Should I Have An Open Floor Plan?

Modernizing and updating your home’s floor plan can be a great option for a home renovation. Perhaps you’ve thought about removing a few walls to open up the space. An open floor plan may be the talk of every home improvement show on television, but is it really the right choice for your space? There are some advantages to doing so, but before you decide to take a sledgehammer to a random wall, there are a few more things to consider.

The Advantages of an Open Floor Plan

An open floor plan is defined as a home with fewer walls and open sightlines. That means you may be able to stand in the kitchen and see what’s on the television in the living room and right out the front window to see who’s pulling in the door. That’s the key advantage – being able to see and experience everything at once.

It sounds like a good thing, and it can be in some situations. A few key reasons people love open floor plans include these.

Advantage #1: There’s more space

When you get rid of walls and doorways, you create space. That’s one of the reasons home improvement shows love this feature, especially when they are flipping homes. It’s wonderful to not be restricted by walls when placing furniture or when one room really could use a few extra square feet that the other offers.

Advantage #2: There’s potentially more light

By removing obstacles around the home, there is the potential for more light to stream in the windows. It also reduces the number of shadows around the home from lamps and light fixtures. Natural light flowing into a home makes it more comfortable and overall more appealing. Even better, this can help the space to feel larger and less cramped. There’s no doubt that a home with too many sectioned off spaces and rooms is losing that open feel due to the lack of light.

Advantage #3: Better traffic flow

Another of the advantages is as simple as better traffic flow. Do your guests have to walk through several dark hallways to get to the kitchen? Do you find yourself having to navigate several rooms to get into the living space? Open concept homes typically have fewer paths people have to follow to get where they need and want to go. That opens up traffic flow and, especially when entertaining guests, it can make the space easier to use.

The Disadvantages of an Open Floor Plan

For some people, the investment in an open floor plan makes sense. It creates ample movement and lots of light. Now, take a step into 2020 and the time of the pandemic. Suddenly, there are numerous people at home, working and going to school online. It wasn’t long before many people with an open concept home struggled to find any peace and quiet. There was no door to close and fewer spaces to spread people out. For parents, managing team meetings on Zoom in one space while kids listened to lessons in the other room was difficult for everyone involved.

Even if all of your household members are back to school and back in the office, there are still a few important reasons why open floor plans are challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you move forward with this decision:

Disadvantage #1: Arranging furniture can be a challenge

One of the most common initial problems when opening up space is the lack of walls to place furniture, TVs, and desks. Suddenly, there are no walls to do so. That makes arranging the home a bit more challenging especially in homes where there are a lot of pieces to add. One way around this is to place larger pieces of furniture in the home to create barriers or define spaces (but doing so somewhat defeats the benefit of tearing down those walls).

Disadvantage #2: There’s less privacy and more noise

One of the things many people don’t think about when taking down walls is what those walls are actually doing. For example, they are helping to keep conversations on the phone or noisy kids’ programming contained more effectively. When you take down those walls, that sound is traveling through the home more readily.

It may be nice when two people are conversing across a room when they are home alone. However, when you have a few kids playing video games and someone trying to stream Netflix in the ‘other’ room, things get difficult.

The same applies to privacy. There are no doors or walls to give you a bit of time for a break from everyone else in the home. That’s going to make it harder when you need quiet time to read a book or just want some time to yourself without having to retreat to the bedroom.

Disadvantage #3: Open floor plans can cause clutter and mess and anxiety

Another factor to take into consideration is the clutter. When you have one big open space that serves as your foyer, living room, dining area, and then leads into the kitchen, every piece of furniture is in that space. It is easy to clutter up the home, making it very difficult to overlook the mess. For some people, all of that clutter can trigger a bit of anxiety.

That anxiety may be amplified when there’s a sudden knock on the door and there’s no way to shut the door to the dining room so no one sees the kids’ toys or the mess of books you were thinking about organizing.

Which is the right decision for you? Instead of making a decision outright, it may be better to talk to an architect who can design spaces that fit your family’s needs without putting yourself at risk of having limited overall function or the ability to duck into the dining room for a bit of quiet time and a glass of wine. Take a careful look at the various ways to make your space feel open, airy, and fully lighted without minimizing the overall benefits that a home with defined spaces tends to offer.