A long-standing trend in home design has been the idea of an open floor plan – where rooms aren’t separated by walls but instead unified into one large space. This continues to be one of the most popular requests among home buyers, but like any trend the open concept is undergoing some transformation.
Part of the appeal is that the open concept allows people to spend more time together and signals a casual, informal lifestyle. Family members can be together while performing different tasks, yet sharing the same space. Most open floor plan designs combine the kitchen, dining and living space into what’s often called a great room. Someone can be at the kitchen island with an IPad, another watching TV, someone cooking and another doing homework – all within eyesight of each other. If you don’t want a completely open floor plan, kitchens opening onto the family room can accomplish many of the same goals.
If you have limited space, an open floor plan is also a creative way to make a home feel larger. Walls, hallways and doorways can rob valuable space and give more of compartmentalized feel. Taking them out makes more use of the footprint.
For those who like to entertain, open floor plans are a great way for people to mingle and not be separated into different groups and smaller gathering spaces. It also allows the host to be part of the festivities while preparing things in the kitchen.
Take out the Noise
The reality is when rooms with multiple functions spill into each other, the noise level can be out of control. You can avoid some common pitfalls while reaping the benefits with a few simple changes. Try incorporating sliding pocket doors to split off a noisy play room or to let someone have privacy for homework or a phone call. This will give your open floor plan more flexibility. Consider designing a convertible space – there may be times when you’ll need to slide those doors back into the wall and enlarge the room. This idea is also ideal for doors that open to the outdoors. In warmer weather, opening a space to the outdoors will make a dramatic difference in the size and feel of your home.
Bring in the Charm
To maintain character you can incorporate columns or molding and add area rugs to define a space. This allows a room to flow and function easily while also providing intimacy and charm so it doesn’t feel like a giant ballroom.
Keep out the Clutter
Lots of people doing lots of different things in one area equals a lot of stuff! When designing an open floor plan make sure there is plenty of built-in storage that blends in with the architecture. Purchasing furniture that serves dual purposes, like storage benches or coffee tables with hidden storage compartments, can provide quick cleanups for toys, blankets, or other items.
Another possibility is to have a butler’s pantry right off the kitchen to store your items from the latest Costco run and bulky appliances that aren’t used every day.
By combining cabinetry, shelving and a cleanup area, the open kitchen looks more organized and less cluttered. Built-in storage also provides a place to store all the power cords and chargers required to keep gadgets functioning properly.