Purchasing a new home comes with so many (delightful!) decisions. Once you’ve selected a location, you’re soon comparing floor plans and layouts – and a choice between open-concept or closed designs. If you’re not sure what will be the best fit for your family, it’s helpful to understand what each can offer.
Other than the obvious differences, each type will have features that may or may not work best with your lifestyle. We’ll take a look at these elements and highlight their pros and cons. You may find that an open floor plan is perfect for you!
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.
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. Some of the benefits of the 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 the sunlight in. 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 an open space. Open-concept plans keep your guests from being crowded into corners and maintain the spacious feel of your home. As a bonus, many open plans are anchored by the kitchen area, which makes hosting and interacting with guests much easier.
3. More space for your family
Without walls to divide up the square footage, an open-concept floor plan not only feels larger- it allows for flexibility and the ability to create the maximum amount of floor space. It’s easy to work with oversized furniture pieces, create room to play, or to 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.
Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans
Open-concept floor plans aren’t perfect for every homeowner. It’s good to be honest about your needs for your new home and to be aware of what the more traditional layout of a closed floor plan can offer.
1. Concealing clutter
If you need to keep the clutter that can accompany a busy lifestyle contained to one area, separate rooms give the option of tucking it away behind closed doors. If you need an area for activities that have a lot of materials, it could be better to reserve one room that can be shut off from the rest of the house.
2. Missing your familiar home décor
More rooms mean more walls – and more display space for your framed art and photos. If you’re accustomed to decorating with an abundance of vertical display space, you may find the lack of walls to be limiting.
3. Load-bearing walls
Closed floor plans that use load-bearing walls in their construction provide some positive benefits, such as better noise reduction between rooms. They also provide support for two-story home layouts.
4. Less privacy
Without walls and doors to close areas off, block views, and contain sound, an open-concept floor plan can lack the privacy some families need. If you spend a lot of time together, individual rooms can be desirable.
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 haven’t trained your eye in 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.
Don’t be afraid to work up a wish list before you start placing furniture. If you plan ahead now, you’ll save yourself from moving heavy couches and tables later.
2. Invest in rugs
Once you’ve worked out the general placement of your activity areas, rugs are a fantastic way to separate them visually. Use them to help place tables and line up chairs and couches, too.
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
Open floor plans have beautiful benefits, when it comes to the lighting in your home. With no walls blocking it, sunlight can flow across rooms, creating a whole new look for your old 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
A classic interior design element can be incredibly helpful in open spaces. If you have a strong focal point, such as a fireplace, use it to anchor a balanced arrangement of two sofas, an oversized sofa and a dining table of equal visual weight, or art that mirrors each other from either side of the mantel.
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.
While you’re shopping for paint, explore complementary shades, with tones that are in the same general range. Or, take in some favorite art and match a couple of colors for a big pop of color.
Answering Your Floor Plan FAQs
- Are open floor plans a fad? The idea of open floor plans has been around longer than you think – they’ve been showing up since the 1950s. Our less-formal, more varied lifestyles and needs have kept them popular through the decades.
- Do open floor plans add value to a home? This style of floor plan has become so popular, they add value to homes. With many people spending additional time and money to remodel houses into a more open plan, the savings are already built-in.
- 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? As long as you keep a thread of similarity in your area rugs, you’ll 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. When you’re beginning your exciting journey, taking the time to really think about your lifestyle can help you choose a floor plan that makes living in your new space a joy. 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 that’s a natural for entertaining, and superior resale value, they’re popular for a reason.