houses, small spaces

Q&A: Rochester

Courtesy of Rochester


Rochester’s Anton Odendaal offers some sound advice on how to choose the perfect furniture for open-plan areas in your home.

How have things changed from a time when open-plan living was unconventional, to now?

Over the past 10 to 20 years, open-plan living has become a mainstream architectural trend. In many modern homes the kitchen, living room, dining room and patio are designed to flow seamlessly together. In studio apartments, even the bedroom is part of the living area and often the dining area doubles up as a home office. Almost all newly built houses are designed with free-flowing spaces at the core of the building philosophy.

Why is that?

Architecture, just like the rest of our contemporary lifestyle, is about comfort, convenience and saving time. Open-plan living areas provide easy access to different zones in the home. The awareness of sustainability and saving energy further endorses open-plan living, as this design style tends to optimise natural light and ventilation.

Are there any disadvantages to open-plan living?

There are very few drawbacks to open-plan living areas. These include heat loss, less privacy and noise. However, there are many benefits, such as the following:

  • Fewer walls mean less wasted space: There’s no need for passages, which saves on building costs. As said, it also translates into more natural light and ventilation.
  • The sunny atmosphere created by natural light flooding free-flowing spaces is the most appealing quality of open-plan architecture. For example, cooking alone in a stuffy kitchen is never fun for anyone, but with open-plan living areas, there is no need to cook in solitude anymore. The flexibility offered by open-plan living spaces fits in well with our zeitgeist of informal living and less rigid roles of family members.
  • One large room allows for flexible floor plans for furniture placement. You can change, shuffle or combine work, leisure and dining areas with very little effort, giving you more creative and practical options.

How do you create a relaxed yet elegant open-plan living area?

It is advisable to decorate the space as a whole. This will strengthen the desired free-flowing look and feel of the space. By not doing so, the different zones won’t blend seamlessly and could end up looking messy and disjointed. Similar to garden design and architecture, you start by planning the whole project, then you can execute it over time.

Are there any basic decor guidelines one should follow?

Furniture doesn’t have to be from the same range, but it should at least be of similar style. You should also choose furniture in proportion to the space. If it is a very big area, then go for chunky furniture, such as an L-shaped sofa with oversized arms. One should use furniture made from the same type of wood, or at least wood that is the same colour throughout the space. Also remember that leather and earth tones go well with any colour wood. Bear in mind that while upholstery patterns and textures can differ, you should stick to a specific colour scheme, such as earth tones, beige or grey. Lastly, use loose rugs in the various spaces to create warmth and to define the specific zones and use ornaments and artworks to add personality and create a more lived-in feel.

For more information about Rochester, visit rochester.co.za.