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Should we make our home completely open plan?

We're really short of space and are planning to build a small extension to create a kitchen, dining and family area to the back of the house.

We're tempted to remove the wall between the living area and stairs also to go completely open plan.

What do you think?

A single space combining the functions of cooking, eating and relaxing is top of many people's priorities nowadays.

The most important decision in this space is where to locate the kitchen.

Ideally it will not be the first thing you see when you enter the space and will be located in such a way as to allow the dining or sitting areas to overlook the garden.

A simple recycling extractor hood will combat issues of cooking smells.

Whilst the idea of opening up more walls may seem appealing in terms of space and light, it would be prudent to retain even a small, separate sitting area if possible.

This could be either a quiet adult area or even a children's play area, depending on the size and stage of your family.

Double doors between this area and the open-plan space to the rear could provide increased flexibility and an improved sense of space and light when needed.

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The issue of eliminating the hall should be given careful consideration. In Ireland, it is preferable to retain some form of lobby between the outside and inside spaces in terms of simple heat control.

This could be an external porch or a smaller hall inside.

Integrating the stairs with the living areas will also give rise to issues of heat control within the house. Warm, heated air will rise up the stairs, making the ground floor more difficult to heat and increase your energy bills.

You would also be eliminating the acoustic separation the hall provides between the living and sleeping spaces. Again, this could be problematic depending on your family's stage.

If you still feel an entirely open-plan home is best for you, seek the advice of an architect who will be able to advise how best to lay out the space and accommodate the different functions.

Expertly handled, open-plan living can create an unbeatable sense of luxury and a wonderful flow of space and light.

You can find a registered architect on www.riai.ie. Eva Byrne is an RIAI registered architect and founder of houseology, the house design consultancy


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