If you have a closed-off kitchen and you want a more open feel, you may want to consult with a kitchen designer. They can help you decide on the best approach for your space. In the meantime, however, here are some ideas to consider.
1. Remove Walls
If you want to open the kitchen so that it flows into other living spaces, you will likely need to tear down walls. If the walls have supporting beams, you need to turn those into pillars, or keep the wall intact and opt for a large window combined with a bar.
For variety, consider leaving the wall intact but putting in a double set of French doors. Then, you can open the area as desired but also have the option to close off the space.
2. Put in a Transition Object
Ideally, you need something to smooth the transition between the kitchen and the living space. This could be a countertop bar with stools or an island. Some people also like to use a single step. Having the living room a step lower than the kitchen creates an open feel while maintaining a distinction between the two areas.
3. Integrate a Mini Lounge Area
If you already have a relatively large kitchen but you just want to make more room for people to hang out near the cook, you may want to brainstorm some ideas with your kitchen designer. In particular, you may want to figure out how to get a mini lounge into the area.
Some people call this a keeping area. It's essentially a space where people can be close to the cook without being underfoot. An unused corner, a formal dining area that you don't use often or an empty space near a patio door can all be turned into this type of space. You only need room for a couple of comfortable chairs and a rug to make it cozy.
4. Put in a Hood Fan
Regardless of the exact design you choose, if your kitchen is open, you need to take extra steps to prevent cooking fumes from reaching the rest of the kitchen. To that end, you may want to put in a hood fan. For best results, vent it to the outside.
5. Consider Quiet Appliances
In that same vein, you may want to look at quiet appliances. Sometimes called sound-dampening appliances, these ovens, dishwashers, and other appliances hum quietly so that you can keep the conversation going in your kitchen. Small touches like this help make your kitchen design perfect.