12 Open Kitchen Design Ideas That Will Spark Culinary Inspiration Today

Open kitchen design with the view of the living room

An open kitchen design eliminates traditional barriers, such as walls and doors, to open the space between at least two rooms. Since the early 1990s, this has been popular in new construction as well as remodeling plans.

What are the best open-floor designs, and who can benefit from an open plan?

Open kitchen plans allow people to move throughout a house with an easier flow than when moving through distinct rooms. This is beneficial for social folks who want open vision and communication throughout a house.

More natural light typically fills an open plan house than closed plans, and often the value of a house increases when remodeled to an open concept.

For the practical parent, it can be easier to monitor children, and spaces can be multifunctional. Children can eat breakfast, play board games, and do homework in one space.

What Is an Open Kitchen Design?

To achieve an open feeling in their homes, many people eliminate walls and doors that used to create separate rooms. Isolated areas for cooking, watching television, and eating are united into open living areas.

Often the kitchen is the centerpiece of an open design alongside a dining room and living space. Such floor plans provide a flow between common areas and accomplish a unified living space. They can give smaller homes the appearance of more space and make communication easier among large families.

How Does It Work

Beautiful interior design of the kitchen

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Options for open kitchens vary by house. If a new home is being built, an open kitchen design can be planned ahead. If a closed kitchen is being remodeled to an open kitchen, walls will have to be removed.

Some homes may get lucky and find that none of the walls that need to be removed are load-bearing walls. If a load-bearing wall needs to be removed, it must be traded out for a strong beam.

When Did This Happen?

Bang for the Buck

Why Choose an Open Kitchen Design?

For every person who prefers an open kitchen design, there is probably another who does not. Why would an open floor plan be the best decision for you?

An open plan will appear more spacious. Older homes often have less square footage and consistently walled rooms. Removing a wall or two can go a long way to opening up the space.

Kitchen Workflow

Professional or DIY?

A Little Noise?

A Little Mess?

A Personal Decision

Questions to Ask before Taking the Leap

Make open kitchen decisions based on practical questions. Do you like to entertain? Are you content to have your guests gathering in your kitchen? Or do you want to do the grunt work behind closed doors?

The Dining Area

The Budget

Breath Deep or Clean More?

What Are Some Open Kitchen Design Ideas?

All the questions you've considered to this point will play into the open kitchen design ideas that fit your wants and needs.

Some families spend more time in the kitchen than any other room, so a design that incorporates a productive kitchen with a comfortable family gathering place. A busy parent can keep an eye on the kids from a distance and be within arms reach of the children's play area or homework station.

The Great Room

A great room is an open kitchen concept that combines the kitchen, dining room, and living room into one great room. The Great Room design is especially attractive to those looking for a social center.

Kitchen-Dining Concept

Kitchen-dining area design concept of the house

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Less drastic than the great room design, merely opening the barrier between the kitchen and dining room allows the kitchen to expand directly into the dining room. This is a good design for folks who do not need a formal dining area.

Add an Island

If you remove the wall between your kitchen and dining room, a casual division can be created with a kitchen island. Practically the island can also supplement storage space in your open kitchen design.

More importantly, the area remains open, but the dining space is still somewhat separate from the cooking area. It is important to treat each area like it's own room. To further denote the dining area, you can add one large focal point, such as a large dining table or hutch.

Focal points in each area can pull the open plan together, such as a couch in the TV area or a chandelier in a more formal area.

Kitchen-Living Concept

kitchen near living room with view of buildings outside the window

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In this design, the kitchen opens directly into the living room. It is easy to serve snacks and drinks directly to casual visitors in the living room during the big game or the movie of the week.

This design is also useful in small apartments by allowing a small kitchen or kitchenette to save space while serving a practical use within the living room.

Open to the Outdoors

Another open kitchen design involves opening your kitchen to the back yard by replacing a large section of the exterior wall with glass doors or oversized windows. The abundant light that brightens your kitchen will be a perk to many homeowners.

This open kitchen design can lead directly to a patio or deck with only glass in between.

Strategies within the Kitchen

Spacious kitchen with a glimpse of dining table and the windows

Your new kitchen will need a few strategic components. Having given up some counter space, be sure to have a usable prep area. This requires easy access to the refrigerator, an area for chopping food, access to the trash, and of course the sink.

In the nearby storage areas be sure you can easily get to your utensils and tools.

Now You're Cooking

With your food prepared, be sure you have a useful cooking space in your plan. Have your spices, utensils, and cookware in easy reach of your stove.

And Cleaning

Open kitchen with a wide space

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It's easy to overlook your cleaning design, but homeowners spend a lot of time cleaning dishes and other kitchen messes. Are your sink, dishwasher, and trash within easy reach of each other?

Is your dish cabinet within arm's length of your sink and strainer? And do your cleaning supplies lend themselves to easy access?

Breakfast Nooks

Open kitchen designs usually lend themselves to less formal dining areas. Conversely, the breakfast nook has become an important part of many open kitchens.

An ideal spot for breakfast or light meals, a breakfast nook usually has seating built into its surrounding near the kitchen. However, a breakfast nook can be accomplished by adding a small table and chairs near any large window; it would be especially effective with a kitchen that opens to the outdoors.

If a window is not available, you can add a bench with pillows along any corner wall across from a small table.

Middle Ground Designs

Middle ground kitchen designs incorporate open kitchen strategies with sculleries or small rooms closed off from the main kitchen. Small rooms can be used for the dirty work, such as doing dishes or even cleaning fish while a larger open kitchen area exists with a small, practical sink and refrigerator.

Middle ground designs are popular with people who like to use the kitchen as a social hub but still want a bit of privacy for dirty dishes and bloody cutting boards.

Turning a walk-in pantry or closet into a scullery is possible. It requires about 40 square feet.

Pass-Through Windows

Homeowners who want to open communication between rooms while not tearing out entire walls sometimes use pass-through windows.

Folding pass-through windows can open your kitchen to the outdoors, such as an outdoor bar. Other pass-through windows open garage-style to your deck or patio.

Barrier Options

Open kitchen with the view of the balcony and the living room

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Rather than using a pass-through window between rooms, some homeowners utilize pocket doors, foldable doors that separate the kitchen from other rooms but can be removed to open the kitchen to other rooms when needed.

These doors often use transparent or translucent glass to allow light and a line of vision throughout rooms.

Peninsulas are also a way to give a level of division between kitchens and other rooms without using a wall. Peninsulas are either lower cabinets only or both lower and upper. Upper peninsula cabinets will sometimes use glass doors to allow a line of sight between rooms.

A bar or counter with stools can also serve a similar purpose. While standard countertops are about 36 inches high, countertops with bar stools need to be at least 40 inches (preferably 46).

Half walls are a final option, similar in height to the raised countertops. This provides a physical barrier but does not block visibility or sound between the kitchen and adjacent rooms.

How Do You Decorate an Open Kitchen?

A true open kitchen design must be decorated as part of a larger space. Your design strategy must be consistent throughout a great room or kitchen-dining area.

It is important that your lighting and accents are planned for a great room and not just an isolated kitchen. Interior decorators can be very helpful in this area, but many homeowners want to choose their own design aesthetic.

Don't be afraid to look for ideas online; Pinterest is often a gold mine.



Purposeful Areas

Open Kitchen Pros and Cons

Modern style dining room

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Open kitchen plans can make small spaces feel larger, and great rooms can literally leave huge areas to be decorated and designed. Removing a wall or two opens the space and tells your brain your house is suddenly bigger than it used to be.

How you will furnish and decorate your open areas is an important question. How will you budget your furniture and decor purchases? Some homeowners may be overwhelmed by a great room that turns out to be too big.

It can also be harder to achieve a feeling of quaint, down-home coziness in an open house. While communication can be easier, an echoing acoustic can feel more like a building than a home. The larger space can also affect heating and air conditioning expenses.




Useable Space


Every homeowner must consider what type of kitchen design is best for their individual needs. Any design has pros and cons, so you have to know yourself and your goals. A great room design may be ideal for family togetherness but not for privacy. Knowing what is important to you will lead you to the best kitchen design.

Featured Image: Image by Kirk Fisher from Pixabay


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