Opening Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
Open kitchens, or “open concept kitchens,” can do wonders to transform your home. And while there are a wide variety of ways to design and execute an open concept floor plan, perhaps the most popular route is opening up a kitchen to a dining room. Here is an in-depth guide on how to execute opening up a wall between kitchen and dining room, as well as an overview of the benefits of making this move in your home.
Why Homeowners Are Opening Up Their Kitchens to Dining Rooms
Open concept kitchens have become wildly popular in recent years, and it’s no wonder why: they do an excellent job of creating space, improving functionality and flow, and generally enhance and modernize the aesthetic of any home..
It’s also easy to understand why so many homeowners are choosing to open up their kitchens into their dining room space. Here are some of the top reasons.
Modern Look and Functionality
In the mid-1900s, open concept homes did not exist. Rather, homeowners and designers opted for multi-roomed homes, where each room had its own specific function. But as time went on, technology improved, and designers realized what a more effective use of space the open concept home could provide.
Today, open concept kitchens are used to instantly modernize homes, and create a more consistently functional space. Renovating your existing kitchen by opening it up is also a more cost-efficient option than adding on to your home, which many homeowners also choose to do. By opening the walls that surround the kitchen and “allowing the sightlines to expand beyond the kitchen, you create the perception of more space without the cost of creating more square footage”.
For more in-depth information about the origins of open concept kitchens, check out our article, “What Is an Open Concept Kitchen.”
Better for Families
Another reason why more and more homeowners are opening up their kitchens into dining rooms is the family-friendly factor. By removing walls and obstructions between the kitchen and dining room, there’s a much more kid-friendly sightline, where mom and dad can easily keep an eye on kids from the kitchen while they prepare meals.
Better for Entertaining Large Groups
For a similar reason, opening up a kitchen to a dining room is also a great option for homeowners who enjoy entertaining. From dinners to parties to informal gatherings with friends, open concept kitchen/dining rooms lend themselves especially well to conversation. There are no awkward walls and doorways to block the view of other party goers, and the open concept facilitates easier traffic patterns with large groups as well. Not to mention, many open concept kitchen remodels include islands or bar-style countertops, which are great for appetizers and buffet-style dining.
Less Formal Dining Space
If you don’t necessarily love the idea of a formal dining space, then an open concept kitchen/dining room combo may be perfect for you. Many homeowners are choosing this option for the exact same reason – with the dining area unseparated by walls and easily accessible, it may actually make it easier for families to get together and share a meal.
Purely Aesthetic Reasons
Perhaps one of the top reasons that homeowners choose to install open concept kitchens and open them up to dining rooms is for the pure aesthetic value. Open concept kitchens, when executed well, can have truly stunning results.
Plus, other popular trends at the moment work especially well with open kitchens and dining rooms. For example, exposed shelving and glass cabinets maintain the visual of “openness,” which in turn helps to enhance the size of the space.
How to Open Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
Although it’s one of the more common options for open concept designs, opening up a kitchen to a dining room still presents its own unique set of challenges. Here are some of our top tips for opening up a kitchen to a dining room.
Tips for Opening Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
DO direct traffic away from work areas. A common problem suffered by small kitchens is too many circulation routes, which, in turn, disrupts the primary activity areas, such as the sink, stovetop, and dishwasher. And with all that overly used space in the kitchen, the dining room suffers from lack of use. Combining the kitchen and the dining rooms into one spacious family room/kitchen is a much better choice for a formal lifestyle. Plus, by opening up the kitchen to the dining room, you can easily direct traffic away from high traffic areas in the kitchen, and maximize efficiency.
DO make the new design functional. Yes, looks are important, but if this remodel that you’ve invested tons of time and money into doesn’t make logical sense, you will regret it. Your remodeled space needs to be a proper working kitchen. Good architectural design “solves functional requirements first and aesthetics second. A good working floor plan allows you to live in your house with ease and comfort; it will function properly and help make your remodeled home feel and look appropriate”.
DO pay special attention to the transition zone. Once the kitchen is opened up, you can customize the opening depending on how you wish to treat the transition from the kitchen to the adjoining space. For example, if you remove a wall to connect the kitchen with another room, part of the newly enlarged space can be dedicated to food preparation and part to eating, socializing, reading, or watching TV – that’s the beauty of an open concept kitchen.
You can emphasize the transition zone with a design element at the ceiling, such as an arch, a defining light fixture, or a change in ceiling height. Oftentimes, this can help define the two areas as effectively as a kitchen island or peninsula.
If you don’t like the idea of having zero separation, sometimes a half-wall can work well, without taking up as much space as an eating counter.
DO use cohesive design elements. Just because you’re combining two rooms that were once “separate” doesn’t mean you can keep them completely design-independent of each other. The best designers will tell you to pick a few cohesive elements and integrate them in all spaces now connected by your open floor plan. For example, similar colored trimmings or accent colors throughout will create a connected aesthetic and prevent rooms from competing with each other.
DO define space without using walls. Part of what makes linking the kitchen and dining spaces feel natural is that their individual rooms remain defined but open to one another—separate but equal. All great designers will emphasize that good design does not need walls to define space, and this can be tastefully done in any home no matter its age.
There are many ways to define separate spaces without using walls. Some of the most popular examples are wing walls, enlarged openings with pilasters and entablatures, columns, dropped ceilings and more.
In addition, changes in floor materials are another useful way to define space. This is often best done “in conjunction with a ceiling material change (wood cladding for example) or a dropped ceiling whereby the floor and ceiling plane mirror one another”.
DO integrate natural light. When planning your open concept kitchen design, take advantage of exterior walls by adding windows and doors to help splash natural light into interior zones. By adding windows, or even better French doors, you can see the landscaping from the interior, which in turn makes your space feel bigger, while also providing some of the psychological benefits you would get from actually being outside.
Corner windows are especially effective for opening views and outside relationships. “Even if there’s no view, a translucent or stained-glass window can brighten the space with natural light and lend an airy feeling to a tight room”.
DO simplify the space. An open concept remodel should be a process of simplification. Choose to maximize kitchen square footage by relocating functions not directly related to preparing and eating meals to other regions.
For example, many older homes have laundry areas or closets between the kitchen and the backyard. Moving the laundry to a small closet adds space and reduces traffic through the kitchen while gaining an exterior wall for windows and doors.
Another thing to think about is eliminating or relocating doorways that currently disrupt circulation. If you absolutely have to have multiple doorways in the kitchen, try to group them in one area to confine circulation to one or two routes. Another great rule of thumb to follow: Rooms that aren’t related to the kitchen shouldn’t connect to the kitchen.
DON’T do it all by yourself. Everyone loves a good DIY project, but don’t make this one of them. A remodel is a tough job for one room, but especially if you’re working on two rooms at once, it’s best to enlist the help of a professional.
Design Ideas for Opening Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
There are so many different design routes you can go with if you choose to open up your kitchen to your dining room.
While a modern aesthetic will almost always compliment open concept kitchen designs, that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. Take a look at your current kitchen and dining room, and make note of what you like about them, design-wise. Is there a certain lighting fixture you absolutely love? A few antique pieces that add extra character? Choose to build around these elements in your new open concept space.
For more in-depth design ideas for open concept kitchens, check out our blog post, “Open Concept Kitchen Design Ideas.”
Benefits of Opening Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
There are so many benefits to opening up a kitchen to a dining room. This process will naturally improve the flow and functionality of two (or three or more) of the rooms that you and your family probably spend the most time in, so why not make the investment?
Open kitchens are also generally a great investment move – if you have any plans of re-selling your home in the near future, opening up your kitchen into the dining room and/or living room will almost certainly help with resale value.
There are also a number of health and wellness related benefits that accompany opening up a kitchen into a dining room. For example, open concept kitchens generally create more natural light in the home, which helps to improve mood and productivity. Plus, the lack of walls will help facilitate more social interaction between family members, which can lead to better communication and relationships in the home.
Drawbacks of Opening Up a Kitchen to a Dining Room
It is worth saying that there are a handful of drawbacks to the open concept kitchen layout, and knocking down walls to open your kitchen up to your dining room.
While this process can improve social interaction by removing boundaries, it also eliminates some private space in the home, which can make it difficult to get a quiet moment alone aside from retreating to a bedroom. Without walls to absorb, your common area will also probably get a lot noisier.
But overall, the benefits of opening up a kitchen to a dining room definitely outweigh the drawbacks.
In conclusion, despite all there is to consider about the process, Opening up a kitchen to a dining room isn’t hard, it just takes thoughtful design and careful planning. Get started with your remodel today!