Is "Broken-Plan" the new "Open Plan"

Just when we got used to the feeling of open plan and have knocked down all our internal walls on Kirsty Allsopp's say so, there's a new trend on the block.

It's called "broken-plan living" a term first coined by Architect Mary Duggan, gives areas in the home more privacy but still has the benefits of open-plan at its heart.

The changes in our lifestyle are the cause of this change. Increased use of tablets and phones, working from home, and children staying at home longer whilst they save for the almighty deposit on a one bedroom flat. The result is the need for quiet spaces, snugs and studies that are not completely detached from the rest of the family but deliver a certain level of seclusion.

Broken-plan is basically a more complex open-plan, you can keep things you love about open-plan, but also letting your rooms retain an element for specific use. 

Here are some examples of how you can achieve this trend.


If it's an option for you, a mezzanine is a perfect example of broken-plan. With a living space above the kitchen you have the utmost privacy to study or work whilst someone is busy in the kitchen but you still have the feeling of enjoying the space together.

Dividing shelves

We love the simplicity of this idea and it's actually quite retro. Pedini have brought it bang up to date with their Dune design. It also gives you optimum space to display chosen art and books.


Differing floor levels and ceiling heights divide the kitchen and dining room or kitchen and living room, by lowering the living area slightly with lower ceilings you instantly create a cosier space. For even more privacy a sliding screen or glass dividers could be an option.

Zonal lighting and decoration.

Perhaps the easiest way to get into this trend. Adding textured rugs and low level lighting will create a tranquil space in the living room. or place a floor lamp and armchair next to your book shelf and you have created a library.