Punctuating open-plan living

Open plan living is something many of our clients want to achieve. That feeling of space, the flow of activity from one space to another, those well-lit views through windows from every corner – it’s no wonder it’s a popular choice.

Open plan comes with its own particular challenges though. The obvious one is building in storage so that the impression created is of spacious calm order, not a really big room full of stuff. If we lose interior walls, we also lose some of the natural places to accommodate shelves, cupboards and drawers.

Another one, paradoxically, is the need to demarcate space. Long sight-lines are great, but our lifestyles tend to require certain areas for certain functions. It helps to design a series of open plan rooms to allow the space to be naturally ‘punctuated’ to create separation within an open-plan whole.

A home organistion hub designed by Bear Interiors separates an open plan kitchen and dining room

This custom-built home organisation hub elegantly solves both problems. Making effective use of the brick piers between kitchen and dining area in this listed 1960s home (but it could equally be free standing) this is the spot where domestic paperwork is done and immediately filed in robust office-standard filing drawers.

The home computer and phone are on hand with cabling neatly hidden, and the coffee machine helps make this the go-to spot to use and store useful home admin stuff.

The hub uses the same timber, veneer and genuine Formica finishes used in the rest of the kitchen, all designed, built and installed by Bear Interiors. Details like the polished chrome kickplate add an extra touch of luxury to a highly functional piece of custom furniture.

By separating kitchen and dining with a half-height unit, the family can enjoy the size and aspect of their open plan room but keep the more functional bits and pieces out of sight while they sit down over a meal. The feature is equally good to look at from the dining room side, providing a useful wall to site a radiator (another common issue when interior walls are missing).

A custom built altar table by Bear Interiors


This attractive altar table serves as a useful serving and display area. Designed and built by us and inspired by the 1960s aesthetic of the house, it also fits exactly around the radiator to ensure the heat can reach the room.

Simple is beautiful

When it comes to planning storage and home design, sometimes the simplest solutions have the most to offer. The test of good design can be that we barely know it’s there.

In the right setting, a highly decorated or unusual layout is absolutely right. Often, though, we simply want our bits and bobs out of the way in a piece of furniture so convenient, classic and well-built that we hardly notice it at all.

It becomes part of the room, like it’s always been there, especially when a pair of wardrobes fit a couple of alcoves like hands in gloves. The effect may be simple but the execution to make it so is critical: like the wardrobes we designed here – the fit, the perfect infills, the top detailing matching the height and style of the picture rail – all of these need careful thought and skilled installation to create the effect.

Simple alcove wardrobes harmonise with the room with plinth details and perfectly fitted infills

Simple alcove wardrobes harmonise with the room with plinth details and perfectly fitted infills

In a living area, the bits and bobs multiply. To create a clean, open-plan feel it’s vital to have the right storage to make whisking all our stuff away as easy as pie. The effect is ordered, and helps us relax in an uncluttered room where we know exactly where to find a necessary item.

In high-ceilinged rooms like the one for which we created the storage wall below, built-in furniture makes efficient use of high-up space for less used items, which stay orderly, dust-free and still readily accessible. Even room heating is integrated for a fuss-free feel.

A full-height storage wall creates an ordered feel and makes efficient use of high-up wall space

A full-height storage wall creates an ordered feel and makes efficient use of high-up wall space

Our ordered home needs space for outside storage too. You might be surprised how many conversations we have with clients about storing bins, recycling and other useful but unattractive paraphernalia. If we get this right, the rest of the home feels instantly better.

The client for whom we designed this contemporary side passage (below) wanted a covered area to keep waste disposal bins dry (helpfully also keeping the rain off people using them) and out of sight. A sloping waterproof roof was necessary, but was given the invisibility treatment with a hard-wearing slatted wall. It’s simple but thoughtful, attractive but low-key.

There are more custom-built home storage ideas on our website, or call us to discuss what you need on 01225 330124.

Outdoor storage can also be clean, well-designed and contemporary

Outdoor storage can also be clean, well-designed and contemporary