Craving Chaos: Open Plan Family Room Heaven

During our time in our current home, We’ve watched our baby son transform into a boisterous little boy, and more recently added a baby girl into the mix. The tiny tornadoes rip through our once serene home, getting up to and into, well, everything. Two dinky additions in our lives have brought about massive changes in us, and I’ve come to realise that my (long) list of what should create the perfect home for us has completely transformed too. Top of that list? An open plan family room…


Practicality

When we set our eyes on our lucky number 50 (yes, our first home was no less than the 50th house we viewed… that probably tells you a lot about me) we knew it was the one for us because it ticked all of those wish-list boxes we had created 5 years ago, then as a child free couple. Don’t get me wrong, we did think ahead, we wanted no less than 3 bedrooms and a couple of reception rooms, so plenty of room for a potential family.

The thing I didn’t bank on was that the stretched hallway and tall staircase of this terrace house that was initially so appealing to us would become absolutely exhausting when carrying a large wriggling child on one hip–and usually a massive basket of laundry on the other. After completing several clumsy laps of our indoor mini marathon to get us dressed, fed, packed and out I now present myself to the world with a somewhat unhinged glint in my eye and a bedraggled ‘glow’. It feels nothing short of a messy miracle when we finally manage to spill out of our front door in a desperately undignified manner, with me wondering if it was even worth the battle at all.

Quick tasks such as switching off the cooker, or grabbing a drink for the little ones whilst they sit mesmerised by CBeebies, becomes a panicked heart pounding sprint riddled with thoughts that the little chimps may somehow be swinging from the light fixture the very second my back is turned.

Open Plan Family Room Layout

These are the reasons I am now dreaming of a home with an open plan family room where the kitchen overlooks a lounge/play space. This amalgamation would mean that I get to be part of family fun whilst being a domestic goddess (those of you who know me in ‘real life’ may now laugh), as hearing those magical giggles way, wayyy down the hallway when I’m on dish duty just makes me want to chuck in the towel.

Via Decoist, by Martha O’Hara Interiors

New tick-box number one for our dream home (whether the property search becomes reality or not) would be a small open plan family room/combined kitchen-lounge area, with possibly a dinky dining area squished in a nook.

Room Proportions for an Open Plan Family Room

I’m not seeking a huge space as this wouldn’t scratch the itch at all – what I’m hankering for are perfect proportions that allow the social areas we need whilst holding everything cute and cozy.

I see myself frisbeeing the breakfast dishes from a small kitchen island onto a casual table surrounded by banquette seating, whilst my kids cushion fight on the couch to a chaotic cartoon soundtrack: hell to some but heaven to me.

Garden Room

The last piece of this open plan family room puzzle would be glass doors that open out onto a garden. A garden is something that we are sadly lacking in our mid-terraced home. A sans-garden house was a conscious choice we made as a child-free couple with a social life and no time, or inclination, to mow a lawn. Boy do I regret that choice now. To see my child’s sheer delight in running around his grandparents garden, then return to nothing more than a narrow grey slab of concrete is crushing.

Hmm, I’m realising now that a garden is actually joint number one on my list of new house ‘demands’. In my own personal vision of an ideal home for our particular little family, an interior and exterior family space definitely go hand in hand, one would just not hit the dream mark without the other. More on my vision for a family-friendly garden in a future article.

Moving House

I do still appreciate the stretched layout of our single use rooms in this house, but I just can’t help imagining life in spaces that flow into each other; where family activities meet and embrace rather than segregate and stop. The grass is always greener in someone else’s garden.


Via Houzz

I know that there would be times when I’d long to have some peace in the kitchen when the kids are screaming at full pitch. I also know that seeing our belongings all packed up and this first home of ours standing empty would move me to tears. I know I’d think of how we brought both of our children home from hospital and set them down safely in that living room, and of how we fed them their first solid food in that kitchen and giggled at their surprised little faces.

However, I also know that our family life could be so much more enriched by the home I see in my daydreams.

 

So there we have it, an open plan family room, tick-box number one all set. I’ll explore my other wish list bits soon, and there are quite a few. If we ever do go in search of our new dream house it’s got a good chance of being our lucky number 500…

 

Emma McLaughlan
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Emma McLaughlan
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  • Kari milberg

    Love it!

  • Ann

    Emma ,as usual, a very informative article. A family room with everything in one area would cut down on exercise!! You wouldn’t be running up and down the stairs BUT you would have your little boy in your sight all the time—–and what a beautiful sight he is.

    • Indeed, I’m still dreaming of an open plan family room – even more so now that I have just injured my foot, and hobbling after a toddler is a painful business!