5 min read

Quintessentially Australian – Open Plan Living & Dining

Lending itself to the laid-back Aussie entertaining style, open plan living and dining is not going anywhere and it’s now more important than ever to build spaces that not only look beautiful but feel comfortable too. Blockcast host Jono Fleming caught up with head of design at Freedom, Kate Hopwood to talk about arguably the most-used area of the home.

While the kitchen has long been dubbed as ‘the heart of the home’, Kate makes a strong point for the living space as being just that, especially given the open-plan entertaining lifestyle that graces both modern and classic Australian homes. Whether you’re cuddling up and getting cosy on the couch in winter or sharing a BBQ feast with family over the holidays during summer, there are many beautiful moments and memories made in these communal areas. Not to mention, over the last two years we have seen our living and dining areas turn into workspaces and home offices, as well as places to unwind day in and day out.

We’re noticing a huge trend of having multi-functional pieces of furniture – office furniture that looks good enough to be a dining chair,” Kate adds “and you want to feel like you can still relax in that space – it has to be comfortable and supportive

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Kirsty & Jesse, House 5

On the topic of trends, it’s important to note that while ‘trends’ can get a bad rap for being temporary and fast-changing, Kate and Jono agree that trends pertaining to the home span a much longer period of time. Foundational trends, as Kate calls them, are what you want to invest in for the long-term. Think of the cornerstones of the home – your kitchen, lounge, lighting fixtures – these are all trend-influenced but built to appeal to your personal taste and last for years. You can always ‘edit’ a well-built space with faster-moving seasonal trend items to keep things fresh, like cushions, rugs and throws to give your space a new lease of life and keep it exciting.

Thinking about the trends coming through at Freedom at the moment, head of design Kate explains that “we are getting back to our roots”, drawing inspiration from the uniquely Australian influences all around us – from the natural scenery to the architecture and the Australian artisans and makers. Materials such as natural fibres, stones, textiles and timbers are all trending at the moment, lending themselves to creating rich, warm and inviting living spaces, as seen throughout the latest living and dining reveals on The Block.

Starting with Ronnie & Georgia’s living and dining room, Jono notes that they have delivered another beautifully designed neutral base that gives any buyer the flexibility to stamp their own personality on the home. From their tonal flooring, clever art choices and small pops of brass, sitting alongside their kitchen this living-dining area is sophisticated and cohesive, with the rest of the house. The boucle chair is a very on-trend feature piece right now, while maintaining the neutral feel of the room.

Mitch & Mark’s living-dining reveal attracted some constructive feedback from the judges, which Jono and Kate also shared. “As individual pieces, they’re good but they’re just not connecting,” notes Kate. Themes aside, Jono and Kate highlighted the importance of scale and proportion. A bigger rug would have worked better in this room to help ground the furniture all together for a cohesive look and feel.

Tanya & Vito had a good week, taking out equal first place alongside frontrunners Ronnie & Georgia. The sunken living room is the striking feature piece, decorated with boldly coloured carpet and on-brand mid-century accents including their beautiful brick fireplace using PGH Bricks’ Morada Blanco Linear, built in full-height stacked bond. The team have effectively used décor and furnishings like large rugs and statement art to create a practical living-dining space that speaks to the flow of their home, without being overpowering or polarising.

Ah, the boys. Josh & Luke have been known for their hit-and-miss track record and this week was no different. Once again, scale and proportion were at the forefront with a large 8-seater dining setting being combined with merely a three-seat lounge and armchair that can’t accommodate. Kate does commend the twins for taste in furnishings, the curved brass base of their coffee table is very on-trend and fits well within their colour palette and theme.

Moving onto Kirsty & Jesse’s house, they’ve created a stylish and comfortable family living area, with lots of soft furnishings. The Australian-made Noosa Fabric Modular sofa from Freedom is Kate’s personal favourite and the dining setting is also firmly on-brand in the couple’s signature Hamptons style, for a polished and well-thought-out finish to their space. While they have opted for a traditional Hamptons feel, Jono suggests mixing up the dining chairs and using different profiles for a more modern, coastal look if that’s your preference.

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Tanya & Vito – House 3

So, what is Kate’s take on where to save and where to splurge when it comes to living and dining?

Definitely splurge on your dining table and your lounge – “you’ve got to have a super-comfortable lounge that not only feels good but looks good,” says Kate. Where you can save is in your décor items – think cushions and throws as pieces that you can use to have fun, adding pops of colour to your space and swap out seasonally.

Jono’s Top Tips

Tip 1

Bring personality to neutral spaces using pops of colour and warm materials such as timber, leather and woven accessories, for a lived-in look and feel.

Tip 2

Think about the scale of the pieces in your home – starting with the all-important rug size, make sure you check how big your furniture and space is before selecting your rug.

Tip 3

Feature bricks are back – PGH Bricks’ Morada range offers bricks with different profiles, colours and finishes to bring a classic architectural feature to your home in an updated and modern way.

Tip 4

When it comes to a dining table, don’t be tempted to crowd it with chairs. Give your furniture breathing space and allow space for everyone to sit around comfortably, with stools coming in handy for when you have extra guests.

Tip 5

When picking colours in a room, make sure the tones all match. There are endless shades of every single hue, so make sure what you are selecting is complementary.

To hear more design and building insights, listen to The Blockcast featuring interior designer Jono Fleming each Monday after The Block reveals.

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