6 Reasons Why You DON’T Want An Open Floor Plan
Ever since Frank Lloyd Wright introduced his open floor plan design with his “Robie House” in 1910 the open floor plan layout has only increased in popularity. The mindset of the average American changed from wanting individual rooms with individual uses, to a more casual and open floor plan designed for family gathering and casual entertaining.
The open floor plan design is beneficial for entertaining and everyday living. Families with children can easily watch over them while preparing a meal or doing another activity. The open floor plan also allows for more natural light. Light from windows can flow from one area to the next, unhindered by walls. A smaller space, such as a loft apartment, can appear larger with an open floor plan. With square footage a premium in some cities, the open floor plan design has become standard in city living. The open floor plan also allows for flexibility. Homeowners can change the use of an area as their lifestyle and needs change. A dining area can become a child’s play and study area, artists studio, or home office space.
But an open floor plan can also be a hinderance to your desires and lifestyle. Design shows are consistently tearing down walls in an effort to “open up” a space. But what do you lose with all of this open, togetherness?
An open floor plan may seem like a fun and bustling environment, but you will undoubtably lose privacy. You can no longer take a private phone call in the common living spaces, but will have to retreat to your individual bedroom. Your trade secret martini preparation is on display for the entire dinner party to witness. And all displays of affection, are not public displays of affection.
Noise is absorbed by surfaces, but with no surfaces to absorb noise, you home will become a chamber of sound reverberation. Suddenly you realize every little sound your home makes. You hear the hum of the refrigerator in the dinning area. The rumble of the dishwasher interrupts your favorite TV show in the living area. And your television can be clearly heard in every adjacent room. Open flow design means open flow to every sound, noise, and voice.
In an open concept design, there is no escaping the clutter and mess of everyday life. Mail, dishes, toys, work papers, and other day-to-day clutter accumulates in your living spaces. And although in an enclosed room a few papers will not appear to be “a mess” the cumulative in an open floor plan amasses to what appears to be a chaotic living space.
When you host a dinner party, feet away is the messy kitchen on display for all of your guests. Because of this pitfall in an open concept design, a new luxury concept has been introduced by Ian Bogost of The Atlantic, stating the need for a “mess kitchen” –an out-of-sight kitchen where the actual meal preparation is done in order to maintain the illusion of tidiness while entertaining. The necessity of adding an additional kitchen in order to entertain in style is probably why in Frank Lloyd Wright’s original design, he did not incorporate the kitchen into the open floorplan, but had the kitchen closed off in the corner of the home. The incorporation of the kitchen into the open floor plan is relatively new in home design.
Opening up a home can create a beautiful living space, but can also lead to a lack of intimate space and subsequent lack of coziness. Intimate, small spaces create a sense of warmth and welcoming. An open concept removes the opportunity for the nooks and crannies that can add character to a home. Small intimate spaces allow for intimate conversations or just a comfortable place to read or work.
An open floor plan can tear down obstruction and facilitate connection, but it limits your design choices. When all living spaces are connected you are limited to one mood and interior design concept. Your kitchen must match your dining area, must match your living area, must match your entryway, must match your patio… Your artwork, paint or wallpaper choices, floor coverings, furniture, and every knickknack must all flow together in a seamless design, or risk looking disjointed and upsetting the flow of your open concept home. Not to mention, the lack of walls means lack of wall space. You’re limited to the art and family photos you can display. Further limiting your unique sense of style and influence over your home.
But with traditional closed off rooms your sense of style is less limited. You can create a luxurious dining room with damask wall paper, oil paintings in baroque frames, with a unique dining room table that would never match anything else. Your living room can be casual and relaxing with pastels and a subtle tropical theme, while your separate kitchen can be ultra-modern with lots of steel and glass, task lighting, and sharp color contrasts. An open floor plan limits your design to align harmoniously within the connected living space, while a traditional living space opens up your ability to express your style uniquely in each room.
Unless you live in Southern California you’re going to have to deal with changing weather and a utility bill to match. In an open concept design the fewer interior walls makes preserving the heat in winter and the cold in summer more challenging for your HVAC unit, and your wallet. Furthermore, the open floor plan means that despite your best efforts, there will always be an area of the house that doesn’t get quite as cool or warm as you would like. Conversely, a traditional living space allows you to selectively heat and cool certain rooms by simply closing vents and doors.
An open floor plan is fantastic for entertaining, but it also doesn’t incorporate all the time you’re not entertaining. Unless you’re the Kennedy’s, your day-to-day life doesn’t revolve around entertaining. Most of the time your life is filled with mundane activities like trying to read a book while your kids are playing, or cooking dinner while your spouse watches TV. An open concept design may bring your spaces together, but it may make them compete for attention while never being clearly defined or giving you’re the special privacy that you need. A traditional home can give you a sense of refuge and comfort in defined rooms. (This may explain the popularity of “man caves” and “she sheds”.) Freedom of space and design sometimes means putting up a few barriers.
Regardless if you love an open concept living space, or a more traditional home, Ilcor Builders is available to help you design and build the home of your dreams. Ilcor Builders can help you balance the kind of lifestyle you want to live with your own personal design style. We have over 50 years of experience building the dream homes of Texas residents, and we would love the opportunity to talk to you about your unique home ideas.
Ilcor Builders has been building custom homes in Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas since 1963. We are a family owned business with over 50 years’ experience building custom homes. We would love the opportunity to discuss your custom home goals in our design studio in North Austin or in the comfort of your home. Please contact us at 512-476-7568 or request a free consultation.