Open floor plans have been the dominant trend in new construction since the 1990s, and they’ve been the goal of many remodeling projects in older homes as well. Turn on any home design television show and you’ll likely see prospective buyers talking about ripping down walls and joining the living room, dining room, and kitchen into one big “great room.”
However, COVID-19 brought about a lot of changes, including more time spent at home — living, working, schooling, etc. With a desire for more separation and privacy, REALTORS® have seen an increase in buyers shying away from the open concept and instead looking for a more traditional layout.
Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of these designs.
The open floor plan
An open floor plan refers to two or more common rooms (kitchen, living room, and/or dining room) joined together to form a much larger space.
Open concept floor plans are associated with a more modern design style. And because they often include higher ceilings and large windows, the open concept home can feel lighter, brighter, and much more spacious.
This layout has been long desired by families because it allows them to easily spend time together while working on different activities. Children can do homework at the dining room table while their parents cook dinner in the kitchen. A parent can wash dishes or put away groceries in the kitchen while easily keeping an eye on a toddler playing in the living room.
Open floor plans are also loved by those who entertain. For instance, while celebrating Thanksgiving, the host can easily work in the kitchen and still feel connected to guests who are chatting in the dining room or watching football in the living room.
However, there are some downsides to open concept living. While this layout can make a space feel larger, there is the potential for it to feel too large. Acheving a “warm and cozy” look and feel can be hard with a big open space. In addition, heating or cooling a large space can add up on your energy bills.
Sound an open floor plan can be problematic. The sounds of kitchen appliances and living room entertainment such as a television can clash.
REALTOR® Amanda LaVoie with Inspired Home Real Estate and Staging says another downside of the open concept floor plan is that the kitchen is always on display.
“We’re spending more time at home and our kitchens are getting a lot of use, which means they’re probably a bit messier than they were in the past,” she said. “Not only can it be embarrassing when guests come over, but it can also be distracting for homeowners who like things neat and tidy. For some people, it’s hard to relax in the living room when you can clearly see a stack of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter.”
And while togetherness is a benefit of the open layout, it also means there is a lack of privacy. This can be an issue in today’s environment with so many people working from home. If you’re working on the computer at the dining room table while your children are attending virtual school or watching TV, it can really be distracting.
The traditional layout
With the traditional layout, walls separate most of the common areas, including the kitchen, living room, and dining room. Sometimes doors are present between the rooms, and other times, there are just doorways with no doors. Either way, the rooms are distinct and separate and LaVoie says that separation is what is attractive to today’s buyers.
“Needs have changed, and buyers are looking for different ‘spaces’,” she said. “They need an office, maybe a workout area, a room for their kids to homeschool, or just a place to relax and read a book. Having multiple enclosed rooms not only provides privacy, but it also allows homeowners the ability to make each space fit their specific needs.”
A big concern with so many walls is that a home can feel smaller and visually “chopped up.” However, this can also have the effect of making rooms feel cozier and warmer. And separation can also be a benefit from a design standpoint. In an open concept home, the entire area needs to be cohesive, which can be harder to design. In a closed floor plan, each room can have an individual style, which gives you more options.
While buyers may want more walls than they did just a year ago, they don’t necessarily want all the walls. LaVoie says a “hybrid” approach is what a lot of buyers are looking for and something she says today’s builders and designers are starting to implement.
“There is a new demand for a layout that incorporates separate rooms and open areas, allowing flexibility for people to gather together, but also the ability to have privacy when needed,” she said. “For many, the ideal floor plan is a partial open concept approach where there is at least one room on the main floor with a closed door for an office, library, schoolroom, etc., and a large, open area for entertaining and daily living.”
Any of these layout options has its pros and cons, so it’s important to think through your lifestyle and needs when determining which route to go. A professional REALTOR® can help guide you through the process and you can find a list of experienced local agents by visiting the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at www.lansing-realestate.com.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Open Concept Vs. Traditional Layout: Which One is Better?