Portrait of Tammy Strobel


Everyone’s been talking about HDB’s move to make open kitchens a staple in all the flats built under the BTO (Build-To-Order) scheme. According to HDB, the decision was made in line with the popularity of open kitchens among homeowners here.

And while many are celebrating this “breaking down of the domestic wall” as a brilliant way of making more space in the living room, I’m not quite sold on the idea just yet.

There are so many issues with an open kitchen that you cannot simply expect it to function as dutifully as a conventional kitchen setup.

“Oh, but it makes the living room look much bigger,” you may argue. Well, guess what? If you can’t keep up with the maintenance required to keep an open kitchen tidy and speckless, a cluttered kitchen counter and dirty sink can make your living room look messier and smell worse than it already is.


An open kitchen is fine if the only appliances you intend to own are a fridge and a washing machine, and your culinary skills are restricted to boiling eggs and cooking instant noodles. Can you imagine coming home from a long day at work, only to be greeted by the sight of plates stacked up in the sink, next to a counter lined with a motley crew of kitchen appliances in complete disarray? Doesn’t that bring back memories of your university dorm room? My point exactly!

Furthermore, some fengshui experts believe that when entering a house, one shouldn’t have the stove in a clear line of sight, as it means all the positive energy entering a space will be burnt away. So if you’re keen on holding onto all the good fortune that’s flowing into your space, you may want to reconsider doing away with that dividing wall.

So, in spite of all that, why are so many homeowners still asking for an open kitchen? The movement really began a decade ago, when high-rise developers began creating them as the ideal way to fit a cooking area into a small apartment.

By dressing the show unit up nicely, they managed to convince prospective home buyers that an open kitchen is something desirable after all But that’s what show flats are for, to entice you with the flawless image of what your perfect home could look like – that is, until you actually have to live in it. Perhaps this is one of those lessons that can be learnt only from experience, and that may be why most people who are put off  by the idea of open kitchens, are the ones who have them.

 illustration KAFFY TAN
My Reading Room
Good to know
Instead of an open kitchen, consider creating a kitchen counter concealed behind full-length sliding doors. This way, you can hide your appliances when guests pop by.