Welcome to the Plumis fire protection blog. Stay informed about domestic fire safety, fire building regulations and ADB-compliant solutions for open plan living. Please feel free to browse through the posts and comment about what you read.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The emergence of the open plan kitchen diners in the UK

Sprawling, bright living spaces have become a modern trend with the number of kitchen-diners rising by almost 50 per cent in the past decade.

One in three homes now features a kitchen-diner, and one in five Brits plans to blend their separate living room and cooking spaces into a single area, a survey found.
The growing popularity of open plan spaces applies to all types of property from new homes to Edwardian, Victorian, and Georgian era houses, according to the survey of 2,000 home owners.

One third of all work carried out on period properties was to create an open plan kitchen and dining room, while one in three applications lodged at eight randomly chosen councils related to opening up indoor space.

One in ten home owners has spent more than £35,000 making alterations in the past ten years, with half of those spending more than £50,000.

But of those who tried to convert their homes, one in five caused damage in the process costing an average of £8,000.

A separate survey predicted in 2008 that the traditional dining room with a dinner table and special cutlery could become obsolete by 2020.

Simon Hamilton, International Director at the British Institute of Interior Design, said: "The inside of homes are starting to look very different. Houses, especially older ones, were designed with set rooms for set activities.

Paula Llewellyn, of Lloyds TSB Home Insurance, which commissioned the new survey, said: "Rather than moving, people are adjusting their own property to create their dream home and the living space they need.

"It's clear to see that open plan living is what modern families want."

What do you need to think about when designing an open plan kitchen?

You really have to consider all the activities that will take place in the room, and how they can work together in harmony. Preparing meals, watching television, surfing the net, doing homework, paying the bills, relaxing with a magazine and chatting with friends – you have to make sure these can all happily co-exist in your open plan kitchen.

To cater for all these different needs, it’s always best to create an individual, custom-built kitchen. And to do that, it’s wise to choose an experienced designer. An experienced kitchen designer is used to helping homeowners maximise the space and functionality of a room and ensure there is a seamless feel between all parts.

What are the practical considerations?

Open plan layouts often struggle to meet building regulations requirements for fire safety: the regulations are very prescriptive in nature and often mandate undesirable compartmentation. UK regulations allow the use of fire suppression to compensate for poor compartmentation, but many homeowners instead opt for the cheap solution: create a protected corridor, have Building Control sign it off, and remove this “dummy wall” shortly afterwards. This leaves everyone uncomfortable, with homeowners paying for pointless and illegal changes to their home and loft converters risking their reputation. 

Approved Document B, offers an alternative stating that:

Fire safety engineering is a recognised method of achieving adequate fire safety in a building. It takes into account the entire fire safety engineering package and is sometimes the only viable method of achieving a satisfactory standard of fire safety in popular open-plan kitchen-diners.

It is this approach that can often be coupled with a volume protection system to ensure homeowners can create real value in their homes without aesthetic trade-offs and Building Control officers can be assured that a modified home is a safe living environment with no limitations on use that may eventually be circumvented by the occupier.


  1. Hi there Safety Officer,

    Could you tell me what your source for the following is: "One in three homes now features a kitchen-diner, and one in five Brits plans to blend their separate living room and cooking spaces into a single area, a survey found."? I was looking for data on this - number of households with a kitchen / diner - and hit a blank wall intially.



    1. Hi Anthony,

      Here is the source:

      Best regards,

      The Safety Officer