Design Trends: From Open-Plan to “Broken Plan”

download (82)One of the key defining features of many new homes and renovations from the past decade or so would have to be that of the Open-Plan Design. Eliminating walls between kitchen, dining and living areas to create the illusion of more space has been the trend for several years now. Entertaining and living in such an open way has never felt so integrated and seamless.

However, there are some subtle signs that the Open Plan may not be the ideal for much longer. There are a few flaws in its design, after all. For instance, trying to cool or heat a vast living area with air conditioning can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. Watching the sport on television, with appliances like the dishwasher whirring in the background, can be tedious. And, people with children will relate: there is no room to escape the noise, mess and toys!

We are gradually moving away from closed up rooms, with many older-style houses consisting of lots of smaller rooms which can be sealed with internal doors. With heating and cooling options less accessible to many families, this style was a great way to keep warmth in; to separate adults’ formal sitting rooms for entertaining, and to create separate zones within the home. The last fifteen years or so has seen a huge change to such styles, and it has been all about knocking out walls to create one, huge open living expanse.

Along with the rise of technological use, there is a notable shift away from Open-Plan living and towards creating smaller nooks throughout the home for peace and privacy. Mary Duggan, a UK-based Architect and Judge for the RIBA House of the Year award, has recently spoken on the matter:

‘The world of the open-plan family room has changed quite significantly.

‘We’re getting asked more for snugs, rooms with TV’s or a space where people can go and watch something independently, rather than an open plan space.

‘That was the trend but I think it’s waning. The idea of having a much more ‘broken plan’ seems to be the way our buildings are playing out now.”

Looking forward, when planning a renovation or a new build, consider the way technological use has dramatically advanced and will likely continue to be a staple in peoples homes. Home design should consequently reflect this, and be inclusive of smaller nooks, studies or ‘snugs’ designed for using devices such as iPads and tablets. The ‘Broken Plan’ home is the new black!

For further consideration, building inclusions could feature fixtures within these areas such as built-in charger stations, benches and built-in desks to accommodate such devices. Also, consider that many devices will now want to be synced to the nearby television or speaker, and that many high-tech gadgets will now have features which allow the occupant to remotely pull down the blinds, dim the lights etc. It is simply the way of the future, and it makes sense for our home design to reflect such advancements.