Ashley Interiors, Inc. Industry Info

(510) 898-6591
5588 Central Avenue, Suite D
Newark, CA 94560
Ashley Interiors recently designed this kitchen.
If you’re considering a home remodeling project, consider combining your kitchen and living space.

In the past, kitchens were considered utility areas, but today, they’re often showpieces of homes—inviting, beautiful areas that integrate food and entertainment. Unfortunately, many people are still living in outdated homes with kitchens that are tucked away, hidden behind walls, and kept separate from living rooms and entertainment hubs.

“Openness and connection inside the home are so important,” says Robert Clifford, president of Building Pros in Danville. “Homeowners want their kitchens to connect with their living spaces so they can use the whole space as an entertainment area to bring food and family together.”

Real estate and construction experts agree that the preference for open floor plans is more than simply a trend—it’s evidence of a lifestyle shift and is likely to become even more important in the future. So, what should you consider if you live in a home with a closed-off kitchen?

Learn about the pros and cons of combining kitchens and living spaces. Open floor plans combine more than one room to create a larger space with multiple uses. One of the most popular open floor plan formats is a combination kitchen, dining room and living room.

Benefits of open floor plans:

  • Better traffic patterns, distribution of natural lighting, and use of kitchens and living rooms.
  • Highlight great views, interesting architecture and home features.
  • Homes feel bigger without adding square footage.
  • More connectedness to family and friends. No one is stuck alone in the kitchen—the lack of barriers lets you cook and clean while keeping up with company, visiting with family, and watching children.

There are plenty of reasons to consider an open floor plan, but they aren’t a good fit for every home. Before making the transition, think about these possible drawbacks to opening up wall space:

There’s less privacy. If you like smaller, quiet spaces, you may not want to combine rooms.

It’s harder to hide or prevent messes. Open format homes make it impossible to close off a messy kitchen or hide the everyday clutter of the living room.

Noise can be a factor. Whether entertaining a large group or immediate family, having no walls means less containment of sound. Kitchen noise will travel to the dining room, and living room sounds can disturb dining space.

When it comes to remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, make sure you consider all your options in terms of decoration.

Recently, the kitchen and bathroom remodeling industry has seen an increase in the demand for customized products that allow homeowners to make their spaces reflect their tastes and lifestyles. “This is especially true with cabinets,” says Donna Ashley, co-owner of Ashley Interiors, Inc. in Newark. “There’s a huge spectrum of designs and colors that the industry could hardly imagine years ago. For example, gray tones, whites and French contemporary are very popular right now. Glossy finishes and non-traditional looks are also in style. There are more flashy tile backsplashes, stainless steel products and modern finishes.”

Mrs. Ashley explains that design styles are often cyclical, and the new generation of homebuyers is warming up to a modernized look. “Some of the materials are very modern or contemporary, but some are just modernized approaches to older looks,” she says. “For example, painted cabinets were very popular for a long time, and now they’ve come back into style. Lighter colors were in about 20 years ago, and now they’re trendy again.”

But all of those options in materials, finishes, styles, brands and price points can be daunting if you’re not used to making such decisions. Regardless of your personal style, you should find a contractor who’s willing and able to match your preferences in terms of style, color, options, and materials. Mrs. Ashley says they should also be able to guide you through the bevy of options you face at every turn. “Designers and contractors should be willing to help narrow down choices for their clients, because it can be overwhelming. For some people, this means presenting a limited number of top options or brands, while for others, it means assisting them in making those choices.”

The best place to start is determining your budget, color and material preferences, as well as the style of design or items you like. That way, when you talk with your contractor, you can start narrowing down your likes and dislikes from the first conversation. Then, be honest about how much assistance you need when it comes to making decisions.