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Fresh Design Ideas for Open-Plan Kitchens and Living Spaces

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Fresh Design Ideas for Open-Plan Kitchens and Living Spaces

Pro Builder's House Review team offers ways home builders can update and improve the design of open-plan kitchen, dining, living spaces

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer June 3, 2023
Kitchen in DTJ Design's Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150
The kitchen in DTJ Design's Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150 includes a back kitchen to hide culinary messes. Scroll down to see more photos of the project and other kitchen design ideas.
This article first appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of Pro Builder.

The kitchen is almost universally recognized as the focal point of our homes. And because it’s where everyone seems to congregate, the space must function not only as a food preparation area but also as the hub of activity for family and friends. 

While the recent tendency to combine the kitchen, dining, and living areas into essentially one large space remains popular, some subtle adjustments are being considered. To reduce the noise and visual clutter of the kitchen, nearby living rooms are becoming more defined with varying ceiling heights and full-height walls. Another design approach includes a “back” or “messy” kitchen that offers ample counter space and cabinet storage and often has an extra sink, dishwasher, and perhaps some small appliances. 

Of course, spacious pantries and access to outdoor entertaining areas continue to be high on buyers’ wish lists—all of which our design team presents in homes ranging from a renovated single-family unit to an attached townhome.


Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150 

DESIGNER: Seth Hart, DTJ Designshart@dtjdesign.com, 303.443.7533

DIMENSIONS: Width: 50 feet / Depth: 75 feet / Living area: 3,982 sf

Designed with connection and entertainment in mind, this kitchen delivers big on both fronts while functioning as the heart of the home.

The kitchen/dining space in DTJ Design's Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150


The L-shaped living configuration, with the dining to the side (shown in photo, above) and the living area to the rear, places the kitchen at the center of the action and serves as the lifestyle hub, no matter the occasion.

Seating is provided on two sides of the island to help facilitate conversation, so whether it’s casual dining or hosting a cocktail party, this kitchen has you covered. 

A “back” kitchen functions as an extra work station/tech space or dirty/catering kitchen and boasts a huge walk-in pantry for a variety of storage needs.

Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150 kitchen design by DTJ Design

A  10-by-5-foot island with seating

B  Walk-in pantry/Costco closet

C  Back kitchen/flex space offers flexibility for a variety of lifestyle needs

Barn door provides privacy in the back kitchen (images, below) for taking a call or hiding dirty dishes

The kitchen and view to the back kitchen in DTJ Design's Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150


The kitchen in DTJ Design's Westerly Premier Collection, Plan 6150


Silver Lake Residence

DESIGNER: Yonatan Pressman, Studio Pressman, hello@studiopressman.com, 818.929.4046

DIMENSIONS: Width: 24 feet, 4 inches / Depth: 58 feet, 2 inches / Living area: 2,711 sf

The homeowners, a young family, had outgrown their cramped, century-old, 1,400-square-foot hillside bungalow in the coveted Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. The principal goals of the renovation were to create a kitchen that would be the center of life in the house and primary guest suites.

Studio Pressman Silver Lake residence kitchen remodel
The kitchen and dining spaces receive abundant natural light from several skylights. / Photos: Sara Tramp, Tramp Studio

While the existing home had just a few Spanish touches—a stucco finish and a few terra-cotta, barrel roof tiles—the immediate neighborhood had several examples of Mission-style architecture. In homage, the remodel added period detailing while maintaining the minimal, volumetric simplicity of the California Mission style.

Careful rearrangement of the existing interior partition walls and a 900-square-foot, two-story addition on the side of the house gave the clients a primary suite, guest suite, and the spacious eat-in kitchen they desired.

The kitchen island in Studio Pressman's design for a Silver Lake residence remodel


Abundant natural light in the Studio Pressman design for a Silver Lake residence kitchen remodel


Studio Pressman Silver Lake residence kitchen remodel plan


A  An elliptical archway creates an inviting approach to the expansive kitchen

B  The 360-square-foot kitchen features two large skylights, wood French doors, casement windows, and wood floors in a chevron pattern 

C  The island’s wide-plank oak top is an inviting space for casual family meals and homework, while an inset cabinet next to the refrigerator cleverly conceals a small walk-in pantry

French doors open to the 190-square-foot covered terrace

A skylight-lit stair leads to lower-level living spaces and the rear yard


DESIGNER: Mike Latimer, TK Design & Associates, thallett@tkhomedesign.com, 248.446.1960

DIMENSIONS: Width: 102 feet / Depth: 75 feet /Living area: 3,480 sf

Kitchens are the heart of the home and have become increasingly open over the last few years. Unfortunately, kitchen design has become a bit predictable.

The most common approach is to have one large, rectangular island and an L-shaped kitchen, but this kitchen design takes a different tack while remaining open and airy.

The kitchen in TK Design's Sarah house plan


TK Design & Associates' Sarah house plan focusing on the kitchen



Wide, arched entrances celebrate arrival into the kitchen from both sides

The kitchen is open to the family room, creating a beautiful space running front to back on this end of the home

C  A beamed cathedral ceiling provides an abundance of volume that grows the space visually

D  Matching massive windows over the kitchen sink and in the living room flood the space with natural light

A double island provides plenty of surface area for prepping and serving food


The kitchen and living space in TK Design's Sarah house plan


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