In the early 2000's, a more casual style of living started to emerge. People were moving away from the formal dining rooms and sitting rooms of their parents’ and grandparents’ homes to an open concept floor plan which combined these spaces. Large kitchen islands came into favor and people wanted to be able to fix dinner while watching their favorite show or while keeping an eye on the kiddos playing in the family room.
In many situations, this open concept is still desirable (many of our clients choose it for their remodel projects). There are some downsides, however, and many became more apparent during the pandemic of 2020-2022. During this time, working and even schooling from home became the norm. It became harder to tune out distractions and maintain focus for many people who didn't have a dedicated work or study space located away from the open concept living room.
All aspects of life blurred together, and this time it didn’t happen in a good way. While open concept floor plans have their advantages, they have a few notable drawbacks, as well.
Problem 1: Lacking in Privacy
Privacy and sound insulation can quickly become an issue without walls to separate spaces. This can be a problem if you have one child practicing a musical instrument while another needs to study. You especially may not enjoy the open concept layout if you have a higher sensitivity to sound or are easily distracted.
Problem 2: Significantly More Costly
For an older style home with separated rooms, taking down load bearing walls will add a significant expense to the remodeling budget. Not only do you have to purchase all new materials for your kitchen, including cabinets, countertops, appliances, and backsplash, but now you need a contractor and an engineer as well.
These renovations are not only costly, but also will add to the length of time of the project. There are a lot of unknowns when opening up a wall-- there could be hidden electrical wiring, HVAC equipment, or mold, just to name a few.
Problem 3: More Challenging to Maintain
If your open concept living room is a shared space, it can become difficult to contain the mess. This can be especially problematic if your household has children, teens or pets. Their toys and items can end up everywhere, and the space could look constantly cluttered and disorganized. Contrary to this, a separate play room or study room would better contain the clutter and chaos.
Having a living room that’s "ready for company" like your parents or grandparents did suddenly makes sense again.
Making an Informed Decision
It is important to consider your own personal preferences and your family’s lifestyle before making a decision on open versus closed concept living. It may be helpful to talk to friends who have embraced each style and ask them why they did so. Understanding what the pros and cons have been for them may help you decide which style of living is best for your family.
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