Against the Open Concept: Why You Might Want to Keep Those Walls



Let’s be honest. Most everyone dreams of having an open concept home and kitchen. There’s something enticing about having such an open living space. If you have small children, you can keep an eye them whether you’re working in the kitchen or watching TV in the living room. When you’re entertaining, you’ll still be able to engage with your guests while you’re cooking in the kitchen. But what about when your kids get older? And do you really want your guests to see you drop that pot of pasta?

It would seem that much of the praise, and desire, for the open concept floor plan and kitchen has come from HGTV, a real estate and home improvement network. Of course, there has to be some benefit from having an open concept kitchen, right? And there is. But it depends entirely on how you want to use your home and your space.

What Open Concept Is

An open concept floor plan is one that doesn’t have any obstructions. Walls are removed, and the living space is opened into one space. The kitchen is typically divided from the rest of the space by a large kitchen island. Other than that, the kitchen is fully exposed to the dining room and living room.

This can be a good use of space if you entertain a lot. You can play the gracious host while working away in the kitchen, and you won’t be left out of the conversation. You’ll be able to entertain while cooking. A lot of parents’ of young children also like the open concept floor plan. When they’re in the kitchen, they’ll be able to keep an eye on their kids in the living room, or watch the TV as well.

The Reality of Entertaining

While the idea of an open concept floor plan sounds like it might be rather amazing, the reality of it might be much different. Oftentimes, the benefit of having a closed off kitchen is greater than what you could have with an open concept kitchen. When you have an open concept, everything is open. Your kitchen is exposed to the rest of the house. While this might not bother you initially, think about what happens when you cook.

Cooking tends to be at least a little messy. You use pots and pans. They get dirty. Do you have the time to wash them immediately? Usually not. You’re serving dinner, and you don’t want the food to get cold, so the dishes wait. And they wait right out in the open where you guests can see them during the entire meal. While that might not bother some people, it could be an issue. The benefit of a closed off kitchen is that your guests don’t see any of that mess. You just surprise them with a delicious meal, and they don’t have to think about how you made it, or the mess you made while preparing it.

The Benefit of Walls

When you have young children that require near constant supervision, the thought of an open concept floor plan can seem amazing. You can work at the dining room table, or in the kitchen, and you’ll always be able to keep an eye on your little ones. But what happens when they get older and don’t require the constant supervision? You would probably like the benefit of a wall when they’re watching whatever children’s show has captured their fancy at full volume. And being able to work in a kitchen without the kids getting underfoot will probably make the meal preparations much less stressful.

There comes a time when walls have value. They serve to divide spaces and to help block sound. If you use your dining room as a home office, or a separate space in your kitchen, having to listen to the TV all the time can get incredibly distracting. You might want to think twice about removing those walls. Creating an open concept home might just be a short term fix, and then you’re stuck without those walls when you need them.

Don’t Rush to Decisions

When you’re considering whether you want an open concept home or not, take the time to make sure you reach the right decision. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully. You don’t want to get stuck with something that doesn’t work for you long term.

If there are certain living spaces where you would like to have open concept, just do those. You don’t have to include your kitchen. Or, you can always consider flexible spaces that allow you to close spaces off from each other when you need to. Either way, make sure that you really want an open concept floor plan before you commit to one.

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