An open-plan kitchen that brings in natural light and connects to the outdoors is a dream for many homeowners. This type of kitchen blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a seamless flow and an airy, spacious feel. The increased natural light and connection to nature provide both aesthetic and functional benefits.

Benefits of Natural Light in the Kitchen

Natural light provides many advantages for an open-plan kitchen:

Enhances the Cooking Experience

Cooking in a space filled with natural light simply feels better. Sunlight streaming in through large windows makes food preparation tasks easier and more enjoyable. The natural light allows you to see ingredients, measurements, and cooking processes more clearly. Preparing meals feels less like a chore and more like a tranquil, rewarding experience when surrounded by the sun’s rays.

Improves Mood and Reduces Stress

Studies show that exposure to natural light improves mood, increases focus and alertness, and reduces stress. The brightness helps regulate circadian rhythms and hormone production. Cooking and cleaning are daily tasks that everyone must do. Having an open, sunlit kitchen makes these chores less dreary and more uplifting. The light feels energizing and refreshing.

Adds Warmth and Beauty

Sunlight brings beauty and visual warmth to kitchen spaces. The natural light dancing across countertops creates ever-changing patterns. Sunbeams raking across the walls add coziness and character. The natural light warms and brightens the entire ambience of the cooking space throughout the day.

Enhances a Sense of Space

Proper natural lighting makes kitchen areas feel more open and expansive. Sun rays bouncing off light wall and cabinet colors give the perception of enlarged spaces. The flood of natural light reaches all corners and crevices, minimizing any feeling of claustrophobia or confinement.

Provides Vitamin D

Humans absorb vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Kitchens that receive a regular dose of natural light give occupants the opportunity to gain this critical vitamin. Preparing meals beside sun-filled windows allows you to absorb vitamin D to maintain strong bones, muscles, and immunity.

Benefits of Indoor/Outdoor Connections

In addition to natural light, open-plan kitchens that connect to outdoor spaces provide added benefits:

Fresh Air

Large windows, glass doors, or open transitional spaces allow fresh outdoor air to circulate through the cooking areas. This air exchange reduces stuffiness and stale odors. The breezes make the kitchen feel more refreshed and pleasant for dining and entertaining.

View of Nature

A direct view of nature from the sink or prep space provides a calming influence. Being able to look out on trees, gardens, landscapes, or sky while cooking food is soothing for the mind and spirit. More time spent gazing at natural greenery and vistas results in lower stress levels.

Sounds of Nature

With direct access to the outdoors, you can open windows or doors to let in natural sounds. Listening to birds chirping, wind blowing, or water flowing makes cooking tasks more enjoyable and peaceful. These nature sounds mask less pleasant noises from kitchen appliances.

Indoor/Outdoor Entertaining

Open-plan kitchens that connect to outdoor patios, decks, or gardens allow for seamless indoor/outdoor entertaining. Guests can easily transition between the kitchen, dining, and outdoor areas. Doors and windows can open wide to accommodate larger groups. More space provides added flexibility.

Easy Access to an Herb/Vegetable Garden

For homeowners who enjoy gardening, an open-plan kitchen allows close access to outdoor herb and vegetable gardens. Cooks can easily step outside to snip fresh herbs and grab ripe vegetables. This farm-to-table convenience enhances the cooking and dining experience.

Design Elements for Open-Plan Kitchens

To maximize natural light and connections to the outdoors, open-plan kitchen designs should incorporate certain elements:

Large Windows

Installing sizable windows is key to bringing abundant natural light into the kitchen space. Large windows also provide pleasing views of nature. Situate windows overlooking attractive outdoor areas. Optimize sunlight penetration with southern or eastern exposures.

Skylights/Clerestory Windows

Skylights or clerestory windows placed high on walls or ceilings allow daylight to penetrate deep into a kitchen’s interior. Positioned properly, these architectural features can flood a kitchen with natural light, even if the outdoors is not visible.

Glass Doors

Glass doors leading to patios, decks, or gardens are ideal for connecting a kitchen to the outdoors. French doors, sliding doors, or multi-panel patio doors with full glass allow light and air flow while opening up sightlines.

Transitional Spaces

A screened porch, greenhouse, solarium, or covered patio adjoining the main kitchen establishes a transitional space between indoors and outdoors. This can provide air circulation, plant life, and exposure to sunlight.

Indoor Greenery

Houseplants bring a connection to nature right into the kitchen. Positioning planters of herbs, ferns, orchids, or other greens around the cooking space keeps nature always in sight.

Natural Materials

Use of natural materials like stone, brick, or wood for walls, floors, and cabinets helps the kitchen harmonize with the outdoors. Warm, textured, natural surfaces allow the kitchen to flow into the landscape.

Outdoor Kitchen/Grill Access

Convenient access to an outdoor kitchen or grilling area extends entertaining space and takes advantage of good weather. French doors that open directly to an outdoor cooking space improve the indoor/outdoor connection.

Open-Plan Kitchen Layout Design Ideas

Here are some layout ideas to allow an open-plan kitchen to gain light and access to nature:

Breakfast Nook by Garden Window

Place a table and chairs or banquette in a breakfast nook bumped out from a large garden window. This provides a cozy dining spot flooded with natural light and views of the yard.

Peninsula With Glass Doors Behind

Situate cabinetry peninsulas and work aisles so that glass doors align at the end to highlight the outdoor areas beyond. This draws the eye towards the exterior views.

Work Triangle Near Windows

Organize the sink, stove, and refrigerator work triangle near windows to maximize light during food prep tasks. Just a shift of layout can align the triangle with prime light exposure.

Island With Window Seating

Include a large window seat or built-in banquette next to a kitchen island situated in front of a window. This allows diners to gaze outside while enjoying a casual meal.

Adjacent Greenhouse Room

Attach a glass greenhouse or sunroom addition next to the kitchen to establish an airy, light-filled oasis adjoining the work area. The plant life and windows connect to nature.

Indoor Herb Garden Window Boxes

Mount herb garden window boxes along sunny sills or below skylights. Let basil, oregano, thyme, and other herbs flourish with sunlight and link to the outdoors.

Open Shelving Near Windows or Doors

Install floating open shelves near windows or doors to display houseplants, vases, flower pots, or fruit. Silhouetted by natural light, these serve as mini indoor gardens.

Best Practices for Implementation

To most effectively implement the design for maximum light and outdoor connection:

  • Consult with architects, designers, and builders experienced in open-plan kitchens to actualize the layout.
  • Determine optimal window placement and scale by considering sun angles, views, ventilation needs, and structural elements.
  • Select energy efficient window materials such as double/triple glazing to allow in light while controlling heat/cold transfer.
  • Use light, reflective paint colors on walls, cabinetry, and ceilings to maximize light diffusion into all areas.
  • Incorporate electronic dimmable shades on windows/skylights to control glare and heat gain as needed.
  • Use transitional spaces like screened porches or patios to establish a buffer zone between indoors and outdoors.
  • Landscape outside views with attractive plants, garden structures, and comfortable seating arrangements.
  • Zone appliance locations away from windows or transitions spaces to minimize blocking of light.
  • Install interior glass partition walls or translucent dividers to filter and distribute natural light deeper into space.
  • Accentuate the indoor/outdoor connection by decorating with natural textured materials and organic patterns.

Enhancing the Cooking and Dining Experience

Ultimately, an open-plan kitchen flooded with natural light and connected to the outdoors enhances the experience of cooking and dining:

  • Preparing meals feels more tranquil and satisfying illuminated by sunshine streaming in through expanded windows.
  • Family and guests appreciate dining in a space made warm, bright, and cheerful by the sun’s rays.
  • Easy access to fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit right outside the door enlivens healthy, farm-to-table home cooking.
  • Entertaining is more relaxed and enjoyable with options to mingle and dine either indoors or outdoors.
  • Washing dishes with a view of nature right through the window makes even mundane chores more uplifting.
  • Sitting at a counter stool with a cup of coffee and gazing out at the garden starts the morning off with calm and optimism.

With smart design considerations, open-plan kitchens can fully realize their potential for healthy, happy, and inspiring spaces to cook, dine, and live. The infusion of natural light and connections to the landscape result in kitchens that truly feel like part of nature inside the home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about open-plan kitchens gaining light and connecting to nature:

How much natural light is ideal for an open-plan kitchen?

Aim for at least 4 hours of direct sunlight entering through windows or skylights for adequate natural light. South and east facing windows receive the most sunlight. Also consider reflected light bouncing off light wall and cabinet colors.

What are good outdoor areas to connect a kitchen to?

Patios, decks, yards, gardens, views of nature, and outdoor kitchens are excellent outdoor spaces to associate with open-plan kitchens. Access to plants, fresh air, and views improves the kitchen environment.

Should the entire kitchen have a direct outdoor connection?

Not necessarily. Having the key areas like a breakfast nook, work triangle, or prep zones connected to outdoor areas or good views can suffice. Transitional spaces also indirect the link effectively.

What window styles work best in open-plan kitchens?

Casement, double-hung, or awning windows with large unobstructed glass areas allow for generous daylight. Bay or bow windows bumped outwards also usher light inwards. Skylights overhead or clerestory windows high up penetrate light deep into kitchen interiors.

How can glare from sunlight be controlled?

Strategically placed overhangs, tints, shades, blinds, or smart glass can help diffuse and control excessive light or glare as needed. Proper orientation and adjustable window coverings give the ability to regulate light.

Can screens be used to keep insects out?

Yes, well-designed screen doors or windows can allow fresh air flow while preventing bugs from entering. Screened porch rooms also establish nice transitional spaces off the kitchen.

What are good plants for indoor kitchen gardens?

Herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and some houseplants like orchids, ferns, bromeliads and air plants do well in indoor kitchens. Be sure to research plant requirements for light, humidity, and watering.

How can appliances be arranged to maximize light?

Situate appliances like ovens and dishwashers that don’t need natural light in areas away from windows and transitions. Group items like sinks and prep surfaces that benefit from daylight near prime light sources.

Is additional lighting needed?

Yes, even with abundant natural light, task lighting, accent lighting, and ambient lighting are still needed, especially for nighttime use. Combining natural and artificial lighting is ideal.


An open-plan kitchen that invites natural light and connections to nature results in a enjoyable, healthy, and inspiring space at the heart of a home. Strategic window placement, transitional spaces, layout configurations, material selections, and decor choices all contribute to maximizing these connections. A kitchen immersed in natural light truly uplifts the experience of cooking, dining, and living. With mindful design, your open-plan kitchen can gain these invaluable benefits.