by Admin Staff
on Monday, July 5th, 2021 at 10:37am.
Open concept floor plans make up the larger part of new residential house builds, and have been since the early to mid 1990s. This floor plan is the go-to design for home renovation projects in older homes that want to maximize space and appeal to new buyers. It allows for individuals and individual activities to co-exist with others; families can enjoy doing their own thing(s) in one area, while other family members could be doing a completely different activity in another area, but still be able to communicate effectively. In addition, the blending of a kitchen, living and dining room makes for a great party space - perfect for those who entertain as a part of their lifestyle. However, this floor plan isn't ideal for every person...and that's okay! Let's go over the pros and cons of open concept design, so you can see if it's a good fit for you.
It would be unwise to talk about open concept design without giving some background information on it. So, let's do that before getting into the thick of things. Understanding its history will allow you to have a clear picture of this subject. First off, an open floor plan is a layout within a home or dwelling where two or more common spaces have been joined together to form one space. This is accomplished by eliminating or omitting interior partition walls. Without these interior load bearing walls, heavy duty beams are installed to bear the weight of the floor above.
Prior to WWII, homes in cities had a basic floor plan. You can see this layout if you've ever been inside the older homes of Yorkton (mainly in central and North Yorkton neighbourhoods). The kitchen was located at the back of the house, since it was a service area; not used for socializing. Living and dining rooms were located near the front, to give guests/friends/extended family an aesthetically pleasing space to socialize. Gender roles were strict and separate, and lent themselves to how well this floor plan worked with those roles. After the war, this formal layout relaxed to accommodate the incredible increase of young families (also known as the baby boom), as well as working women. Floor plans now included the kitchen with the living and dining areas, so that Mom and Dad - equal working people - could keep an eye on the kids while cooking and cleaning up. In addition, the increase of all these families meant higher populations - cities had to plan lot space to fit everyone. Space inside the home was paramount. Gone were the days of libraries and studies - kids were doing homework at the kitchen table with mom close by, in case they needed help. Dad sat farther away in the half-partitioned living room, watching the news and probably smoking, but was still close enough to answer questions about politics and geography if needed. Perfect examples of this newer layout are the homes built in the late 60s - late 70s, found in the Southwest neighbourhood of Yorkton. By the 90s, the kitchen was the central hub of activity in a family home - both functionally and socially. Construction and renovation at this time closely resembled what we see most today: the complete integration of kitchen, dining and living rooms into one large space.
Greater traffic flow. Without walls or doors to hinder or congest travel, people can move freely from room to room.
Increased sightlines. Parents can still supervise their kids playing in the living room while cooking up something in the kitchen.
Room flexibility. Full or half walls don't limit what rooms can be transformed into as a family grows, leaves or changes tastes. Furnishings and accessories can be easily moved around, too.
Shared light. Light from other sides of the house can now penetrate one room, illuminating the entirety of it. Less of a cost during the day.
Improved Real Estate Value. Open floor plans are highly desirable to a large amount of people. For the reasons above, they lend well to peoples' lifestyle and lifestyle needs.
Increased space = increased heating and cooling. A large room simply requires more energy to heat up or cool down, especially if large windows or vaulted ceilings are present.
Acoustics. If more than one person is talking, or if music is playing, it becomes harder to hear. Sound can bounce around freely without walls to absorb noise.
Lack of privacy. If one person is studying or reading, and another is on the phone for example, this space loses its appeal immediately. It's just not practical for individual activities.
Higher construction cost. As noted above, heavy duty beams are needed to bear the weight of the floor above. They cost more to install, as opposed to having traditional load bearing interior walls.
There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Open concept design is no exception. If you find you don't like them, don't be ashamed! They probably just don't suit your needs. Liking a home with separated rooms doesn't mean you prefer the concept of division; that's a stigma, and you know where stigmas can be shoved! Needing to walk an extra sixteen steps to check on a loved one is not a big deal. If you love open concept design, don't feel bad about that either! Enjoy the trend, and enjoy your lifestyle. Like any part of the buying process, examine your lifestyle and how a potential home will accommodate your needs. For some, open concept is definitely the go-to. For others, walls help to organize life. Recognize the value for you and your loved ones.