Second Thoughts on Open Floor Plans

In previous eras, an impressive home was one with many rooms, each intended for a separate family activity. But in the past fifty years, builders have realized that, by designing connected spaces with fewer interior walls, they can fit more usable living space into the same square footage.

Open floor plans are popular with many homebuyers precisely because they remove the divisions between the home’s different domains, making it easier for a family to spend time together in a single, common area. Frequently the kitchen, dining room, and living room are combined into a single “great room”, where family activities can be shared. Parents can easily keep an eye on kids while performing household chores, or hosts can prepare a gourmet meal while their guests lounge comfortably on the couch nearby. The space doesn’t feel crowded, even when you’re entertaining a large group, and the removal of interior walls allows natural light to travel throughout the house.

Before you fall in love with an open floor plan, however, you should consider whether you are prepared for some of the challenges of living in a large, undivided space:

You can’t hide the mess. The pristine expanse of a well-appointed great room looks luxurious and inviting when you see it in a magazine, but real life is a bit messier than that. The beauty of a room with a door is that the door can be closed, and no one needs to know that you haven’t done the dishes, picked up the laundry, or otherwise kept every little item in its place.

You can’t hide either. In a home where many people live together, it can be useful to have enclosed spaces where each member of the family can find privacy and attend to their own needs. If there are people of different ages in your household, or you’re not always a social person, you might enjoy a more traditional home, where it will be easier to find a quiet spot away from household noise.

Decorating can be challenge. In a large space that serves many functions, it’s easy for clutter to become a problem. Visually, the space will look neater and more organized if your kitchen, dining, and living room decor are carefully coordinated. Sticking with a neutral colour palette will make the task. If you want to make bold, flashy decorating choices, you might prefer a home with smaller rooms and more walls to work with.

As you look for a new home and think about what kind of layout is right for you, consider your specific needs rather than what looks best in a magazine. Consider how each home’s design might meet your family’s needs, and how those needs might change over time. A beautiful home is one where you and your family will be happy for years to come. Let us help you find it!