ePrivacy and GPDR Cookie Consent by Cookie Consent Has the social kitchen made the living room redundant?

Has the social kitchen made the living room redundant?

Is the social kitchen the new living room? Why are more and more people combining these two rooms? We explore this new phenomenon in this article.

6 min read

© Matt Gamble

The way that we live in our homes has transformed over time – even in the past few years, many of us have adapted to new patterns of living. This can include working from home, spending more downtime in the home and hosting more.

The living room was once an integral part of family life – the part of the home that was typically devoted to quality, leisure time. And even though the kitchen has gradually developed its reputation as ‘the heart of the home’, the balance appears to have tipped so greatly for some that the idea of a separate living room altogether seems redundant. We question whether this is true, why and what we can learn from this to enjoy our own homes better.

The rise of the social kitchen

The recent findings of our Happy Home Report found that, given £10,000 to improve their home, most people would devote the amount to their kitchen. Those that don’t already have an open-plan kitchen make up 74% of that figure – clear evidence that open-plan kitchens in particular are the most alluring for people looking to renovate their homes. Open-plan layouts can facilitate socialising between different family members which has been proven to be an important aspect of our happiness at home.

Open-plan kitchens limit the barriers between different household members, which in turn facilitates more connection, and home happiness. This suggests that our wellbeing could be improved by embracing open-plan kitchens and living spaces as the heart of the home. Depending on your property, there are a number of ways to achieve an open-plan kitchen but, generally, this will include either an extension or a reconfiguration of your existing kitchen layout. Here’s just a few ideas to get you started:

Beautiful details from a perfect social kitchen from the Resi portfolio© Matt Gamble

Rear extension

If you’re looking to transform your current kitchen into a practical, stylish open-plan space but you’re limited on the amount of space you have to the side of your property, a rear extension could be a fantastic option for you. This is typically when your garden space is shaved into to expand the amount of indoor space towards the back of your property. It’s this extra space that can facilitate a brand new layout including a chillout space or a dining area. Rear extensions are a great option for terraced houses. If you’re curious to see how much it could set you back, try our Quick Quote Calculator to get a speedy cost estimate.

Side extension

Side extensions make a great option for homeowners who have dead space to the side of their homes – this is a common feature in many Victorian houses where alleyways were once more commonplace. It’s ideal if you’re looking to extend or change the layout of your kitchen but only have limited garden space or simply don’t want to cut into your garden. Curated correctly, this can accommodate a kitchen island layout with an additional dining or relaxing area. It also opens up some great options for increasing glazing and the amount of natural light in your property. Below is a beautiful example of how this can be achieved in a completed Resi project in Islington.

Creative social space created by a side infill extension in Islington© Veronica Rodriguez

Wraparound extension

Wraparound extensions are essentially a combination of a side extension and a rear extension. So, if you have the budget and the available space to build into, they’re a fantastic way to maximise the square footage of your home and create room for getting creative when it comes to building your ideal open-plan kitchen. Learn more about wraparound extension options, planning permission and costs in this article. Get inspired by the possibilities by exploring our completed project portfolio – below is a striking example from a happy client’s finished project in Lambeth:

A light, bright, social kitchen made possible with a wraparound extension© Veronica Rodriguez

The separate living room

According to our Happy Home Report, living spaces like lounges and snugs are up there alongside open-plan spaces as the most important to us. In fact, half of us say they’re where we best switch off and relax. This complicates the question of whether a social kitchen means leaving the living room behind.

While opting for open-plan kitchen and living areas has a particular aesthetic allure and the potential to improve the sense of connectedness between different household members, there are drawbacks to a barrier-free space that should be considered before taking the plunge and embarking on a total home renovation. Here are the top things to consider before joining your living room with your kitchen space:


Hannah, a Resi customer interviewed in April 2023, was at the very beginning of her Resi journey when we asked what it was that she was looking to achieve with her renovation journey. Hannah, it should be said, really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to design and construction – she’s done her research, shopped around, watched every great design show under the sun and is a regular frequenter of some of the most active social media communities that are devoted to real-life residential architecture and construction.

Given that context, we were really intrigued to learn what her priorities were when it came to revamping her home. We were surprised to learn that alongside a quest for brightening the interiors and enhancing the connection with outdoors, creating private spaces was of key importance. On the surface, this might seem like a contradiction, but as we delved deeper we really got a sense of what she meant. And, now we have the results of our Happy Home survey, it’s clear to us that Hannah was on to something…

What Hannah had twigged was the importance of both open and closed spaces in the home. A specific example she offered was the aim of allowing her step-kids to roam free in the open-plan kitchen when their friends are around while her and her partner can offer them privacy “without being banished upstairs!”. It’s this sense of optional time together that we predict contributes to harmony in the home.

Getting cosy

For those that follow interior trends, you’ll be aware of the Hygge trend – a Danish philosophy of living that prioritises creating cosiness that was later adopted by people all over the world. It’s difficult to argue with the idea that lighting candles during the day, decorating with soft furnishings and opting for natural materials could be a bad thing. But we wanted to know if it legitimately could improve our sense of wellbeing in the home.

When we surveyed people for our Happy Home Report, we found that 86% of the people satisfied with their homes said that their homes make them feel ‘cosy’. In order to understand how we can apply this learning in our own homes, it helps to know that of those who said their homes either always or often make them feel cosy, almost 70% said their homes reflect who they are. What does this tell us? Pride in the home is strongly linked to how relaxed we are within it and how cosy the environment is.

This information contributes to the case for cosy living rooms that are filled with design touches that reflect your personal taste.

A cosy living room filled with personal touches from a beautifully styled Resi project© Matt Gamble

In conclusion, we feel as though there’s still a space in the modern family home for both open-plan kitchens and living rooms. An open-plan kitchen with living space does appear to have a positive impact on how socially satisfied we feel in our homes while a separate living room can offer us privacy and solace. Both connectedness and privacy serve our wellbeing.

If you’re considering a home renovation that can accommodate both of these needs in a stylish, practical way, book a free advice call with one of our knowledgeable consultants and get the ball rolling on improving your home happiness.

Design & cost your rear conversion

It takes just 30 seconds

Configure my design

Related articles

Resi is the UK's largest residential architect


Track record in getting planning approval


Projects undertaken across the UK

34 days

Average time from survey to planning