Why the Open Kitchen Design is Here to Stay

Photography by Lisa Russman

There are always design trends that come and go, but some seem destined to remain a part of the design landscape. The open kitchen is one design trend that has a long history and is not going anywhere any time soon. Why is this design so popular? And what are the best new open kitchen design ideas being used? And what do we mean, exactly, by “open kitchen” anyway? 

What is an Open Kitchen Layout?
In general, open-concept spaces, whether they be a kitchen or another room, are defined by their elimination of barriers that separate them from other functional areas of the home. In most houses, the open kitchen combines with a dining area, a living room, the outdoors, or some other configuration of space that allows the family to be together whether they are eating, meal prepping, cleaning, or doing other activities. Today’s open kitchen design is often the heart of the “great room,” which usually is some mash-up of a family/living room, eating area, kitchen, and possible other multi-purpose spaces. 

Why this Design Trend Has Lasted
One of the reasons the open kitchen evolved is because the notion of formal dining spaces has been replaced by less-formal, more family-friendly and social-friendly rooms. Families today want comfortable cooking spaces that allow them to interact with others, and the open kitchen is perfect for keeping an eye on homework while preparing lunches or for chatting with your little ones while you clean up after dinner. 

The open floor plan is also favored by those who like to entertain, providing a casual but connected feeling that invites people to enjoy your home and feel at ease. As home footprints are decreasing in size, the open kitchen layout and great room model makes even more sense, as rooms serve many different functions throughout a given day. 

The Latest in Open Kitchen Design Ideas
One of the problems with having an open-concept kitchen is the need to keep it clean and tidy, especially when you are entertaining. When you can see the kitchen from every part of the great room, it becomes a necessity to have space for messes, food prep, and other tasks you do not necessarily want the world to see. Walk-in pantries, butler’s pantries, and other “behind the scenes” areas are perfect for maintaining the open-concept feel while keeping clutter or prep work out of sight as well as out of reach of little fingers.

Many modern open kitchens are also doing away with upper cabinets, which allows you to have more windows, decorative design pieces, or open shelving. With innovations in lower cabinetry, including much more practical use of drawers and shelves that maximize every inch of space, and as more people are learning to live with less, the added storage is not as necessary as it once was. Sometimes called an “unkitchen,” which is characterized by a lack of upper cabinets, your open kitchen may have no built-in cabinets at all, and a feeling much more akin to a living room than a standard kitchen.

Instead of linking your open kitchen to the family room, why not consider opening it up to the backyard, a wall of windows, or a sunroom? If you live in a climate where your outdoor space can be used a good portion of the year, why not make it part of your living and cooking area? And a sure way to get more use from your yard is to link it directly with your kitchen. You will get the benefit of more natural light as well as an open kitchen that changes with the seasons. 

What’s next in open kitchen design ideas? The sky seems to be the limit, but one thing remains clear. The open kitchen layout is here to stay.