Written by Lisa Proffitt | 11th October 2019


Open-plan to broken-plan – the ultimate family home layout?

Tearing down internal walls to open up one big space for a family kitchen-dining-living room has been the go-to planning approach over the past few decades. Yet open-plan does have drawbacks for modern family life.

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As children turn into teenagers we increasingly want a space where we’re aware of each other, but with enough separation that we’re not right on top of each other. In other words, we want it all.

Cue broken-plan living, a new take on open-plan, where cleverly defined zones give privacy options whilst keeping the light and airy open-plan feeling that we love so much. So how can you go from open-plan to broken-plan? Crittall glass screens are often chosen as a classic way to keep light flowing through the space, but if making permanent, structural changes is not an option, a broken-plan layout is still achievable by clever use of decor and furniture.

  • Throwing down a large statement rug and rearranging furniture is a fast and effective way to create a zone. Patterned rugs add definition to a large space, especially if you’ve designed an open living space that now feels too cavernous. Several rugs can be used to break up the room and define the living from the dining spaces. And think big. In a living room a rug should run under the front of the sofa and in a dining space it needs to be large enough to pull the chairs out from under the table. In the bedroom, the bed should sit comfortably on the rug.
  • Different types of flooring can also be used to demonstrate boundaries in open areas. Carpet is a popular choice for the main living area with laminate for adjoining kitchen or dining spaces. And it’s well worth spending some time researching a hardwearing carpet. There are fabrics available now which are as soft as cotton but which can be safely bleach cleaned.
  • The old-fashioned dressing screen is no longer just for modesty. It’s a multi-tasking and practical design solution, perfect for creating areas of privacy without having to close off rooms. Not only that, it works as a stand-alone decorative piece of furniture whether you go for Victorian chinoiserie or rustic wood. They’re not just for the bedroom either. Designers are increasingly adding them to kitchen-diners for those occasions when you just want to draw a veil over the clutter.
  • Double-sided bookshelves do an equally brilliant job of dividing a room without blocking the flow of light. They can be a decorative focal point too dotted with pretty artisan pottery and plants as well as books. There are options to suit every budget – Heals has one for £6000 but don’t discount the Ikea version that comes in at a much more wallet-friendly £350.

Even if you love your open-plan layout, broken-plan is one of those brilliant trends that you can dip in to and pull out the best bits, ringing the changes in your own home for very little time and money. What’s not to love about a trend like that? 

Do you have any tips for building a broken-plan living space? You can tweet us @MG_Living or find us on Facebook, and if you’re looking for your ultimate family home, we’d love to help. Michael Graham homes to buy or to rent are all available to view by clicking the Property Search button now, including the three below, all with open plan areas perfect for families of any size.


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