Open Concept Vs. Traditional Floor Plans. Which is Better?
The times they are changing and with it, so are floor plans. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, layouts were much more traditional, and every room had a specific purpose. If you were hosting a dinner, guests would typically sit in the formal living room and only eat in the dining room. The kitchen was tucked away behind closed doors, usually positioned at the back of the house with a back entrance for deliveries. After dinner, the men and women would retire to different rooms, and the children were expected to stay out of sight while the adults entertained. However, in the 1990s as families began to adopt a more casual approach in lifestyle, this heralded the popularity of the open floor plan.
What is an Open Floor Plan?
If you're building a custom home, one of the things you'll need to decide on is the type of floor plan you'd like your house to have.
The term open floor plan is used to describe homes in which two or more traditional-use rooms are combined to a much larger living space by removing walls that are dividing them apart. Typically, the kitchen, living room and dining room are the most popular types of rooms to combine. The biggest difference between traditional houses and modern homes is that today the kitchen has become the center of the house, and nearly all activity gravitates around it.
Pros of an open floor plan
Improved traffic flow
More natural light
Much easier for parents to monitor children
Furniture can be reconfigured easier
Ability to prepare meals while entertaining
More accessible for disabled or elderly family members
Cons of an open floor plan
Far less privacy
Higher noise levels
Not energy efficient
Construction costs can be much higher
Unless you like entertaining, cooking is in full view
Strong food odours can carry over into furniture
More visible messes without a door to hide behind
Children have more access to kitchen hazards
Potentially more sprawled out kitchen
No dedicated rooms for specific activities and hobbies
Fewer walls mean less overall storage space
Although the open floor plan has been an attractive design for decades, recent events have shifted this concept back to a more traditional design. It wasn’t that long ago we all had to handle working, schooling, resting, playing and eating all under one roof.
Why Did The Open Floor Plan Concept Change After COVID-19?
Regardless of whether or not these quick-fix solutions were temporary, there’s no doubt that the appeal of the open floor plan has come under scrutiny. When work and family life shifted completely towards home, it raised interesting questions about the future of modern home design. The communal space that has dominated as the preferred design choice, has seen a change in landscape. It turns out, having to do everything at home needs more privacy and separation. Unfortunately, wide open spaces aren’t ideal for ZOOM meetings, schoolwork, dinner preparation, excitable animals, and energetic children. This change in dynamic at home necessitates a need for more dedicated areas for various tasks and activities.
Is Personal Space Better Than Larger Space?
Regardless of how you layout your home, it’s no secret that there is a growing need for privacy and variety at home. We may see more tucked-in kitchens that connect to the living rooms. Lower ceilings and cased openings could create a space that feels open, but offers a feeling of separation between the kitchen and entertaining area. Architectural details like beams and molding can imply the feeling of separation without actually having one. Another option is double-sided glass cabinets and large cased openings, or grand pocket doors to close off rooms for more formal entertaining.
We may see more bay windows, alcoves and nooks in future designs for modern homes. This creates a subtle separation by changing the ceiling height, and allows the family a place to give them a moment away from the activities within the house. After all, we need places to rest away from our busy home life. Another option is that you could fit a dedicated dining area within this space as well.
Master bedrooms typically seem to be empty with unused space. Smaller master bedrooms, with adjacent, specific use spaces could see a rise in popularity. An alcove could be useful in the master bedroom, to partition off valuable space for a dressing room, or specific activity.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the landscape is an extension of the interior. Having complete access to the outside, with multiple access points to smaller, more defined outdoor areas can create an immense feeling of variety. Having an immediate escape from the house to have a breath of fresh air can be hugely beneficial to your family, and guests.
From Dining Room to Collaborative Space
Instead of eating on kitchen counters, coffee tables or laps, actually eating away from the kitchen, away from distractions, can be highly beneficial for your family. Get away from the visual noise, and enjoy each others company. After all, eating away from the kitchen can make meal planning and cooking more fun to do. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the space for multi-purpose functions. It can be a fantastic make-shift library, art studio, office, and guest room. Room dividers and moveable partitions will be a must-have. The addition of more portable furnishings and convertible furniture within the household could rise in popularity. Convertible pieces such as occasional drinks tables, hide-a-beds, folding game desks, and secretary desks could be a valid option for those wanting more functionality within their home. Having a Moorish style table could open up options where you’d like to eat and drink. For the home office, a closeable desk with a cabinet and drawers can be a perfect fit for a laptop or home computer. Ultimately, being able to shift a room from remote learning, to office space, to welcoming guests will be a huge benefit to your home.
Traditional Living Space Will Make a Comeback
Regardless of whether you enjoy open concept or traditional style homes, modern home design appears to be headed towards a happy medium that could potentially incorporate open space with much more private areas. There’s a growing emphasis on functionality, and there’s a new need for dedicated spaces. Room layouts are getting reimagined, and embracing flexibility is key. Regardless, traditional homes, and the return of the dining room, will make a comeback.
At White Wolf Homes, our professional team of designers and builders strive for quality and consistency throughout the building process. When it comes to building modern, traditional, or creating something in-between, our experts will make sure your custom home suits your needs. Contact us today, and allow us to custom-create your vision for your family today.