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  • Sarah Farrington

Designing an open plan space

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

My open plan living room on the Gamekeeper's Lodge project is 15m long by 7m wide, it narrows at the kitchen and sitting areas to 5m. I wanted to create continuity within the room and maintain its openness which is enhanced by the windows and views on both sides and the vaulted ceiling but I also wanted to allow the areas within the space dedicated to kitchen, dining and lounge to feel complete in themselves.

Oak Trusses

Using the features of the build can help focus the layout. The starting point for this design was the two large feature oak trusses which provide a focal point and handily divide the room into three virtually equal areas. Using the central area for the dining table with its stunning view of the lake makes for an instant impact on entering the room.

Keeping the edge of the kitchen island in line below an oak truss on one side of the dining area and the lounge contained by the other oak truss means each area has a dedicated space in the large open plan area.

A three side log burner sits just behind the oak truss in the living area, making the fireplace firmly part of this space and providing an elegant room divider. Its' exposed black flue complements the industrial feel of the grey steel on the oak trusses. Keeping the top of the fireplace below the lighting fittings maintains the feeling of one large open plan room and by hanging the same glass pendants over the coffee table in the lounge as over the dining table adds to the feeling of continuity in the space.

The change in lighting over the breakfast bar and the oak truss above it firmly marks the start of the kitchen area.

Lighting in an open plan space

Cohesiveness in an open plan room is important. Spaces are linked here with different styles of lighting in one colour and vice versa using different colours on the same style of light. Below the clay coloured spotlights either side of the large mirror link to the clay wall lights either side of the art. Then the same wall light appears over a nearby picture but in a polished grey.

These polished lights contrast with the matt finish on the oversized, industrial, slate pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island.

The shape of the kitchen island pendants was followed down the central line of the beam with four large glass pendants hanging over the dining and coffee areas. I chose glass here so as not to interrupt the views of the lake and countryside beyond from the dining table and sofas.

Using all glass lights allows the light to reflect up into the vaulted ceiling where as with the kitchen pendants I wanted to focus the light down onto the interesting river washed wood by Spekva used for the breakfast bar.

Lighting at Gamekeepers Lodge
Jim Lawrence Lexington Pendants are dramatic, they cast a beautiful glow on the breakfast bar

Spekva, river washed, white oiled wood.... simply stunning

Porcelain Tiled Floor

It might sound obvious but keeping the same flooring throughout an open plan room and into any linking hallways or cloakrooms also makes the space feel unified and bigger as does using a large format Porcelain floor tile, we chose 1.2m x 0.6m tiles in a light sandstone colour with minimum repeat pattern on the tiles to make the floor a work of art in itself. Large tiles allow for less joints and grout which aswell the obvious cleanliness benefits also makes the space feel fresh and uncluttered. Contemporary and elegant choice. Perfect with underfloor heating too.

A cohesive space

Designing space that feels cohesive is down to just a few key things:

  • Choose a colour story - this will help the space flow. Anthracite grey is core to the very design of this contemporary new build from the exposed steels of the external balcony supports to the feature oak trusses so for me this was an easy start to the story. This is my primary influence throughout the whole house and is combined with other neutral creams and greys to create a calm palette. In the open plan living room I'm slowly adding coral as my accent colour. It features subtly on my main piece of art and on many other of my favourite items so is easy to follow though and combines softly with the brushed brass which is my chosen metal finish for kitchen handles, lighting vases and fruit bowls.

  • Repeating materials - this can be as simple as keeping one type of wood thoughout all furnishings. In designing Gamekeeper's, a house in the woodland, my natural choice was oak. All the bedrooms have the same oak bed frame, window cills are all oak as are the large coffee tables and the dining table. The items don't have to match but having the same texture and colour pulls the whole house together.

  • Mixing metals to enhance both colour and repeating materials really pulls a home together. I used either antique brass or matt black light fittings throughout the house. The bathroom fittings are brushed brass or matt black. Door handles and hinges are matt black as are the picture frames.

All in all keeping an open plan feel, tying the parts of the room together with similar lighting and colours whilst maintaining three distinct spaces for cooking, eating and lounging has worked well in the feature room at

Source book

Lighting all sourced from Jim Lawrence

Landsdown glass pendants hang a full metre from the vaulted ceiling over the coffee table and dining table.

Aldgate wall lights in clay and polished continue the industrial edge to the open plan living space.

Albion spotlights in clay have a cut out design which throws maximum light onto the sofa and armchair for reading. They can be rotated and angled to shine on the mirror or downwards.

Kitchen by Harvey Jones, Arbour range

Mirror from The White Company

Dining table by Hartmann Mobelwerke

Fireplace is Sparthem from CK Fires in Clifford Chambers

Lobster painting by Evi Antoniou

Topiary Rabbit by Joanna Ham

Bespoke oak beams made on site by talented carpenter !

Paint by Farrow and Ball - Cornforth White, De Nimes and Strong White

If you would like advice on interior design or project management for your open plan space, then I would love to hear from you

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