Social + Home Extension: Benefits and considerations for an open plan living and dining extension

From raising a glass with friends on a hot summer’s evening to hosting your first family Christmas, open plan living spaces can transform both your lifestyle and the value of your property. In this blog, we delve into the many benefits of extending your kitchen to create an open plan living and dining space and look into the practical and aesthetic factors you should consider.

What are the benefits of adding an extra living and dining space to my home?

The demand for additional space in UK homes has surged due to evolving lifestyles, remote work trends, and changing home design preferences. We are increasingly looking for flexible living spaces that prioritise comfort and functionality, catering to the needs of work, relaxation, and entertainment. In particular, open plan living and dining areas have become popular, offering a versatile space that not only acts as a hub for family life in the day to day, but can accommodate large social gatherings on those special occasions.

Beyond the practical benefits, open plan living contributes to a brighter and more radiant home environment. The absence of walls permits natural light to permeate, creating a beautifully lit and airy ambiance. As well as feeling luxurious, these types of extensions can also increase the desirability and potential value of your property, making it a smart investment if you choose to sell down the line.

Don’t just take our word for it!

Dan and his partner made the decision to extend their home to make more space for their growing family of seven. Using the Guardian Home Extension, they extended their kitchen to create a beautiful, light-filled open plan living and dining space. "The extra space has opened up a world of possibilities, not to mention the extra light” Dan explained. The teenagers are able to use the space to study away from the younger ones, and the younger ones “have an extra space to cause havoc in!” The family are also now able to dine together as a seven— or eight if you count the new dog the children decided they now had space for! Learn more about Dan’s hassle-free experience and his family’s new found flexibility:

What is the best place and size for your new living and dining extension?

When envisioning your new dining and living area, thinking about the flow of your home is essential. Whether you are looking to create an open plan kitchen/dining space or keep these rooms separate, locating the new socialising area close to the kitchen ensures serving drinks or meals is a simple process, giving you more time to spend with your family and guests.

For size, consider how much space you need to socialise comfortably. How many seats at the table do you need? Do you want an additional area to create your own home bar, or a separate zone to entertain children?

Additionally, if you want to be able to open the space out to your garden with large bi-fold doors for an al-fresco dining experience in the summer, you will need to consider how the extension will sit within your existing land.

What practical considerations should I bear in mind for a new dining and living extension?

Our Certified Installers will support you through the design and construction process to ensure you get the functionality you need within the space you have available and that your extension meets the correct standards. However, there are some key factors that are worth bearing in mind as you work through the process, such as:

How do I want my space to be lit? Lighting is key for setting the mood when you are entertaining. Carefully considering the placement of windows and glazed doors can help to ensure a bright and airy space. For example, the Guardian Roof Lantern can really deliver that wow factor, whatever your plans — from illuminating your daytime festivities with natural light to complementing your dinner party with a romantic view of the stars. This can be supplemented with electric light from spotlights, wall lights and lamps.


How do I want to access the space? Strategically decide on the placement of doors and windows, considering both aesthetics and functionality. Accessibility and security are key, especially if the extension alters current entry points. Double doors leading to the garden and Velux roof windows can offer solutions that combine aesthetics, practicality, and privacy.


How will I ventilate the space? When considering the door and window placements, think about how air will flow across the space, allowing you to air out cooking smells and ensure a comfortable temperature for you and your guests.


Where do the services need to go? It is important to also consider where you may need things like sockets and radiators to allow you to use the space for many different functions.


What is the extension being built on? Different soils require different foundations. Our Certified Installers can assess this, but we have written a blog for homeowners with more information.


What thermal performance does it need to achieve? Open plan spaces require more thought when it comes to heating and ensuring the extension is well insulated and uses energy efficiently is a key priority. Learn more about thermal performance in our dedicated blog on the topic.


What is your ideal project timeline? Undertaking any home improvement project can have a knock-on effect on the rest of your home. Having an idea of when you want the work to take place can help limit the disruption as far as possible. Learn more about the build speed of extensions in our blog.

What design considerations should I bear in mind for a new open plan living and dining extension?

Crafting an inviting living and dining area goes beyond aesthetics—it's about cultivating somewhere that radiates warmth and comfort, fostering a sense of openness. We asked Joanna Thornhill— an expert interior stylist, writer, author, and consultant— for her recommendations when it comes to designing these sociable home additions.

“Make the most of an open-plan family space by ensuring it has clearly defined functions and uses, while still being versatile enough to accommodate ever-changing needs, from homework and hot desking to hosting a family party” she advises. This includes incorporating different seating areas and chair styles to make it easy to accommodate fluctuating visitor numbers and uses.

These various zones can then be brought together with harmonious colour scheme that is both punchy and glamourous. When dreaming up a design for our example model, Joanna chose to reflect natural tones from the garden beyond, with bold mint and peacock tones across the walls and fabrics. With such a large canvas to play with, she also decided to “create a playful twist on traditional architecture by adding colour to the lower two-thirds of the wall, with a thin band of a contrasting colour to act as an alternative picture rail.” This simple painting effect is not only a bit different but has the dual benefit of actually making the ceiling feel higher, drawing people’s eyes up towards the spectacular lantern rooflight in the centre of the space.

Lighting is essential to creating ambience. While an open layout with rooflights or a central roof lantern welcomes an abundance of natural light, artificial lighting can be strategically used to set the mood, especially when entertaining or having a relaxing evening on the sofa. Thornhill recommends a combination of spotlights, wall, and floor lamps to create an inviting atmosphere for socialising and relaxation.

A well-designed living and dining extension serves as the heart of your home, blending comfort, style, and functionality. It's more than just a physical extension—it's about creating a space where people can come together, unwind, and relish in each other's company. Thornhill's expert tips ensure that your extended space not only looks great but also feels like a true home, inviting and inclusive for everyone.


Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Guardian Home Extension: Social+ page or download our brochure. 





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