Open Kitchen Design

Opening a kitchen, Open Kitchen Design

Opening a kitchen by removing partition walls can make the space feel larger. Open kitchens are also a more modern way of living in contrast to the small closed kitchens common in older homes and apartments.


Open Kitchen Design

Kitchens in the 20th century were typically small rooms enclosed with walls and doors for entry and exit. In the 21st century we find more people wanting open kitchens. There are many advantages to an open kitchen.

Open kitchens make a space feel bigger. Having a lot of partition walls with smaller rooms makes space feel small. Culture also evolves and cooking is becoming far more popular with young people. Also kitchens today are far more a design feature. People really want to show off their kitchen. The kitchen is now a center piece in home design. All of our new construction work has open kitchens these days. As we renovate older apartments and houses we find the majority of our clients opening their kitchens as well.


Opening A Kitchen

If you want to open your kitchen you should always consult with a licensed architect and have a licensed qualified contractor do the work. The biggest thing to think about is what walls you will remove. Removing a wall to create an open floor plan is serious business. You want to know if the wall is load bearing or has utilities like pipes or ventilation ducts running through it. Relocating these items can sometimes be prohibitive and costly, but depending on your budget and the physical conditions you may be able to do it. Opening a kitchen is one of the most common home and apartment renovation trends we have noticed.


Things To Consider When Opening a Kitchen

Open Kitchen Design Ideas

  • Floor Transitions for open kitchen and living room or dining room
  • Kitchen Islands for open kitchen design
  • Kitchen Details
  • Smoke Soffits (sometimes required by code)


Floor Transition for Open Kitchens

Flooring is very important for open kitchens and their adjoining spaces. The transition between them is important. you probably do not want a saddle between the two like you may find at a doorway especially in older apartments and homes. Nowadays people are installing saddles much less and on an open space they would look silly. I recommend whatever flooring you use make sure the contractor installs them flush to the finish surface so there is a smooth transition between the two. If you use the same flooring for the kitchen and adjoining space like the living room you don’t need to worry about transitions.

It is very common to put 2 different types of materials in the kitchen and the adjoining space. For example prefinished wood floors are common for a living room and porcelain tiles for the kitchen. These are installed differently and have different thickness but you want them flush when they are done. Of course you also want to pick materials that looks good together. don’t be scared of a little contrast. Get samples of materials and lay them down on the floor next to each other to see how they look. Always look at flooring samples with them laying down because the light hits them differently flat on the floor then when they are hanging on a wall in a showroom.

Below is a picture of the floor at an open kitchen in a Brooklyn Apartment Renovation our New York Architecture firm did.

Open Kitchen to living room flooring

Open kitchen to dining room and living room with smooth floor transition porcelain and cherry wood floors. Kitchen open to living room.


Kitchen Islands for Open Kitchen Design Ideas

When you have an open kitchen you can now have a kitchen island. In the kitchen below the sink and dishwasher are in the island. The owner has stools so the island can be used for counter sitting.

Open Kitchen Island Design

Open Kitchen Island with seating and sink


Kitchen Details

Details can make or break a kitchen renovation project. One popular detail is the waterfall countertop or what I usually refer to as countertop side panel. This is when you put a countertop material on the side of the kitchen island as in the picture below. The corners are miter cut and should meet perfectly. You can bookmatch the counter for an even more seamless look. Book match is where they cut the countertop slab and match the two pieces together so the material appears to be continuous.

Waterfall countertop bookmatch

Kitchen Island Waterfall countertop bookmatch detail


Smoke Soffits

 You may want to consider a smoke soffit. The are required for kitchens in NYC if the kitchen does not have a window. The soffit is typically 12″ down from the ceiling around the perimeter of the kitchen. These are meant to prevent the spread of smoke throughout the living space. Most people do not like them but they are required by code in certain places like NY. One tip I have is to use it as a design element and install small LED recessed lights in the soffit.

Open Kitchen smoke soffit with LED lights

Open Kitchen smoke soffit with recessed LED lights (open up kitchen wall)


Opening Up a Kitchen Before and After

In the example below we opened a kitchen in an UWS Manhattan Apartment renovation our architecture firm did. The existing kitchen had a structural column on one side and an exhaust vent on the other. We could not completely open it but we opened the kitchen as much as possible creating a more open feel and making the kitchen a centerpiece of the living space.

Opnening up a kitchen before removing wall

Opening up a kitchen before (knock down wall between kitchen and dining room)


Opening up a kitchen before and after

Opening up a kitchen after removing walls and renovating the kitchen after knocking down a wall between kitchen and dining room and knocking down wall between kitchen and living room


Thank you for reading our blog post on Open Kitchen Designs.

We wish you the best of luck with your kitchen design. Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss your project with an architect you can Contact Fontan Architecture directly. We are always happy to hear about your upcoming projects.


This post was writen by Jorge Fontan, a Registered Architect and owner of Fontan Architecture.

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