So you’ve got a kitchen, and you’ve got a dining room. But what you want is a larger, more spacious area that combines the two. That sounds easy enough, but there's a bit more work needed before you hire a contractor and give him your kitchen renovation ideas.
Open-concept living was popularized in the 80s and 90s, and many homeowners with older houses, still long for that roomy feel. Regardless of the architectural style of your home, you can likely have what you want. Most contractors can make the appropriate alterations to bring your vision to life. But before you start choosing paint colors, there are a few other things to consider.
Here are three important factors to consider when creating an open-concept kitchen and dining area from two separate rooms. By thinking through these requirements, you can avoid costly problems.
Kitchen Renovation Ideas #1: Structural Considerations
There’s more to creating an open-concept kitchen and dining room area than knocking down a wall. Walls are part of your home’s structural integrity. When the original plans were drawn up before your home was built, every wall had a purpose in bearing some of the load of the rest of the house.
Before removing a wall, you’ll need to consult with a structural expert such as an architect or engineer. This doesn’t mean you have to hand over the entire project but you should get advice. It might just make sense to have them draw up new plans for the safe removal of the wall.
In some homes, you may not have the option of removing the wall entirely without adding some other supporting element. This isn’t a limitation of the builder or contractor, but a limitation of the home’s unique structure which you need to factor in with your other kitchen renovation ideas.
Just because you can't remove a wall doesn't mean you can't find more space to make your kitchen larger. On more than one occasion I've pushed through a kitchen wall for a refrigerator or even a wall of pantry style cabinets to get a foot from the dining room next door. This is often your only option when ceilings are too low to add structural support.
With high ceilings you might get what you want with additional ceiling joists. Alternatively you can add support columns or half walls inside the room to help support the ceiling and/or upper floor. With websites like Pinterest, you can look for more creative solutions than just removing a wall, and you'll end up with something that's perfect and unique to your home.
Kitchen Renovation Ideas #2: Creating Continuity
Continuity is part of the appeal of open-concept living, but there’s more to it than opening up the space. You’ll see the full kitchen and full dining room from every angle within the space, so you may need to replace items to get the look that you want.
Flooring is a big consideration. It’s possible to have hard flooring such as tile or wood in the kitchen, and softer flooring such as carpeting, in the dining area while keeping that cohesive feel. You’ll need an attractive transition between the two, such as a woodgrain transition strip, to bridge the seam.
Using the same flooring throughout the kitchen and dining areas can help blend the two spaces together, erasing all signs that they were once two separate rooms. So you might want to add this to your list of upgrades.
Walls are another issue. Kitchens work well with easy-to-clean paint such as eggshell or even a satin finish that has some sheen. But you might not want a sheen in the dining room. Wallpapering both rooms can help blend the two together.
Other considerations are lighting, window coverings, and furnishings. You’ll probably want a different light source over the dining table than you have in the kitchen, but it should complement the kitchen lighting in both finish and style.
Window coverings are easy enough to blend through both rooms. Plantation blinds are attractive in kitchens and dining areas, and in fact every room in the house. If you prefer drapes in the dining room, you can carry the theme in the kitchen using a cornice with the same fabric.
Kitchen Renovation Ideas #3: Open Concept Issues
With every good thing, there is usually a downside. Open concept living can help make two small spaces feel much larger and more inviting, but that's not always as great as it sounds.
Kitchens are busy rooms, and they collect clutter fast. Just as you’ll see all of the decorative elements of the space from every angle, you’ll also see the things you might not want to see.
With an open-concept kitchen and dining room, you should rethink kitchen efficiency. What features can you add to keep the kitchen tidy so you don't have to worry about seeing dirty dishes in the sink or food containers on the counter each time you sit down for a meal.
The same applies for the dining room. Backpacks, purses, and jackets have a tendency to land on dining room chairs, which can make your open concept space look cluttered. Create a new, convenient home for these items, such as a bench with hooks by the door or a new closet, and your dining room won’t fall prey to after school and after work clutter.
An open-concept kitchen and dining area can work, whether your home is an old farmhouse in the country or a new-construction suburban house near the city. It might not be a simple conversion, but you can likely get the look you're after, or at least something reasonably close.
Always speak to a professional before committing to a major renovation such as this one. Structural considerations are probably the most important wrinkle to iron out, and for that you want the best advice. The time of an expert is worth its weight in gold, allowing you to enjoy trouble-free living for years to come.
What kitchen renovation ideas are you exploring to create an open-concept space?
I love open kitchens. Would love to have one in my house.