If you have looked into the different trends in the housing market, you have already heard about the open floor concept. Over the past few years, many people have been interested in purchasing homes with an open floor plan. Meanwhile, those with older homes are ready to tear some walls down.
What does this concept entail exactly? This blog will tell you what this fad is all about its history, and why you should and should not have an open floor concept plan for your home.
What is an Open Floor Plan?
As the name suggests, this concept is about having open spaces. A typical home has individual rooms partitioned using walls. This residential architecture is the standard design and has existed even before World War II.
In an open floor concept, the spaces do not have dividers or walls. They are all joined or merged, so there is a larger area. Walls take some room, which is why they are eliminated and used as additional space instead.
A common misconception with an open floor plan though is that there are no walls. This concept, however, does not work like that. You will still have some walls in the house. In reality, this design only involves the common areas, such as the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Therefore, it does not include the bedrooms and bathrooms.
There are different designs, but there are four standard ones, which are:
Living Room and Dining Room
This combination is excellent for those who want to have more room for the holidays and parties. If you often host get-togethers or you invite other people for a celebration, you will like this design. It helps increase the amount of space you have for entertaining your guests. In this concept, you will use different paint colours to represent the two areas. There are other ways to divide them, but it is the most common method in maintaining that open feel design.
Living Room and Kitchen
The kitchen and living room combination is probably the most popular design. Many homeowners prefer it, especially those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It makes it easy to cook food while you socialise with your family or friends. You can communicate easily with those in the living area while you prepare food.
Kitchen and Dining Room
The barriers between the kitchen and dining room disrupt the flow of traffic through your home. When you remove these barriers, you can move freely from one room to the next. In some cases, this plan can include an island, which serves as the divider between these two spaces. Therefore, you do not need to completely close the areas, which can also improve their accessibility.
Kitchen, Living, and Dining Room
This design is also quite popular since it creates a single communal space in the house. There are often visual divisions between these three spaces, but they are all connected with one another. It certainly embodies the open floor concept.
Where The Concept Came From
An open floor plan has not been around for a long time. It is relatively new, but it has become so popular in just a few years of existence. As mentioned, before the Second World War, homes would have a basic floor plan.
This basic design is one that most of us are familiar with. When you enter the main hallway, you see the house branching out to different rooms with specific purposes. The living room is typically at the front while the kitchen is at the back. This way, the kitchen will remain a separate area for serving the residents and guests. It is not designed for socialising.
Often, a rear door opens to the kitchen where people can deliver the food to the dining area or the living room. Until the 1950s, entertainment remained a formal affair. It was only performed in either the dining room or living area while the kitchen was off-limits to visitors.
However, architects began to design the open floor plan. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the renowned architects who designed over 1,000 structures, paved the way for large open living spaces for homes. In his home plans, he combined living and dining areas in one room. Often, the partition used was only a large fireplace.
Even at this time, though, the kitchen was still considered a separate area. It was not a part of the open floor concept because it was seen as a service space.
After World War II, the real open floor plans began to emerge. The more casual homes were born in which the guests could access the kitchens. The trend started because of the young families with children, making it easy to oversee them.
As predicted, homes have an open floor style where the kitchen would be included in the design. Homeowners loved it because of the flexibility. Also, parents can keep an eye on their children while they prepare meals.
The open floor concept has become more practical, as well. The growing population required a more functional space. Homes, particularly in urban areas, would not have enough room, forcing the homeowners to put up with the situation. The sizes of homes began to shrink, which made it difficult for people to fit everything they needed in the area.
Families grew, but homes did not. The demand was high, which meant the homes have gotten more expensive to accommodate the need for additional space. During this time, homes no longer had studies or libraries, so the growing children would have to go to the dining room and do their homework on the available table there. Meanwhile, parents gained the benefit of watching over their children.
The materials used for constructing the houses also improved, so it was possible to create open floor designs. Materials and equipment evolved, including:
- The use of central heating and air conditioning systems to make the open floor areas comfortable
- The use of steel structural beams to support flooring that spans wider than normal
- Cinder block construction for better resistance against certain weather conditions
- Drywall to protect the house better against fires, as well as mould, moisture, and mildew
Other innovations also started to exist, making it easier and quicker to build homes with open flooring. These homes meant they had long spaces and efficient systems.
Before the beginning of the 1960s, open floor plans were already making regular appearances around the world. Soon, they were considered the modern home design.
Today, a house with a mid-century modern style would have the rudimentary design of an open floor concept in which there is one central fireplace that all sides can access. The kitchen would be the centre, serving as a place for cooking as well as for socialising.
As the 90s approached, open floor plans were more popular than ever, including in suburban areas. Many homes these days prefer this design and new homeowners choose it over other designs. Open floors even add value to the home for sale.
Pros and Cons of the Open Floor Concept
Spacious homes today mean that there are fewer walls and homeowners love them. There are many benefits people have gained with this concept. However, it does not mean it comes without drawbacks.
If you are thinking about remodelling your home and turning it into this style, you can enjoy the following advantages:
Your Small Space Will Feel Much Larger
If you already have a small space, you do not want to feel cramped. The problem with traditional homes is that they have walls that reduce the available space even more. Instead of adding more square metres, which can be out of your budget, you can go for this design.
It is also a good option for those who live in an apartment where expanding is not possible. Tearing down the walls tricks the eyes into thinking that your home has more space than it actually does.
You Can Create a More Family-orientated Home
If you cook for your family, you already know there is that feeling of being isolated while you prepare the meals. Perhaps the rest of the family members will be watching a show in the living room or even eating at the dining room; you have no choice but to complete your culinary responsibility.
You end up missing out on the bonding moments and conversation because the living spaces are separated from each other. To solve the problem, you can switch to an open floor concept.
Entertaining is More Convenient
Even though you have organised a well-planned party, your guests will eventually visit you in the kitchen. It does make sense though because they went there for the gathering and they would want to see you while they are in your home. Unfortunately, the divisions make it difficult for you to socialise, entertain, and prepare treats at the same time.
An open layout is an answer to such a difficulty. It is a favourite concept for those who have guests regularly. You can set up the food and even concoct your signature drink. It is a great design, so you can still take part in the conversation. At the same time, you do not have to worry about the guests getting in the way as you cook food.
You Get to Display the Beauty of Your Home Fully
There are no walls that block the view from one living area to the next. When Frank Lloyd Wright began changing how homes were designed, he highlighted the rooms. He wanted to encourage homeowners to choose an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.
The designs showed continuity and flow from one space to another, highlighting the beauty of a home. While the newer designs have greatly improved the earlier ones, this concept benefited from the old styles. Today, we get to witness the stunning visuals of an open floor concept.
Open Floors Help Eliminate Spaces That Would Otherwise Be Underused
Some homes have underused spaces. For instance, there is a room in your house where kids were not allowed to go. Perhaps you also have a formal dining room, but you do not use it unless during major holidays.
If you have a large percentage of unused spaces in your home, you can use the open concept design. This way, you can have these rooms used for another purpose.
These benefits sound excellent for homeowners. However, the open floor concept is not for everyone. Here are the reasons why you may want to think twice before you remodel your home into this design:
The Large Space May Overwhelm You
If you have some square metres to spare, changing the layout of your home may feel too much. In reality, you do not need walls and dividers to make your home feel warm and cosy. However, if it makes you think you live in a warehouse with amplified echoes, this design is not for you. It is a bad choice, especially for those who have high ceilings.
Additionally, you already know that it means your cooling and heating expenses will be even more expensive because of the huge space.
You Always Have Your Messy Kitchen on Display
One of the advantages of having an open floor layout is that it allows you to gain an unobstructed view of the house. It means that you can fully see your kitchen. Unfortunately, a real, busy kitchen can be extremely messy.
Working on a meal can result in chaos. You have bowls over the benchtops, veggies, meats, and spices could be everywhere waiting to be prepped, and pots and pans are in different states of use.
Not everyone can ace the clean-as-you-go technique. Therefore, it will be unavoidable to see clutter at some point. If you do not have time to keep cleaning after you have prepared the meals, you will always see the untidiness of this area. You cannot hide the mess for just a few minutes while you are entertaining your guests.
Containing the Mess is Not Easy
Aside from the kitchen, you also have to deal with the unorganised living and dining areas. There are times when you have a party, and you want to catch your breath, so you go to the kitchen. Other times, there are kids’ toys in the living room and papers piling up in your home office – there is disarray everywhere.
The good news with a closed floor plan is that you can hide the mess in their respective places. Your guests will not see that the study or the kitchen is messy because of the partition. However, with an open floor concept, you cannot conceal the chaos.
To solve the problem, you need to be a good mess manager and diligent in finding reliable storage for the clutter. However, it will only be temporary because the untidiness will eventually be revealed when the spaces are wide open.
You May Have to Deal With a Load-bearing Wall
Before remodelling your home, your first thought should be: do you have load-bearing walls? A load-bearing wall, as the name suggests, bears the load or the elements on top of the wall. It manages its weight by depending on the foundation structure.
Many compartmentalised homes have load-bearing walls. If you have such a wall in your house, knocking it down will be extremely costly. You also cannot do it on your own, so you have to hire a professional to do it for you.
For some homeowners, they would replace the walls with beams instead. These beams can displace the weight of the home’s structure. However, the problem is that they are not cheap at all. You will need to invest heavily on this concept if you truly like it.
There is a Lack of Privacy
If you need some time alone for work, but your kids are playing, or someone else is watching TV, you cannot get the solitude that you desire with an open concept home. There is almost no privacy with this design. It may be for family-orientated homes, but it means you will have to be together all the time.
Why Open Floors are Here to Stay
Many years ago, homes would have specific rooms for precise activities. Today, however, the open floor concept changed the way houses are designed. One reason why people choose to remodel and turn their homes into this open floor layout is that it fits any lifestyle and age.
You can work from home, have teenage or small kids, have a large family, or even just planning to start a family. It will be much easier to look after the smaller children while you do other tasks. The open floor concept is great for everyone, including those who want to retire. The open layout means there is less chance of falls, which is one of the top concerns of ageing.
For more than 40 years, the open floor concept has survived throughout all the modern remodelling options and trends. The flow of space and family togetherness are among the benefits, making this concept valuable for working parents, young couples, singles, and seniors as well.