When we bought our house, all the rooms on the main floor were separated by small openings like this:
One of the first things we did was widen those doorways to open up the space and let in more light. In this case we removed the entire wall between the kitchen and dining room …
… making it one large space divided by a peninsula.
This peninsula is always the hub of our parties. If the party is especially big, I put snacks in the living room in an attempt to disperse the crowd, but everyone still congregates here. At least I can work in the kitchen without leaving the party.
We sacrificed a separate, formal dining room, but I don’t miss it. Being in the thick of things, our dining room gets a lot more use. Besides, around here, rooms I don’t pass regularly tend to, ahem,
look like hoarder’s heaven accumulate things.
As for the peninsula, it gives us additional workspace, (lots of space for cookie sheets — think piles of chips and cookies), does double duty as a buffet, and is perfect for quick meals. It’s also great for crafts, homework, skyping, company while you’re cooking, and pretending you’re at a diner (which my son does every morning. His grandmother is all too happy to
spoil him play short order cook). Eggs over easy with a side of bacon, please.
So how wide do you want the opening between the living room and dining room? Pete said. He was probably standing there revving the Sawz-all, (which, if you don’t know, is a big saw that, well, saws all), waiting for an answer. No pressure. It was like this a lot during most of our renovation. Too many decisions and not enough time to think.
I knew I wanted it bigger. How much bigger in feet and inches, I had no idea. My brain was already spinning with fixtures, standards, flooring, lighting … . I didn’t have any hard criteria, so I based my decision loosely on the size of the room and the proportions of other architectural elements, pretending that my undergraduate degree in interior design was providing some useful insight. It was a stab in the dark.
I should’ve thought more about how the rooms on either side of the opening would function — furniture placement and how it would affect traffic going through the room. I probably could’ve used a little more wall space in the living room.
Half walls have the advantage of being visually open without sacrificing as much wall space. We did this for the entrance from foyer to living room.
I love that you can see so much of the house when you walk in. See how we finished the half wall here.
Open or closed floor plan — Do you have a preference?