Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Open Concept Floor Plans: Is this always a one size fits all deal?

Why Open floor plans aren't always the best option

Open floor plans are no doubt something you've heard many times over. You've heard it when house shopping, you've heard it on renovation shows and you've likely seen examples of it in magazines. You've likely heard a lot of chatter about how desirable it is if you're selling your home or want to renovate. So there is no doubt this current trend is in full force and chances are it is going to be a permanent fixture in the world of home construction and architecture. 

You've heard the good. Have you considered the bad? Well, in spite of precious few articles and information on why it's not always the best choice, it really needs to be considered fully before you sign the dotted line or jump and make a quick decision. Here's some things to think about before you decide what you'd like versus what will work for your life, now and in the future.

In magazines, open floor plans look spectacular. In reality, open floor plans can make furniture placement, and decorating a nightmare. Walls not only provide you with a great place to display artwork or add storage via shelves, but they also help with placement of furniture. If you have the typical six piece set up for furniture, such as sofa/love-seat/end tables/coffee table, walls can give you more identifiable placement options. Usually big walls are ideal for sofas, mid-size for love-seats and so on. No walls means furniture must float in the room and this isn't always easy to do. Defining a focal point can be a challenge if you purchase a home that doesn't have a fireplace or some other obvious feature. One thing to also remember is open concept doesn't always equal large spaces. To "float" furniture adequately you must have enough space to navigate around each piece. Open concept smaller homes could possibly mean eliminating some of your existing furniture. Unless a home has electrical outlets in the floor you may find it challenging to have lighting from lamps as well.

Open floor plans can make it harder to keep little ones out of the kitchen. While you may want to be able to "keep an eye" on little Billy, having him underneath you while you're cooking could be an issue too. Falling, bumping and tripping over little ones can be a real safety hazard. Think you're off the hook if you're an “empty nester”? Not necessarily. Grandchildren will be running throughout your home as well which means constantly policing invisible borders between living spaces and kitchen areas and that can be exhausting as well. Don't forget, stoves with front knobs are easy to turn on for little ones and oven doors can get hot and hurt at that level too.

Open floor plans demand you be a little tidier than you may want to be. If you're not the tidiest of people, open floor plans are either going to make you step up your game and clean more diligently, or you're going to find yourself struggling to hide your mess.

 Something to think about as well. If you're an excellent housekeeper this would not be an issue, but if you're a busy mom or dad, this might be something to think about. 

The bottom line is this, don't be fooled by what may be the latest fad and assume this will be the best solution for you. There are no “one size fits all” floor plans and careful consideration of both now and future should be factored into any decision you make.


  1. Dawn, enjoyed your article and agree completely with your comments and observations. You're right in saying that everyone should consider what works best for them and their family. We tend not to be influenced by "Fads and Trends", but rather by what we prefer. We live in the mountains where things are more relaxed and casual, but I would never be comfortable with guests seeing a messy kitchen that I haven't yet had time to clean. We couldn't live without walls to display our art and as a place for furniture. Personally, we think that the open floor plans look like a gym, or a school cafeteria. Thank you again for your article, and I hope that it gives your readers an opportunity to think about what is best for them.

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    2. Thank you so much Bev for your thoughts on Open concept living. Too many people get caught up in what the design industry dictates and not many are thinking beyond the trends and about actual lifestyle needs, which in fact change a great deal over time. I have written two articles citing the pros and cons, but for my own personal experience I like my entertaining spaces to have a comfortable level of obscurity from my kitchen area. I like an open concept kitchen, that just happens not to be open to my front entry, or common entertaining areas..I will write a post elaborating on that. Again, thank you so much for commenting :D


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