Open plan living is very much the order of the day in the 21st century. So it is rare to visit a friend or view a house where the living room has not been knocked through to the dining room and maybe even the kitchen. New homes are planned with this spacious design and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who keeps a room ‘for best’ as our grandparents or great grandparents may have once done.
The advantages of open plan living are many, but some are finding that there are an increasing number of arguments for returning a home to its original design, or installing partition walls in a newer home. As we find ourselves staying longer in homes, having older relatives move in and with heating costs rising, so we can see good reasons for creating smaller, more private spaces.
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Most interior design features enjoy a cyclical popularity, so maybe it is time to bring back the dining room. After all, as well as the arguments around space and heating bills, there is a train of thought that says eating together without the distraction of television is good for family cohesion.
If you are considering splitting the living space in your home then you first need to think about the practicalities. When the room was knocked through, you (or whoever owned the house prior to you) may have also boarded up a doorway and plastered over it. You will need to reinstate this door or consider building a doorway between the rooms where you currently walk through.
You will also need to consider the electrical implications of your decision. In most cases you won’t need to carry out major electrical work, but you may need to hire an electrician to install extra power outlets and light fittings or switches.
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Bigger, open rooms tend to bring in more light, so think about windows or skylights in extreme cases where closing the rooms up makes one of them very dark. Consider heating too and whether you need to install a new gas fire, stove or radiators, which will obviously add a good deal to your budget. In most cases, services will be repeated in both halves of a knocked-through living space, but it is definitely something to check off when planning and getting quotes for the job.
The process of turning your room back into two rooms is usually fairly simple and is just a case of adding a stud wall or block wall where your rooms now join. This may mean building an entire new wall or patching up where the rooms are linked by an archway. You won’t need planning permission for most basic internal renovations, unless your property is listed but your builder or a building inspector will be able to let you know if you do need permissions.
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Building the wall and dividing the room into two should not take more than a day, including adding plasterboard and skimming with plaster. Decor and any additional work, such as electrical sockets, will add to the bill, but the cost of having a basic wall built by a professional should cost you between £400 and £800. Other solutions that are not so drastic include building sliding walls across the room, or screens although these can add up to a similar cost.
Once you have divided your room then you can set about populating the new rooms with furniture and design touches to give them individuality. You can copy your ancestors and keep one room for best, housing your finest china and ornaments there. Or you can designate one room as the entertainment suite and house the PlayStations and sound systems in there, so that you can enjoy Strictly Come Dancing in peace in one room while your partner or kids enjoy the latest games or music in the other. Just be sure to build in lots of storage to take full advantage of both sides of your new wall.