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Open-plan kitchen with glazed roof, white cabinetry, white butcher's block and animal hide rug

Flexible living open-plan kitchens

Today's kitchen is all about having space to cook, eat, entertain, gather as a family and relax. Therefore, the average kitchen project has become so much more than simply upgrading old cabinetry and appliances. A trusted home insurance survey shows that one in five UK households had removed a downstairs wall in the past 10 years, while one in three were already enjoying the benefits of an open-plan kitchen and dining scheme.

The big appeal is for the kitchen and cook to be part of the action when entertaining and, on a day-to-day basis, for the whole family to be together. In this time-pressed age, it's a real boon to be able to offer help with homework while preparing the evening meal  and to be able to keep one eye on tots and teens while managing other tasks. 'People have become generally less formal and so are more willing to share cooking, dining and relaxing areas,' says Tim Higham of Higham Furniture. 'When throwing a dinner party, it's seen as sociable to cook and entertain at the same time.'

Summer time is when open-plan kitchen layouts really come into their own, as the majority of kitchen extensions include large amounts of glass to let in light and provide easy access to the garden, which vastly expands the living and entertaining space.

Light-filled open-plan kitchen extension (pictured)

Daylight floods in through a huge glazed roof to brighten this spectacular kitchen extension. It opens directly on to dining and living space with pale stone flooring uniting the expansive space.

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Photograph by Brent Darby