Walls are great and all, but there’s something about walking into an expansive open floor plan that just feels so good. And when that open floor plan includes a kitchen-dining room combo, it offers many aesthetic and functional advantages.
For instance, “Open concept kitchen and dining areas allow the cook to interact with family and friends,” says Pamela O’Brien, award-winning, luxury interior designer and principal designer at Pamela Hope Designs. “Plus, the spillover use of the dining area can be perfect for large projects, homework, and crafts. Since everyone congregates in the kitchen, why not open it up?”
Open concepts also give the illusion of more space, making rooms feel larger and airier than they are. However, they can pose unique design challenges. If you’ve been contemplating new design ideas for a similar space, get inspired by these gorgeous kitchen-dining room combos, along with designer tips on how to maximize your own.
1. Light and airy
This gorgeous space, though not particularly large, looks plenty expansive thanks to a white-washed color palette that reflects natural light around the room. And organic accents, like the wood accent wall in the living room and open shelves in the kitchen, provide continuity from room to room.
“This chic family home was not especially large but the open concept on the first floor feels airy and spacious,” says Pamela O'Brien. “Continuous flooring and wall colors and an overriding mid-century modern style help blur the lines from the kitchen to the dining room and even back to the living area.”
2. Lifestyle alignment
Whenever you’re considering a new room design, it’s helpful to first think about your lifestyle and how you’ll realistically use the room day to day. For instance, “This family loves to cook and entertain, so they wanted a kitchen big enough to accommodate boisterous cocktail parties with friends,” says Aimee Wertepny from PROjECT. Interiors.
In this kitchen-dining room combo, PROjECT. designed a kitchen that boasts not one, but two king-sized kitchen islands flaunting "Calcutta Extra Gold" white marble countertops, which will allow the hosts to easily cook while entertaining their guests.
3. Compelling contrasts
This modern kitchen and dining room design makes use of contrasts to create a dynamic look. The painted wood beams and black dining chairs really pop thanks to an otherwise light and bright color scheme.
When pairing a kitchen and dining area together, it’s helpful to include elements that help to define each space as it’s very own. For instance, the area rug under the dining table makes it clear that this space is separate than that of a kitchen. Adding these defining elements often serves the same purpose as a wall while maintaining an open floor plan.
4. Cute and cohesive
Speaking of contrasts, this dining area and kitchen combo employs them beautifully with the black-and-white dining chairs, pendant lights, and area rug. Wood accents also contribute to the cohesion between both spaces, offering a sense of flow from the dining room to the kitchen.
“The custom-made reclaimed wood dining table is from an LA local craftsperson at Candidate Wood. We chose large black-framed cream upholstered chairs to stand up to the heft of this statement piece,” says Robin DeCapua, owner and designer at Madison Modern Home.
5. Thoughtful materials
Materials are an important consideration for anyone updating their home design. In addition to the way it looks, you should also consider a material’s functionality. For instance, “Quartz, an engineered stone, was selected for these countertops due to its beautiful design and low-maintenance durability,” says Jennifer Aos, founder of Anatomy of Style Interiors. Knowing that you don’t have to worry too much about your countertops getting dinged or stained makes materials like quartz a great fit for busy households.
You can also thoughtfully use materials to draw the eye to certain places and create focal points in your room design. For example, “The concrete, apron-style sink in this kitchen design serves as a focal point below the main window in the kitchen. And the former builder-grade oak cabinets were replaced with updated ray cabinetry with custom organizational features inside.”
6. Farmhouse flair
An abundance of organic materials, from the dining table and chairs to the kitchen cabinetry, give this space a farmhouse flair, which is further enhanced by the modern farmhouse chandelier.
But the black kitchen island and matching barstools, along with clean lines throughout the kitchen area, give this space a contemporary touch. Mixing and matching different aesthetic elements like this is a great way to create a dynamic room design and showcase your unique style sensibility.
7. Mix and match
This kitchen and dining area is an entertainer’s dream, with a large kitchen island that offers ample seating for folks to sit down and snack while the hosts put in work in the kitchen.
The space also demonstrates that even if you don’t have a wall to separate two spaces, you can create two distinct looks that work well together. The minimalist black-and-white dining area aligns perfectly with the white kitchen, while the colorful island and leather barstools ground both spaces in welcoming warmth.
8. Creative continuity
Featuring a warm foundation and bright white walls, this modern kitchen area is all sorts of inviting. The large kitchen island is a perfect match for the dining table, with wood and gold accents elevating both pieces together.
And since the island and dining table are right next to each other, the set creates an instant focal point, eliminating the need for excessive home decor while providing a stylish invitation for anyone to pull up a seat and enjoy a snack while their loved one cooks.
9. Coastal cool
The island and cabinetry paint color is an ideal complement to the softness of the warm wood floor finish. And enhancing that finish even further are the woven barstools and pendant lights, which feature similar hues. Even the stunning chandelier comes to play with its small wood accent, creating a look that’s equal parts cohesive and functional.
10. Scandi style
This minimalist Scandi-inspired space is an exhale in the form of a room design. The space pairs clean lines and organic materials with stark white walls that help to reflect natural light around the room. The abundant natural materials also help to create a sense of indoor-outdoor harmony, which is inherent in Scandinavian design.
“With this modern, Scandinavian-like design, we were able to bring the fresh yet functional look that our clients were seeking,” says Jude Kamal, interior designer at Sansa Interiors Inc. “We made this open space feel closer to the outdoors by using natural materials and earthy tones and finishes.”
11. Dynamic definition
Even though the stove and microwave are near the dining area in this space, both the kitchen and dining room look like two completely distinct spaces due to gray cabinetry adding definition to the kitchen and a heavy wood table creating a focal point for the dining room.
“The kitchen, appointed with La Cornue and Miele appliances and slate cabinets by Sauder Woodworking, is accessed from two points of entry from the foyer, providing a sense of natural flow,” says Marshall Erb, principal & lead interior designer at Marshall Erb Design.
12. Modern Drama
This is a relatively small kitchen compared to many of the other designs on this list, but it’s big on personality. Interiors by Popov introduced a rich, satiny black to make a dramatic statement in this modern kitchen and dining space.
Black comes in many different shades, so if you’re going for a warmer look, like this one, make sure to choose a dark hue that leans on the warm side of the cool-warm spectrum. “In contrast to the stark white of the kitchen island, the black cabinetry and chairs offer a warm undertone that harmonizes the space,” explains Anna Popov.
13. Stylish Statement
Neutral kitchen designs certainly have their place, but if you want to make a big statement, consider using an eye-catching paint color, like this gorgeous cobalt blue. Even though there are quite a few different design elements in this space, it looks completely cohesive since the blue stretches from the cabinetry into the dining area.
“Sleek, modern blue and white cabinetry along with state-of-the-art appliances were installed to create a warm, functional space,” says Natalie Rebuck of Re: Design Architects. “A custom-built walnut bar was also put in behind the range to allow for entertaining and socializing,”
14. Color Pops
Opting for a white color palette can make your space look bigger, as well as help draw attention to your favorite elements in a room. For instance, this sweet orange breakfast nook really stands out against a white backdrop, while the white and gray tones ensure the look remains grounded in sophistication.
“For this kitchen, we chose a bright white for the cabinets and the walls, that way the breakfast nook could really stand out in a bold orange color,” says Jil Sonia McDonald of Jil Sonia Interiors. “Accents of gray scattered around the kitchen pull together the strong white and bold orange tones; and the coolness of the gray tones subdue the warmth in the wood flooring.”
How to design a kitchen dining room combo space
While there are no hard rules when it comes to home design, there are a few tried-and-true tips you can use to make the most of your kitchen-dining room combo. For instance, it’s helpful to create cohesion between these two spaces to provide a sense of continuity.
“These spaces look best when they are cohesive,” says Pamela O’Brien. “Not everything has to match but continuous colors and styles will create better designs. It can be as simple as a few blue accessories in the kitchen where the blue is repeated in a dining room area rug. Bolder steps could include a patterned tile backsplash and a similar design in the dining room art.”
Not everything has to match but continuous colors and styles will create better designs.
However, while cohesion helps connect two spaces in one design, it’s also a good idea to define the two areas as their own to make it clear that they’re separate spaces with different functions. “This can be done by using furniture or other visual elements to create distinct spaces for each area,” says Margarita Bravo, founder and chief creative officer at Margarita Bravo. “For example, use an island in the kitchen as a makeshift wall to separate the cooking space from the dining area.” You can also add an area rug under the dining room table to further define the space.
Opt for pieces that are multipurpose and lightweight.
Finally, consider how you’ll use the space on a daily basis and whether you’ll need to move the furniture around, in which case, “Opt for pieces that are multipurpose and lightweight, such as a counter height table with barstools. This will give the space flexibility and make it easy to move items around when needed,” says Margarita.
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