BROKEN-PLAN: The best of both worlds

Glass doors divide this open-plan space

FOR DECADES NOW it has been difficult to discuss any project of redevelopment or new construction without using the words “open-plan”. We love the flow of light and air, the sense of space and sociability and now, since our recent forced review of what our home provides for us, the flexibility.

Labelled by journalists and architects as “broken-plan”, the concept of zoning or dividing an open-plan space into specific areas is not a new one, it’s something many interior designers and home-owners have been intuitively doing. Now, as we search for the home office, gym, play area, quiet corner or workroom, the benefits of being able to adapt an open-plan space become apparent. Broken-plan can also help address the drawbacks of open-plan: heating and noise. And not only does this suit our living today, but it also gives us the possibility to change things for tomorrow.

Open-plan living and kitchen space is divided by bespoke sliding doors

So what are the secrets to having the best of both worlds? Here are three tips that work for us.

  1. If flexibility is your priority, use free standing furniture such as shelf screens, sofas or rugs to create your zoning.
A rug divides this room into cosy seating at one end of the room or elegant bar area at the other

2. Keep everything low level: being able to communicate is one of the benefits of open-plan. Use decorative details, low level partitions or stairs to divide up your space without closing anyone off.

A central island divides dining and sitting rooms from kitchen space

3. Work with the light you have: keep dividers low or mid height. Consider the installation of internal windows, sky-lights or glass screen doors if necessary.

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