Seating solutions for open plan spaces
When it comes to designing a kitchen and living area, seating is imperative in any home. Here we look at different types and styles that can enhance a multifunctional space.
Open plan living, done properly, is all about being able to seamlessly utilise a single space in order to carry out numerous daily activities. It is where families gather together to cook, to eat, to work, to entertain, and to relax. Seating plays an integral role in making sure the space functions the very best it can, directing people to different parts of the room depending on the circumstance.
Therefore careful planning and consideration into seating styles and layouts is important to enhance the overall performance of the room, and ensure it fits perfectly to your family and your lifestyle, whilst also looking the part.
Seating for all occasions
The most practical seating solution for open plan living, if space allows, is to set up multiple dining zones, to meet the needs of all occasions.
A breakfast bar arrangement is a good way to section open spaces into separate living zones, to give structure and cohesion to the overall layout of the room. Smaller spaces will benefit well from a connected breakfast bar, or a peninsula, that essentially flows as a continuation from the kitchen’s work surface, either along the same plane or perpendicular to the worktop. If the space allows, larger kitchen / diners could be transformed with a free standing island with seating along one side.
A breakfast bar set up with stools that can be tucked away is ideal for informal grazing and quick bites to eat. This type of setup can create a real hub for the home, especially for families with older children and teens, the breakfast bar will quickly become the place for everyone to gather and to mingle, bringing the family together without the formality of a standard dining table. This layout also lends itself well to serving drinks and canapés when entertaining guests, as it encourages them to socialise with you but not encroach on your space when busy in the food preparation area.
For more formal dining, such as family brunches, suppers and dinners, a traditional dining table with individual chairs should take pride of place in the centre of the room. A set which can be used both inside and outside will be a real boon when dining together in the warmer summer months.
Another option which combines the concept of island or peninsula seating with the practicality of formal dining is banquette, or booth, seating. This type of seating can be incorporated at a freestanding dining table, or on one side of an island instead of stools. For families with smaller children that require plenty of supervision banquette seating is a nice option instead of stools as it is safer and provides a semi-contained, comfortable area for children to play or do homework. Built-in bench style seating is also fitting in smaller spaces where lots of dining chairs may appear too cluttered or feel too cramped for visitors to sit comfortably, such in a corner. Look out for those styles where the seat can be lifted up in order to reveal storage space underneath – another benefit in smaller spaces. For more informal gatherings, the table can be pulled into the centre of the room, or into the garden, leaving the bench to function as a sideboard or relaxed seating.
If your space is big enough, you might even want to include a relaxation area with plush armchairs or even a sofa. This can be a lovely addition to a garden room or orangery, providing a place for yourself or guests to relax whilst enjoying the views of the outside, all year round.
When it comes to seating in open plan living spaces, the more options you can provide, the better. Consider combining dining chairs with benches, stools with sofas and armchairs, to make sure there is a seat for everyone and every occasion. These can be strategically placed throughout various areas of the room, to create a sociable and comfortable environment for all the family, and all their guests, which flows with the different activities that take place. Don’t be afraid to be bold and include more seating than you think you might need as a family – especially in a multifunctional, open plan space. Using soft furnishings like cushions and throws throughout the seating can refresh the look to meet the trends of each season as they come and go.