This may be an unpopular opinion, but I hate the open concept floor plans that houses and apartments seemingly everywhere have embraced wholeheartedly. My husband and I have been looking at houses online for months now in preparation for eventually buying a house. I know this is a terrible time to be in the market because it’s 100% a seller’s market. It’s tough.
We’ve been looking at houses for years now, doing what I like to think of as window shopping for houses. We’d go to new construction neighborhoods and look around, we went to open houses for neighborhoods we thought looked nice, and we’ve looked through hundreds of listings on Zillow or other sites.
One thing I’ve learned about myself through this process is that I absolutely hate open concept floor plans.
This is unfortunate because, as I’ve already mentioned, it seems like every single new build is open concept. Every big builder in the area seems to have 90-95% of their plans featuring open concept living spaces.
I’ve had a few people ask me why I don’t like open concept floor plans, and I’m realizing it’s a little unusual for someone in my particular stage in life. I’ve got two young children and stay home with them right now. They’re young enough to still be getting into anything and everything, and need decent supervision when they’re enjoying playtime. So to a lot of my friends, the idea of not wanting all that open living space is counterintuitive.
So I thought I’d go through a couple reasons I’ve seen friends say they like open concept and compare those to why I don’t like it.
The biggest reason I’ve seen for families to love open concept living space is that it gives them a great line of sight to their children’s activities. That’s a totally fair reason in my opinion. You can look across the kitchen counters or islands and see if your kids are playing nice with each other. You can call them out when they start getting into things they shouldn’t. It’s just easier to supervise when you have a line of sight while you’re doing chores or fixing breakfast.
I totally get that, and I agree that sometimes it’s nice to be able to glance over and see what the kids are up to. That said, open concept living spaces don’t just create a great line of sight, they also create lots of open space to fill up with noise. As a person who seriously craves quiet in my life, having an open concept living space would drive me batty between the regular sounds of cooking or cleaning and my children being loud or watching a kids’ TV show. The constant noise would wear on me until I’m exhausted and unable to concentrate on anything else, and I wouldn’t be able to manage my children or the work I need to accomplish.
Another big reason I’ve seen that people prefer open concept is because it makes entertaining nicer for the hostess. If you’ve ever hosted a big family dinner, a holiday gathering, or even a small group of friends over for a meal, you know that as the hostess you are the one spending the least amount of time with the people you’ve invited over. You might be slaving over an intricate meal in the kitchen for a few hours while your guests are mingling elsewhere with the rest of your family. In an open concept living space, however, that is mitigated by having everyone relaxing together in the same area as you prepare food. For a lot of people, that ability to spend more time enjoying one another even while working is a great benefit of open concept.
In our current home, the kitchen and living room are only divided by a partial wall and are fairly open in nature. When I have friends over, they generally go downstairs to the den where most of our entertaining and living happens, with the exception of my best friend who will come sit at my kitchen table while I work. In all honesty, I don’t really mind being the one who spends time in the kitchen cooking because it’s something I enjoy doing for others.
The last big reason I’ve seen people really enjoy open floor plans is because they allow for more multi-functional use of common areas. The dining room area can function both as a place to eat meals and a place to work on homework. The living room area can be a place to relax and watch TV and a spot for the kids to set up toys and play for hours at a time. It can be a great gathering spot for many different uses.
Unfortunately that multi-functional use leads to clutter and lots of it. Certainly there are ways to cut down on that, but I’m a little old-fashioned I suppose and would just prefer certain areas of the house to contain things relating to them. I’d like my kids’ toys to stay in their rooms or in a designated bonus room type of space where I won’t trip over Hotwheels and LEGOs that make their way to the kitchen space. I would love to have some kind of designated office space or even just desks in bedrooms for my kids to work on homework so I’m not constantly collecting papers from the dining room table before being able to set up dinner.
As I’m going on this home buying journey, I realize I’ll have to compromise on a lot of my preferences, and I’ve already admitted to myself that open concept may be one of those things since it’s so hard to find anything that doesn’t follow this trend. Thankfully my husband and I have both agreed that we may not be buying our “forever home” when we finally put down money on a house. So I can prepare myself to compromise on what we buy because it won’t necessarily be our house for life.