To Open Concept or Not To Open Concept

Dated: April 2 2021

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That Age-Old Question – Is Open Concept the Ideal Home Design?

It may seem that everyone wants to live in an open concept home – at least everyone on HGTV.  Inevitably, when the homeowners walk into their newly renovated space at the end of each episode, they shed tears of joy over the lack of walls.  “It’s so open!!”, they exclaim. 

But is it the best design choice for everyone?  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to open concept living.

Pros:

  • An open concept home where the kitchen, dining room and living rooms are combined allows us to keep an eye on the kids.  When our bundles of joy are old enough to sit and young enough to still want to spend time with the family, open concept allows us to cook dinner, supervise toddlers, monitor screen time, and break up fights without leaving the kitchen.
  • Open concept gives us the illusion of more space.  The combined rooms look enormous when we can see through of them at once.  We have created one large living area by removing the walls.
  • The absence of walls creates a brighter space.  Natural light can travel and fill the space, from one end to the other.
  • Entertaining in an open floor plan feels more inclusive (the cook isn’t trapped alone in the kitchen, wondering what they are missing and what hilarious story Martha is telling) and we can potentially accommodate more people in the home without those pesky walls.
  • Having an open concept might help with resale value as it is seen as more contemporary.  It is “contemporary” - meaning it is “currently popular” – like wallpaper borders or wall-to-wall carpet in the bathroom during the 1980’s.  
  • Lastly, an open floor plan creates space for movement around the home.  It becomes more accessible (an aspect I appreciate, having a daughter who uses a wheelchair).  Walls do get in the way and there’s only so much a Magic Eraser can do to combat the scuff marks on doorways.

Cons:

  • You might feel obligated to keep your kitchen clean (not an entirely negative aspect, I suppose?).  With an open floor plan, everyone can see everything.  Ultimately, it’s your choice to clean or not, but it’s something to keep in mind.
  • Speaking of one’s senses, noise & smell travel freely though the home.  The lack of walls can result in unfiltered noise if everyone in the family is in the open space together.  Cooking smells are no longer confined to the kitchen, missing out on all the action, either.
  • Like youth, lovers, and healthy gums, walls are often not fully appreciated until after they are gone.  We might miss the potential for storage space or shelving or displaying art. 
  • An open concept space might lack coziness.  This can be overcome, but it takes some thoughtful planning and arranging of lighting and furniture.
  • The home can actually feel smaller because our eye has nowhere to rest in between “rooms”.  A closed floor plan – in which rooms are broken up with walls can seem larger.
  • Finally, in an open concept home there is limited privacy – we cannot get away from each other.  Open concept living may become another casualty of the pandemic.  We aspired to being together when we were all working, going to school, and participating in activities outside of the home.  Now we dream of walls.

Whether the pendulum swings the other way to closed floor plan living as the more desirable option remains to be seen.  I do know one thing, and I would bet a lot of money that wall-to-wall carpet in bathrooms won’t make a comeback any time soon.

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Deborah Fletcher

I have ALWAYS loved “nesting”! Growing up I couldn’t wait to do my own nesting – starting with my first apartment. Now, as a homeowner, I still continually go through open houses, admiring ho....

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