Real Estate 101

Open-Concept Floor Plan: History, Pros, and Cons

posted by Hannah October 3, 2018 0 comments

Anyone who’s anyone knows all the rage today is an open concept floor plan. You know, the ones with no walls separating your kitchen, dining, living area, or other spaces. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 84 percent of new single-family homes have fully or partially open layouts.

But before you go all “HGTV” on your walls a’la Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, or House Hunters-style, it’s important to first weigh the pros and cons of this setup.

History of the Open Concept

A flowing, connected interior floor plan is one that is currently beloved and ubiquitous. But it hasn’t always been this way.

In fact, early American homes dawned this “open” concept more out of necessity. Depending on the geo-location of your home, most would have one or two homes built around a central hearth to combat frigid temps. A sign of wealth back in this time was a home filled with numerous smaller, specialized rooms from parlors to maid’s quarters. As society changed, so did the floor plans. Full-time help became less and less common and home life became more laid back. As such, there was no need for the help to hide out in the kitchen or other rooms within the house.

However, it wasn’t until the post-war years when true open floor plans began to come into play. This plan, now beginning to include the kitchen, was a staple for hundreds of thousands of young families with children. This space allowed for parents to keep a closer eye on their children during meal preparation and cleanup.

These floor plan changes were also due to innovations in construction materials and methods. Steel structural beams, central heating systems, drywall, and cinderblock construction meant it was now easier to build rooms spanning long spaces.

Want a better visual of what constitutes an open floor concept? I recommend checking out a break down provided by our friends at the Spruce.com.

Pro: Making a Small Space Feel Larger

Clean Room

On the surface, this is one of the biggest challenges an open concept plan solves. Small spaces can make you feel much more closed in when they’re blocked off by walls isolating you from another space. This is especially relevant for those living in a small space where the costly addition of square footage isn’t an option. This includes those looking into apartment living, or even tearing down a wall in their home (pending local code compliance approval).

Con: A Large Space May Feel Too Big

On the other hand, the extra square footage could make a home feel a bit warehouse-like. It’s hard to achieve the feel of a warm, cozy home when there are no walls to secure you in. That feeling can be amplified when you have higher ceilings. Plus, if you are in an area prone to colder temperatures, heating can be costly and more difficult to achieve.

Pro: Being a Part of the Family

An open plan allows for better traffic flow. Without doors to open and close, people can move through the space unhindered. This makes it easier to watch kids. This is especially true if you’re the one in charge of family mealtime. There is a bit of isolation that comes with the person who has the culinary responsibility. You miss out on the conversations had in the living room, say, when the family is watching their favorite primetime television show. An open concept is an instant solution to this issue.

Con: Lack of Privacy

stress-free design

As stated earlier, open concepts are great for socializing. However, they make it hard to find peace and quiet for times you’d want to read or study. You’re kids noisy when they’re playing? Husband watching his television show a bit too loud? Too bad. Open concept makes privacy accommodations difficult. This also means less room to hide messes. This is about as visible as the times your family eats meals.

Pro: Entertaining Is More Social

An open layout makes this more sensible for hosts and guests alike. No matter how well planned out your party is, it seems like it always ends up in the kitchen. While your setting up your famed charcuterie board, or mixing your signature martini, your guests can wine and dine at your buffet while taking part in the conversation with you.

Con: Less Formal Living

At the same time, you might need a refuge to catch a breath from the party. Or for the more hoity toity affairs, guests might want to shah-shay from room to room while sipping a cocktail. Whether you want to get some cooking done without unwanted fingers dipped in the sauce, or make multiple grand entrances in that new shiny number, sometimes closed off spaces come at an advantage.

Pro: Layout Flexibility

Without partitioned walls, it’s easier to set up furnishings and accessories to your individual style. You can even make spaces multifunctional. Growing up, maybe you had a grandma who would only open up a formal dining up for special occasions. Or your family had a nicer parlor area with a grand piano that was highly-underutilized unless it was a special holiday. With an open floor plan space can serve as a family room, home office, play room — year-round, I might add.

Con: Higher Costs

Great rooms with higher ceilings can be energy drains. This is especially true with outer walls with large windows. Although this can be a pro for those who enjoy natural light, if you live in a hotter environment, you might want to think twice about this type of floor plan. While traditional plans allow you to heat and cool only specific rooms, an open floor plan must do the same for an entire space.

In Summary

Open floor plan living is considered a trend. It’s been building for years, and currently shows no sign of going anywhere. However, like all fashion, it will eventually go out of style. Which means an open plan could date your home.

In the meantime, truly consider if you want an open-concept home beyond the current trend of this style. For example, if you are a household full of entertainers, this is perfect for you. Or,if you are more inclined to lean toward viewing your home as a place for solitude and refuge, maybe a traditional is more up your alley. Either way, there’s not a wrong choice when it comes to selecting the type of floor plan right for you and your family.

Are you more of an open-concept, or traditional floor plan type of homeowner? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.

Interested in hearing about the different floor plan options that come with a new D.R. Horton home? Reach out today to one of our customer care specialists to learn more! 

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