Open Plan Family Room Heaven-Or Hell?

Whilst living in my first ‘grown-up’ home, I became a mother. I watched my baby son sprout into a gangly boy, and added one fierce little girl to the mix. These tiny forces of nature rip through my once serene and pristine (kind of) home getting into everything. Two small additions have brought about massive changes in me, and I’ve come to realise that my original checklist of what amounts to the perfect home has completely reshaped too. Top of that list? An open plan family room…


When I set my eyes on lucky viewing number 50 (yes, my first home was no less than the 50th house I viewed… that probably tells you a lot about me), I instantly knew it was the one because it ticked all of those wish list boxes I’d created 10 years ago from a child free position. Don’t get me wrong, I did think ahead, I wanted 3 bedrooms and a couple of reception rooms so there’d be plenty of room for a potential family. I even squeezed in an extra loo under the stairs, which was the best decision ever for both pregnancy and toilet training. If you have the space, install one. You can thank me later.

The thing I didn’t bank on was that the stretched hallway and tall staircase of this terrace house that was initially so appealing would become an absolute pain in my bum absolutely exhausting. Ushering two hyper kids up and down its three split levels, usually with a massive basket of laundry on one hip, isn’t a whole barrel of laughs. After completing several laps of this indoor marathon to get us dressed, fed, packed and out, I now hit the school run with an off-putting unhinged glint in my eye under the sweaty glow of desperation.

It feels nothing short of a mad miracle when we all manage to spill out of the front door red-faced and untucked. Weekends leave me wondering if it’s even worth the battle at all.

Open Plan Family Room Layout

This is why I’m now hankering after a home with an open plan family room, where the kitchen overlooks a lounge or play space. This amalgamation would mean that I get to be part of family fun (aka kid referee) whilst being a domestic goddess (you who know me can now laugh), as hearing that intoxicating laughter way, wayyy down the hallway whilst I’m on dish duty makes me want to chuck in the towel.

New tick-box number one for our next home on the horizon is a small open plan family space. A combined kitchen-lounge area with a dinky dining nook, or a maybe just a complete knock through to connect lounge, dining room, and kitchen. As long as I can see the kids set up with crafts/action figures on the dining room table, or chilling on the sofa I’ll be set.

Designer: Jeff King & Company

Room Proportions for an Open Plan Family Room

I’m not seeking a huge space as this wouldn’t scratch the itch at all – what I’m hankering for are practical proportions to house the family areas that we need, whilst holding everything connected and cosy.

I imagine myself frisbeeing the breakfast dishes from a mini kitchen island or peninsula onto a farmhouse style dining table with comfy banquette seating, or casual dining benches. Nearby, my kids could be building cushion dens on the sofa to a their own chaotic soundtrack, whilst I yell at them to put it all back. Ahh, bliss.

Source: Nesting With Grace

Garden Room

The last piece of the open plan family room puzzle would be a set of glass doors that open out onto a modest garden. A garden is something that we’ve sadly lacked in our mid-terraced home. A sans-garden house was a conscious choice made whilst child-free, with a social life and no time or inclination to mow a lawn. Boy do I regret that choice now. To see my children run wild around their grandparents garden, then return to nothing more than a narrow grey slab of concrete is crushing.

Hmm, I’m realising now that a garden is actually joint number one on my list of new house ‘demands’. In my personal vision of our family’s ideal home, an interior and exterior family space definitely go hand in hand, one would just not hit the dream mark without the other. More on my vision for a family-friendly garden in a future article.

Designer: Egon Walesch | Photographer: Alison Hammond

Moving House

I do still appreciate the stretched layout of single use rooms in a ‘traditional’ house, but I just can’t help imagining life in spaces that flow into each other. A place where family activities meet and mingle rather than segregate and stop. The grass is always greener in someone else’s garden.

I know undoubtedly there will be times when I’ll be desperate to just have some bloomin’ peace in the kitchen, when the kids are screaming at full pitch, hanging onto my legs, or trying to climb inside the dishwasher. I also know that seeing our belongings all packed up and this first home of ours standing empty will move me to tears. I know I’ll think of how I brought both of my children home from hospital and set them down safely in that living room, and of how they were fed their first solid food in that kitchen and pulled their surprised little faces.

However, I also know that life will be enriched by the home I see for us in my daydreams.

So there we have it, an open plan family room, tick-box number one all set. I’ll explore my other wish list bits soon, and there are quite a few. If I ever do find my new dream house it’s got a good chance of being lucky number 500…