV units etc which have deep drawers), if you’re planning a TV (with wiring / aerial etc) see if you can have it as far away as possible so that kitchen noise doesn’t disturb TV viewing and similarly when you & H are sat at island unit having a coffee, you can hear each other without the din of DS playing FIFA 14 on the Wii grin.

dinkystinky Tue 18-Nov-14 13:42:50

Easy to clean/non-mark surfaces
Plenty of storage (including for kids toys/arts and craft stuff) and an area for the DC to play on (rug/etc). Underfloor heating is lovely in a room you will spend a lot of time in.
I wouldn't go for the hob on an island - we have a sink in our island (redid our house when DS2 was 18 months old)

Sleepytea Tue 18-Nov-14 13:44:25

Think about when your children are older as well. My 10 year old loves cooking. We have an induction hob which he can use relatively safely and we have the Neff ovens with hideaway doors. I agree that a utility room is brill for hiding lots of muddy kit.

Plateofcrumbs Tue 18-Nov-14 14:22:32

Lots of great suggestions here thank you! Keeping sink clear of hob I hadn't thought about. Ideally I want an empty island unit (ie no sink or hob) that we can use as breakfast bar, craft centre, homework hotspot etc in years to come.

I think we have space for a downstairs loo, or a utility room, but not both - what would you prioritise? I hate hate hate clothes drying all over the house (DH generates quite enough stinky sports kit on his own even before DS starts getting in on the action) so I'm tempted to have a little utility for washing and skip the downstairs loo.

IssyStark Tue 18-Nov-14 15:26:19

I'd definitely have the utility room over the loo. A downstairs loo is an added bonus, but not having your washing machine in the kitchen/family room is essential if you want the room to work for you (unless you get very good at only doing laundry overnight).

dinkystinky Tue 18-Nov-14 15:58:25

Downstairs loo in our house would be used more than a utility room (we have 3 boys and a lot of laundry - we have washing machine and tumble drier in an understairs cupboard space with pocket doors to close off that zone) - our downstairs loo gets used lots (often when the other 2 are being used by other members of the family)

imip Tue 18-Nov-14 16:04:38

Can you merge a downstairs loo with a utility - we are planning it do that...

pootlebug Tue 18-Nov-14 16:34:42

Storage storage storage. Our kitchen/diner/living space is very much a family space. There are loads of toys in here but they are hidden in built-in cupboards (builder built cupboard carcass, kitchen company built doors to match the rest of the kitchen). It makes such a difference that stuff has its space. Much of the stuff is low enough level that the kids can get it out (and in theory put it away hmm) by themselves, but there are some higher cupboards for some of the craft stuff, presents etc. to be kept out of the way.

Practical flooring - ours is concrete-look porcelain tiles, with a rug in the seating area. The rug will doubtless not last too many years with small children around, but is easily replaced. The rest of the floor copes with anything thrown at it and doesn't show the dirt too easily!

Space for things like children's artwork and craft creations

Decent lighting that you can zone by area and dim areas etc.

pootlebug Tue 18-Nov-14 16:35:34

Meant to add that our hob is on the island. Youngest was 8 months when the kitchen was finished and 2-and-8-months now. It's never been a problem that it is open plan - I've never gated off any bits of it.

Plateofcrumbs Tue 18-Nov-14 17:32:37

pootlebug - Interesting about flooring - I was having a PFB moment and worried about children falling over on tiled floors (hard and slippery) but I presume this is OK in practice?

Plateofcrumbs Tue 18-Nov-14 17:38:36

imip we had originally planned a downstairs loo with the washing machine in it, but there would be no room for laundry drying etc - just a loo and a washing machine. We could sacrifice the loo and have space for clothes airing and other storage.

imip Tue 18-Nov-14 17:45:09

Could you use a Sheila's maid on the roof and a cupboard over the washing machine?

OnePlanOnHouzz Tue 18-Nov-14 18:05:15

I have a WM and TD in a separated cupboard - they are stacked on one side and opposite are the baskets and shelving for sorting - takes it about the same room as a downstairs wc. I wouldn't to be without my tumble dryer ! But I work, and I'm a mum, and life's too short !

(NB my suggestion about gates was more for stopping toddlers using 'around the island' as a racetrack ! And to keep them clear while hot things going on around the hob !)

poocatcherchampion Sat 22-Nov-14 21:10:56

you wouldnt use a dishwasher door as a barrier here. its a lovely height for a climbing challenge for a 1yo. and those lovely sharp knives grin

Theorientcalf Sat 22-Nov-14 21:41:42

We're having an extension for the same purposes. We're not having tiles as they're just too hard (and cold if you don't have under floor heating). However we have looked at wood effect vinyl and I was surprised at how realistic it is, if you are willing to pay for decent stuff. Much warmer and kinder on the knees!

Have you looked at induction hobs? They don't get hot so no burnt hands. And the Neff ovens with the sliding doors underneath are good, and the buttons push in. We put child locks on the cupboard doors. Definitely put the washing machine somewhere else if you can if you're creating an area you're going to spend most of your time in.

We're having a grown up living room too, can't wait as we've always had ours full of toys, so think about storage too.

Origamiheaven Sat 22-Nov-14 21:56:02

We have an open plan kitchen/ diner/ lounge area and we love it. I would think very carefully about the fixed island design. We had the extension done 5 years ago and over time have had different furniture/ space configurations that suit for that time. The dcs are getting older and we now use the space differently. If you install a fixed island, you are stuck with it. I am so glad we didn't decide on this when we designed the space as the room would not have been as flexible. I totally agree with the storage space comments.

poocatcherchampion Mon 24-Nov-14 18:42:15

we have gone for a moveable island but with a cunning trick: socket on the floor underneath it - so it can be used for cooking etc.

I'm dead pleased with myself smile.

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