Open concept home plans, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and hardwood floors are like the home template for all homeowners these days. I swear everyone on those home buying and home renovation shows seem all too eager to share the same interior as the next person.
There doesn’t seem to be any real creativity or better yet, originality when choosing the design. It’s like the homes are being built from the inside out instead of the outside in. Don’t get me wrong, I think all those things are nice and they may very well add to the resale of the home but I refuse to believe that everyone likes the exact same thing. Especially when it comes to making a 15 or 30 year commitment.
What is the open concept in a home? It is essentially the combination of two or more rooms to create one great room. It was adopted in an attempt to form the illusion of more usable living space within the same amount of square footage causing the space to appear larger.
The history of the open concept was born out of necessity for early American homes. Dwellings from the early 17th century were constructed with a couple of multipurpose rooms that centered around a hearth. The Industrial Revolution rolled in and created a more prosperous America which allowed for more sophisticated and specialized rooms.
Rooms were designated for a specific purpose: kitchen, parlors, library, bed chambers, etc. The new construction came with walls and doors to allow for more intimate settings and private spaces. New approaches along with increased technological advances during the 19th century sparked some really radical thinking to improve on heat and cooling control. Fireplaces were no longer going to be the sole heat provider as we are now introduced to registers and radiators. Welcome the open concept home plans.
Advantages of an Open Floor Plan
I know you are thinking, “What is she about to say?” or “Why is she trying to make me hate my open concept?” Well let me just give you a couple of positives before I move on to what this article is about. Open concept home plans are not all bad and in fact as I mentioned before, they add value as an investment or resale of a home because it is a very popular feature among home buyers. Beyond the resale, there are a few more advantages available. Let’s take a look at a few.
Increases the natural light– There is an allure to natural lighting and because there are no walls to block your view the sun can proudly display its rays. Using special lamps and track lighting may add to the design while brightening the space and although we like our pretty lamps, there is nothing like the natural light that comes from outside. Something about the sun that brings about a mood change. It is hard to sleep or be down when the warmth of the sun is kissing you ever so softly on your cheek.
Socially Acceptable– Having the kitchen and living areas combined allows for more social interaction with your family and guests. When the kitchen is its own separate room, it isolates the host. What better way to make your guest feel welcome than to include them in the process of making them feel welcome, right?! The cook or host can join in on conversations being had in the living or dining room which will eliminate the isolation.
Parental Control-Cooking or preparing meals in the kitchen with a wall between them and the kids in the next room may be a good reason to consider this floor plan. Open concept enables parents to keep an eye on the children while tending to that ever so fussy risotto.
Disadvantages of an Open Floor Plan
Although the open floor plan does have some good points it is important to point out its pain points as well. Otherwise, what’s the point of this article, right? After reading this article you might opt to have a closed, more defined floor plan.
No Definition– The lack of walls presents a new set of issues with the open concept floor plan. The space has no definition which makes it more difficult to place furniture. Most furniture will end up in the center of the room or could be awkwardly placed. Would you be alright with walking right into your living space from outside? What happens when it is winter and snow is everywhere? Would you still be ok to bring that messy wet snow into your great room?
Problems With Smelly Food– Food smells tend to travel in an open space. Your couch could end up smelling like last night’s dinner and that fried chicken smell in the sofa is not a cute look and will linger for some time after.
Not Energy Efficient- It is actually easier to heat and cool closed spaces than it is to heat and cool open spaces. That is because higher and larger spaces are harder to cool and heat rises leaving the area below a lot cooler and will ultimately have higher heating and cooling costs.
Harder to Keep Clean- When the space is bigger so is the mess. With an enclosed kitchen, for instance, the mess can be contained and better yet can be hidden from guests’ view until you are able to clean up. You can always get it cleaned up once company leaves but with an open floor plan it is always on display.
Seamless Decor Issues-Combining decor between two or three rooms so that it appears uninterrupted is a difficult thing to do without walls. Painting also falls into this category as it is hard as nails (as my husband would say) to pull off a cohesive color scheme between a few rooms with different purposes. Hanging artwork can also be an issue with no walls.
Lack of Privacy– Just think, every time you have a visitor whether that be the local girl scout, mailman or salesman, your whole layout, possessions and such can be seen from the front door. With no walls to block the view everything will be on display. Okay, okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic but what about when you want to hang out in the living room and read or watch your favorite show you will have to fight with the conversations going on in the kitchen. My point is you lack control of who sees what but I digress.
Wiring Issues– Constructing a second floor will require wiring for outlets, lights switches and more. With an open concept floor plan there will be a lack of walls space to accommodate the wiring all these things need. You will also find it difficult to plan for plumbing and HVAC return ducts.
A Few Solutions
I would not want to leave you on that note so I’ve come up with a few suggestions that may help if you already have an open concept home plan.
Furniture– Putting furniture against the wall is not possible since the wall is nonexistent so create a focal point by arranging the furniture like a sitting area, with a couple of chairs and a table. You could also make the sofa a divider by placing it between the kitchen and the living room area to define each space.
Painting-Limit your color scheme to light earthly tones. Sofas should remain light or white and you can add in some color with the pillows and accessories. Be sure to love the color scheme you choose because it should be carried throughout the open space to create a cohesive look. Consistency is key.
Energy Efficiency– Because heat rises, use ceiling fans in reverse to push the warm air down when the room is cold. Planting shade trees can reduce the heat index inside your home and keep it cool during the hot summer months. Click this link to see how you can get 10 FREE trees!
The Smell Issue– You can use activated charcoal as a deodorizer. It will absorb the fishy smell or any other smells associated with cooking and prevent it from taking over your home.
I personally happen to like walls and doors that separate and give purpose to each room in my home. You will ultimately make the decision to go with an open concept or not but whatever you decide just be sure it is a decision you can live with.
Taking down walls or putting them up is by no means an easy or cheap task. So plan and plan well and enjoy your space no matter what you decide.
Let me know in the comments what floor plan you actually prefer. If there are other points I may have missed in this article, please let me know in the comments as well. Until next time, Happy Decorating!