The combined kitchen/dining room is one of the most popular home improvements around now, and with good reason.
The trend for spending more time at home, which really began with the new millennium and was perpetuated by the later economic recession, is showing no signs of abating. Householders are spending their time and some money on making their homes as comfortable and welcoming as possible. However, the old-fashioned kitchen/dining room divide does not lend itself to home entertaining: somebody always ends up isolated in the kitchen, preparing the food, while the guests wait in an entirely different area: not very sociable. Therefore it is hardly surprising that so many people are blending their kitchen and dining rooms into one big open plan, walk-through space. A light, airy kitchen, combined with an inviting, relaxing dining area, perhaps equipped with an attractive round dining table, is the modern householder’s ‘must have’.
However, because the kitchen diner is a relatively new phenomenon, many people live in houses or flats that still have the traditional separate cooking and eating/socializing areas. Many have to undertake large-scale structural alterations in order to merge these into a kitchen diner – having to remove a wall or build an extension. Thankfully, recent changes to planning laws have made this much easier – from an administrative point of view at least. As a precaution it is always a good idea to check with the local authority building and planning departments before beginning such work, because there may be issues around party walls, load-bearing walls, building regulations or local conservation laws, that must be sorted out before such major changes are made.
In today’s open plan kitchen diners, guests and hosts can chat as the food is prepared and as they are eating in the same room. After the meal they might linger at the table with a bottle of wine before retiring to the lounge. While this is very convenient, it does mean that the room must be very carefully laid out and equipped. The kitchen diner has to be a utilitarian and a social space, all at once. For many, the easiest way around this problem is to create a series of zones, which can be subtly marked using furniture and spot lighting.
For example, a kitchen island or peninsula can be used to suggest the division between cooking and dining space. The cook can then carry on cooking, without tripping over, or being interrupted by stray guests as he or she does so, but because the room is open plan the cook can still chat away to anyone else present. The kitchen island can also be a source of extra storage space, which is very useful if cupboards and other wall-mounted storage units have been sacrificed in the creation of the open-plan room.
Furniture is often used to mark the social area of the space, as well as to create a sense of style and ambience. A great example is the use of contrasting or brightly colored furniture to draw the eye away from the cooking area and into the social space. Black sofas, for example, will contrast with pale colored walls and units, allowing guests to see immediately where they are able sit and relax. Lighting, too, can mark the practical from the relaxation zones: typically, the cooking area is brightly lit, while the relaxation or dining areas are lit in a more subdued fashion.
Stainless steel is a popular and practical choice of material for the modern kitchen. It imparts a professional look to the space. Cooker hoods and sink units, and particularly splashbacks, look very good in the material and are very easy to keep sparkling clean. Installing stainless steel features is not difficult and if you need to know how to install a stainless steel backsplash sheet there is plenty of advice available online.