If you’re planning to purchase a new home, you’re facing many decisions including your new location, essentials to buy for your new house, and what style of home is best for you and your family. When it comes to interior design, there are two main types of layouts: an open floor plan and a closed floor plan. Each of these layouts offers different benefits that can provide the lifestyle and interior design characteristics you’re seeking. Open floor plans have been the dominant architectural trend since about 1990, but how can you decide if the style is right for you?
Your home’s layout affects more than the placement of rooms and where walls are located. The style of your home affects how the space feels and the light, mood, and sound that travels throughout your indoor space. Before you choose an interior design style, it’s a good idea to learn about what an open floor plan has to offer and the benefits and drawbacks this could include.
So… What Exactly Is an Open Floor Plan Anyway?
An open floor plan combines at least two traditional rooms by leaving out the interior partition walls. Often they join spaces such as the living room and dining room (or perhaps the kitchen) creating a large room where traffic flows throughout. This popular layout doesn’t mean that all the rooms in the house are in one open area. Instead, it typically excludes hallways and some walls and doors to make a more inviting space throughout.
Advantages of Open Floor Plans
Open floor plans may bring to mind one large space, like a city loft or the office space of a startup, but they can also include popular concepts like Great Rooms. Think versatility and multiple uses, and you’ve got the idea. Consider these benefits that come from a lack of walls.
1. An Abundance of Natural Light
With no walls to divide up the space and block the light from windows, open floor plans let sunlight travel and connect indoor spaces with outdoor ones. The result is bright rooms with direct views of the outdoors, an airy feel, and room for houseplants.
2. Easy entertaining
The best parties and gatherings are able to take advantage of the easy traffic flow and flexible layout of open space. Open-concept plans keep your guests from being crowded into corners and maintain the spacious feel of your home. Since the kitchen is often the anchor of an open floor design, it becomes easier to host while interacting with guests.
3. More space for your family
It’s often said that open floor plans make spaces feel bigger. While this is true, the absence of walls actually allows you to maximize your existing space. It allows for flexibility and the ability to create the maximum amount of floor space, making it easy to work with oversized furniture pieces and create separate interest areas.
4. Higher resale value
Open floor plans have become increasingly popular, and their resale value remains strong. When it’s time to sell, the desirability of this type of plan is a major selling point for potential buyers, who are looking for the same flexibility and roominess that attracted you.
5. Easier to Supervise Kids
When parents are busy cooking in the kitchen or setting the dining room table, an open floor plan makes it easy to supervise kids playing in the living room. The same supervision benefits exist when the kids are doing homework at the kitchen table and parents can make sure they stay on task from the living room.
6. Modern Living Style
Many modern homes feature open floor plans. Up-to-date decorating themes often reflect the popularity of these floor plans with techniques less likely to work in more enclosed areas. When you choose an open floor plan, you’re more likely to be able to recreate the modern living styles you like best.
Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans
Open-concept floor plans aren’t perfect for every homeowner. Carefully consider your needs for your new home and be aware of the potential drawbacks of an open floor plan.
1. Difficult to Conceal Clutter
Traditional closes floor plans confine furnishings and accessories to their designated spaces. An open floor plan means open visibility which can make it more difficult to conceal the clutter that can accompany a busy lifestyle. If you need separate areas to corral specific materials, toys, or furnishings, a closed floor plan may be easier to keep maintained.
2. Less Wall Space for Art and Decor
An open floor plan means there are fewer walls. While this means you can capitalize on the benefits offered by the large window in an adjoining room, loss of wall space means you’ll have less room to display framed art and photos.
3. Fewer Load-bearing walls
Walls do more than separate rooms. They have a strong foundation that helps support your home, which is especially beneficial for two-story home layouts. Construction of a home with an open floor plan requires the use of steel beams and other reinforcements to bear the load of a second floor or even just the roof.
4. Less privacy
Walls and doors block sights, sounds, and odors. Open concept homes that house large families can get very noisy and lack the privacy that everyone needs to feel comfortable. Since the kitchen in an open floor plan typically lacks boundaries, strong food travels can travel to other rooms.
5. Costlier to cool or heat
Containing heat or cool air in a single room is fairly easy as long as your home has adequate insulation. An open floor plan requires you to regulate temperatures in larger spaces which is typically more difficult. Furthermore, separated rooms can have their own temperature control which could finally end the family temperature debate.
6. Usually costlier to build
Partition walls act as a natural support for heavy roof beams or a second floor. Without partition walls, open concept homes depend on steel or laminated beams for support. These can be costly to purchase and install, driving up the overall price of the home.
Open Floor Plan Ideas For Your Inspiration
If this is your first time decorating an open floor plan, you may be a little intimidated by all the possibilities. If you can’t quite figure out how to set up individual areas within the wide-open space, don’t be intimidated. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips to help you get started and organize your decorating plans.
1. Think out your activity areas
Open floor plans are a great opportunity to prioritize parts of your life that are important. If you’ve been longing for a cozy area where you can curl up and read, or a spot for family game night, it’s time to create them. Likewise, if you see your great room as a place for kids to play as you all spend time together, remember to leave open areas for movement.
2. Invest in rugs
Rugs are a fantastic way to separate areas visually. They can be used to define seating areas, play areas, and separate open pathways from activity areas. Other than being comfy underfoot, rugs are an easy way to add color and pattern while helping ground and pull together your open floor plan’s style.
3. Utilize the light
With no walls to block it, sunlight can flow easily across rooms, creating a new look for traditional furnishings. Take advantage of the opportunity and consider updating design accessories with new colors or finishes. You might well be inspired to go lighter and brighter. Another great benefit to a sunnier space? This may be the year to start that plant collection!
4. Go symmetrical
Often, utilizing strong focal points can make it easier to define spaces. Take advantage of creating symmetry in your home by using a focal point like a fireplace to anchor a balanced arrangement of matching chairs or sofas. Focal points can have the same effect with art pieces that mirror each other from each side of the mantle. Just remember – although identical pieces can create a strong and finished look, features such as size, proportion, and color can also help keep things symmetrical.
5. Use paint to delineate areas
Using different colors of wall paint on feature walls, kitchen islands, fireplace surrounds, and behind dining tables can help break up the long stretches a bit. You might want to coordinate these shades with area rugs or other accessories to really set up areas for a strong contrast. By exploring the way that complementary shades and tones work together, you can use paint to define areas without creating jarring transitions.
Open Floor Plan FAQs
Are open floor plans a fad?
The idea of open floor plans has been around since the 1950s, so they’re hardly a fad. While these layouts change some from one decade to the next, the overall design is similar.
Do open floor plans add value to a home?
One of the most popular types of home remodel includes the removal of interior walls to create an open floor plan. For many prospective home buyers, investing a little more money in a home with open floor plans means saving money down the road on renovations. Since open floor plans are so popular, their value is increased.
Are open floor plans cheaper to build?
Because the lack of weight-bearing partition walls requires heavy-duty beams in their place, the materials costs involved in building open floor plan homes generally makes them more costly.
How can I create an entry with an open concept plan?
Set up the concept of an entry from the outside. Use a strong color element or texture that will carry through to your interior. Inside the front door, use a rug that echoes the color, add accessories, such as a divider or planters, that have the same texture, and use hanging lights to set the entry area apart.
How can I coordinate area rugs with an open plan?
By carrying certain similarities between area rugs you can create a beautifully flowing space. Search for a color that carries throughout your decor, or keep it pulled together with similar woven looks or patterns.
Big Picture Takeaway
Buying a new home is the ideal way to ensure that your home’s layout is optimized for your family’s activities and needs. By taking the time to really think about your lifestyle you can make an informed decision about whether an open floor plan will work for you. Open-concept plans with a versatile great room are often the way to combine all the best qualities of closed and open design concepts. With plenty of space, luminous rooms, a layout designed for entertaining, and superior resale value, they’re popular for a reason.