Open Plan or Zone Living?

Open Plan or Zone Living?

Today, we usually think of open plan design in relation to residential spaces. Actually, commercial interior designers introduced the concept in the 1950s as a means to improve office efficiency by eliminating barriers between office workers. The open plan office had two advantages. By eliminating walls, employees were better able to communicate with each other. At the same time, more workers could work in a smaller space, reducing overheads.

It wasn’t long before the disadvantages of open plan offices became apparent. Whilst greater ease of inter-office communication was welcomed, the lack of privacy and sense of having a private workspace proved to be a distraction. That problem was solved by the introduction of office cubicles.

The open plan concept caught on in homes in the 1960s, but until recently, most homeowners just put up with the disadvantages of sacrificing private space for the sake of the greater sense of spaciousness afforded by eliminating walls. The balance is shifting, though, and homeowners are looking for ways to get the best of both worlds: an open plan and privacy when it’s needed. The solution is in zone living.

What is Zone Living?

Even in an open plan design, the home is still divided into zones. The kitchen remains the cooking zone, for example, while the living room is reserved for relaxation and socialising. Acknowledging these separate zones without turning back the clock and erecting permanent walls between them is the essence of zone living. How do you accomplish this? In two ways:

  1. By installing sliding glass doors or bifold doors between zones.
  2. By installing moveable screens between doors.

The first solution only became available when improved door hardware systems like Centor bifold door hardware came on to the market. The Centor system allows the installer to hang wide banks of timber bifold doors instead of just a pair. Just as importantly, they open and close effortlessly. Innovative interior designers and home renovators simply took the concept and installed these doors in the space between zones rather than just thinking of them as exit doors.

Ideally, timber bifold doors should be double glazed. Double glazing offers the twin advantages of better acoustic and thermal insulation:

  • Acoustic insulation allows you to enjoy a conversation around the kitchen island while the children watch TV in the living room.
  • Thermal insulation allows you to heat or cool a smaller space, helping you reduce your energy consumption and bills.

Screens are not a new concept. Shoji screens, for example, are an integral part of traditional Japanese architecture and office cubicles are basically screens between work stations.

Allkind Joiney Brisbane has been making custom timber screens for clients for decades. A big advantage of timber screens over walls or flimsy factory made screens is that a timber screen enhances the appearance of the home. At the same time, timber is a great acoustic insulator. Install a timber screen between the kitchen or home office and the TV and you get just enough privacy and quiet to carry on your work without being distracted by the TV.

You can also install timber screens outdoors to provide shade and privacy without sacrificing the feeling that you are enjoying the great outdoors. Outdoors, slatted timber screens are a favourite, allowing filtered light and air to enter the patio while offering protection against strong winds and harsh sunlight.

Does the zone living solution sound like your solution to the disadvantages of open plan living? If so, contact Allkind Joinery Brisbane and find the best zone living solution for your needs.