Open-plan layouts keep up with times

Madelin HayesThe West Australian
The most popular open-plan configuration involved a kitchen, living and dining room space, according to Coast Homes Managing Director Dean Harris.
Camera IconThe most popular open-plan configuration involved a kitchen, living and dining room space, according to Coast Homes Managing Director Dean Harris. Credit: Joel Barbitta/D-Max Photography.

Open-plan living is all about making the most of light-filled and multi-functional spaces for family and friends to gather – gone are the days of the stuffy and separated formal lounge only used on special occasions.

According to Coast Homes Managing Director Dean Harris, residential floor plans have evolved to keep up with the times of the Australian lifestyle – now reflecting informal living.

“Our early home designs were influenced by the designs of the countries of our ancestors, plus the socioeconomic position of society at the time the homes were built,” he said. “These designs were not necessarily suitable to the warmer climate we enjoy here in Australia.

“As the Australian lifestyle has evolved over time, moving towards more relaxed and informal living arrangements, home designs have changed to reflect our way of life.”

Although an open-plan layout may be at the top of every homebuyers wish list, it takes careful planning to optimise the best layout for every home.

“Our designers will begin by looking at the site and try to ensure the living areas are positioned in a way to maximise solar orientation and light,” Mr Harris said.

“Depending on the client brief, creating a kitchen layout that allows views across a dining or living area with views outside to a garden or alfresco is important.

“The sense of space can be increased by the intelligent use of glass windows and doors so that the outdoor living and garden areas feel part of the overall living space.”

Often described as the heart of the home, Mr Harris said the kitchen and living areas were best utilised through indoor/outdoor connectivity.

“We spend most of our home waking hours in our kitchens and living areas,” he said. “In modern, open-plan house designs, these areas tend to open out to alfresco and outdoor living areas.

“When connected by sliding doors and windows, it creates a connection to those internal and external spaces and effectively increases the overall feel of the living zone.”

To traffic the busiest areas of the home, Mr Harris said the most popular open-plan configuration involved a kitchen, living and dining room space.

“Even with upside-down homes, where the kitchen is located on the upper floor, you will often find the kitchen positioned so it is looking out over a family and dining area through to a balcony, to create the connection to the outdoors,” he said. “This ensures the connection to the outdoors is retained in the home.”

Mr Harris added that an open-plan design could help make a smaller home feel larger.

“Anyone who has lived in or visited an older home with formal separate living areas and kitchens with no connection to the dining area will know it is hard to create a connected feeling in the home,” he said.

“At Coast Homes we are finding that client requests for a separate theatre room is also becoming less common.

“The popularity and affordability of large-screen TVs mean that the living room can be a place to watch your favourite movies or the footy, instead of moving to an isolated theatre room.”

Mr Harris said modern floor plans also allowed for better entertaining opportunities.

“People are more likely to sit out in the alfresco to eat with their guests than sitting in a closed off dining room commonly found in older home designs,” he said.

“Gone are the separate formal dining rooms that, as a child, I remember were out of bounds except on those formal occasions when friends or family would visit.”

CONTACT Coast Homes, 6241 6766,

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails