Great room (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)
Most of us hear this phrase constantly on television. Whether it is a real estate show, or a home improvement or renovation show, the phrase is out there. Most of us tend to place a great deal of stock in the words of the hosts of these shows and you can see it now like never before. I am almost positive home buyers were not walking into houses in the 1950's requesting "an open concept" design.
You will no doubt hear words like "great for entertaining, " from people that are house shopping. The question is, do you entertain as much as you think you do to justify the open space? Some may say they will entertain more with an open concept living space, however, this is usually not the case. Frequent entertaining of guests requires a lot of time, effort, and money.
If you are living a busy lifestyle already, that probably isn't going to change just because you have an open concept home. Entertaining may pick up in the beginning because we are anxious to show off our new home, but the time, effort and expense of hosting big parties will typically die down over time.
Not to mention more and more men are adding their input into the design aesthetic of home design and decor these days. I can't even begin to imagine Ward Cleaver saying, I don't like those "window treatments" as opposed to "drapes." I still chuckle a little at this considering many men still need their wives to pick out their clothes for them. However, they are finding their voice in home decor and design, and many have very strong opinions now. It may be in part to the fact that a home purchase today is a risky investment in the short term.
All in all society has been well educated in decor and design to a degree. However, open concept designs do have some draw backs. These draw backs should be considered if you have a lifestyle that tends to be short on time and big on activity. However, that being said there's different types of open concept designs and some work better for families than others.
You don't have to feel quarantined from the rest of the family while cooking.
Open concepts give the illusion of more space.
Easier for some parents to keep an eye on little ones.
Popular design for resale. Homeowners tend to follow trends and make many choices by what they believe to be popular with the general public. This is often given in large doses to the public via television shows that talk about real estate and home improvement. The media influence is everywhere.
If your open concept includes no barriers between your living area and your kitchen, you may have to work harder keeping that area of your home clean.
The smelly side of things. An overflow with the dishwasher or a plumbing issue can seep into your living room, and can cause damage to flooring, odors from a backed up sink or garbage disposal can travel throughout the living space.
Not always safer and easier to watch little ones. Homes with small children will have to be a little more cautious of children getting into the kitchen and handling dangerous utensils, touching a hot cook top or even grabbing a pot on the stove. Of course this can happen in any home, but a kitchen that has some barrier between itself and a living space is easier to block off with child gates etc. You will certainly need more cabinet locks, etc.
Big open spaces may take longer to warm up or cool down. Depending on where you live, large high ceilings and open floor plans may be more expensive to heat and cool.
Other ideas on floor plans
Alternative designs that offer some open concept. Great rooms are still a popular facet in home design. These rooms are typically the merging between a dining space and a living space. Some times the kitchen is viewable, sometimes only the dining space is from the living area. Some may prefer not to have a kitchen that is instantly viewable by someone just walking into my home. While the foyer is slowly disappearing from homes today, they do offer some privacy between your private home life and those entering the home. Some homeowners may prefer the idea of someone not walking directly into the living area of their home. A foyer seem to provide that small measure of privacy.
The bottom line is to chose homes and renovations with great care. What works today may not work in the future so give things a lot of thought. A skilled interior decorator or designer will take into consideration your lifestyle needs and family activity. Do you have a lot of visitors? Do you entertain frequently? Don't just follow what you believe is popular in mainstream society. Design what works for you specifically. In some cases open concept may not offer you the greatest comfort or practicality, and isn't that what a home should be about? A comfortable space that suits your lifestyle and your individual needs? Don't be afraid to make your space your own.