In the past homes were divided into lots of separate rooms, often resulting in cramped spaces with minimal natural light and flow. Nowadays, the lifestyle of the modern homeowner has changed, and people are seeking open plan spaces that provide a ‘hub’ where cooking and eating is an activity rather than a chore.

Enter the kitchen diner — the perfect solution that offers an open plan kitchen and dining (and often living) area where homeowners can cook, eat and entertain with ease, in a large, light-filled space that most often will open out to a garden or terrace for indoor/outdoor living. Here, we take a look at what to consider when creating a kitchen diner.

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A kitchen diner in a modern extension with pendant lights

Image: Luke Forman

Creating Space

As with many projects, there will be multiple factors to consider where space is concerned. Firstly, you should decide whether you want to create your kitchen diner by knocking through walls to create an open plan area, or whether you will be adding an extension.

However, in terms of adding an extension, there will be two main options:

  • Add a large extension which will include a new kitchen and dining (and possibly living) space.
  • Extend from the existing kitchen to make extra room for a dining space — and if so, do you keep the existing kitchen, or rip it out and fit a new one that makes better use of the new, larger footprint?

This choice will largely depend on both your budget and the available space. If you have restricted garden space, then a small side-return extension could provide you with that extra room for a dining table within the kitchen. Or, if you have a terraced or semi-detached home with a kitchen to the rear, adding a rear extension for an open plan kitchen diner opening out to the garden could be the solution.

Grander schemes, however, with detached properties and where the budget allows could involve a large rear extension spanning the width of the home, housing a new kitchen/dining/family space. Floor-to-ceiling glazing for contemporary schemes, or sets of French/patio doors in traditional-style homes which follow out to a terraced area and the garden beyond are a nice addition.

A side extension kitchen on a small terraced home with red feature low wall

This kitchen has been extended sideways. A glazed roof and bifold doors help light the space

What Planning Permission is Required for a Kitchen Diner Extension?

If you are going to be adding an extension to create your new kitchen diner, then you may be covered under Permitted Development (PD) rights and therefore not require planning consent. However, bear in mind that if your house is in a Conservation Area or national park, the amount of work you can do under PD is usually reduced.

To be covered under Permitted Development rights, a single-storey extension should:

  • be a maximum height of four metres
  • not extend beyond the original rear wall of the house by more than six metres if it is an attached house (i.e. semi-detached), or eight metres for a detached home
  • If you are adding a side extension, this must be single-storey with a width of no more than half that of the original house.

If your building is listed, then you will require planning permission regardless of whether you are adding an extension or knocking through a wall. If you have any doubts, you should check with your local planning department.

Building Regulations

Your work will require Building Regulations approval to ensure that the minimum design and construction standards are achieved. These cover all manner of subjects such as fire and other forms of safety, insulation, drainage, electricity and access.

Building Control

The role of a Building Control officer is to ensure that the minimum standards set out by the Building Regulations have been met. If you are carrying out an extension for your kitchen diner – or are even knocking through walls – Building Control will need to be notified. Notify Building Control by sending a Full Plans application to the local authority, where you pay a fee and the building inspector visits the site at the various stages of the build and inspects the work as it proceeds.

Curved kitchen extension for a family art deco home

This kitchen diner was created as part of a remodel and extension to an Art Deco style home

Who’ll Do the Work?

Chances are that your kitchen diner, will demand some form of structural work, and you will need to enlist the services of a designer as well as builders. Once you have chosen a designer, they will draw up plans for the project (to be submitted to the local planning department if your project is going to require approval), and to provide the builders with during the tender process.

When selecting builders to carry out the work, make sure they come recommended and ask to see previous projects and speak to previous clients for peace of mind. Try to also avoid paying day rates, and agree on a fixed price where possible. You may, however, wish to go down the route of employing a design and build extension company who will be able to handle everything from the design through to the building works and fit-out.

Electrics and Plumbing

At some point in the process you will need to ensure first fix electrical works are carried out, and your electrician will need to check the existing system to see whether rewiring is necessary. The electrician should then return to carry out second fix electrics – such as connections to plug sockets – before the worktops are fitted.

As with the electrics, you will need to call in a plumber to check the existing pipework is in good condition. You will need to ensure you have both a hot and cold water supply, as well as a waste pump from the sink to the outside. Appliances, such as your washing machine and dishwasher, will also need to be connected to the water supply.

Open plan living converts a once boxy roomed home

An open plan kitchen diner can transform an existing layout of boxy rooms. In this house an extensive remodel was undertaken which involved knocking down walls

Design Considerations

There is a lot to consider when creating a kitchen diner. What style of kitchen will you go for — do you have it compliment or contrast with the tone of the rest of the house, and how will you adapt it to suit your lifestyle?

What Layout Do I Go For?

When planning the layout of your kitchen diner, you will need to keep in mind the basics of what each kitchen requires (fridge freezer, cooker, sink) and then add features around these items. As kitchen diners are a multifunctional space, zoning the cooking and eating areas will be important.

This can be done using furniture and storage. A kitchen island between the work station units and the dining table, for instance, is a perfect break between the separate spaces, and is also a place where you can store pots and pans, and even install a hob and second sink. A breakfast bar can also serve as a way of zoning the kitchen from the dining area.

Remember, however, to leave enough space to move around; giving at least one metre between worktops. Units will need considering too, and your choice will depend on how you will be using the space and the style you are going for.

For instance:

  • Do you want appliances on show or built-in?
  • Will you be storing dried goods in cupboards or will they be sited in a separate pantry, or indeed the freezer?
  • Do you have a lot of crockery that needs a home?
  • Do you own a lot of deep pans which will need equally deep drawers or shelves?
  • Will you require multipurpose worktops that house built-in knife racks or pull-out electrical sockets?

All of these questions will need answering from the outset so you can ensure your kitchen design meets your requirements.

How Can I Maximise Natural Light?

One of the benefits of having an open plan kitchen diner is that you are not sacrificing natural light by having smaller separate rooms. If your kitchen diner is to the rear of the property, consider bi-fold doors that open to the garden. The full-height glazing will allow in plenty of sunlight as well as offering views of the outside.

If you are choosing to add a side-return extension or are after more privacy, then opting for clerestory windows is a good design solution. A bank of rooflights is another popular option.

A glass extension to a period property in Winchester by AR Design

This home in Winchester has been completely transformed with a light-filled kitchen extension designed by AR Design Studio

How Will I Heat the Space?

Radiators are a cheap way to heat the kitchen diner, however plinth heaters are a good choice if you are limited on wall space as they fit neatly between the bottom of the base units and the floor. Heated towel rails – complete with pegs for tea towels – are also popular.

At the higher end of the scale is underfloor heating (UFH) which, while more expensive and more hassle to install, is perfect for providing even and comfortable heat on kitchen floor types (such as stone or tiles) which are prone to feeling cold. UFH will, however, require the removal of floorboards and existing tiles — adding to both time and costs.

What Lighting Is Best for a Kitchen Diner?

Include a lighting scheme which is practical but which also brings the wow-factor in the evenings.

  • Under cupboard lights, sometimes controlled by dimmable switches, are a favourite for offering a soft glow to worktops.
  • Spotlights on the ceiling can offer a brighter, white light suitable for areas such as work stations where you’ll want good visibility.
  • Pendant lights can be hung over the dining table, but look great in a row over a kitchen island, too.
John Cullen lighting scheme to zone a kitchen diner with blackboard wall

This kitchen has been zoned using a lighting Scheme by John Cullen

How Long Will it Take?

Project time depends largely on whether you will be extending the property, the type of interior fit-out, and specifications you choose. A single storey kitchen extension, for example, will on average take 12 weeks, however if you are specifying underfloor heating this will add to the time. Knocking through a wall to open up the kitchen to the dining area and undergoing a minor renovation will take less time.

How Much Does a Kitchen Diner?

In general, a single storey extension for a kitchen diner is likely to be £1,000-£2,000/m², giving a typical cost of £25,000-£50,000 for a footprint of around 25m². The total cost of the project, however, will depend largely on the specification of the kitchen itself, with kitchens varying dramatically in price depending on the choice of supplier, the materials used and the appliances specified.

View these kitchen diner projects for inspiration

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