December 30, 2019

Not everyone’s a fan of the open floor plan

For the last couple of decades, the “open floor plan” has been the go-to for mainstream new home construction.

Anyone who has been home shopping knows the open floor plan: The kitchen and dining room and family room are in a wide-open space with no or little separation. The idea is supposed to maximize family togetherness and make social gatherings even more social.

Increasingly, homeowners say the open floor plan is no longer the life of the party.

The open floor plan is supposed to be the ideal of hospitality - but try telling that to the busy host who keeps having dinner prep interrupted by the prying eyes of the so-called experts on all matters culinary.

It’s great when you are all in there gabbing and working together, but more often, the unsolicited help is no help at all. Having a kitchen that's easily accessible to guests can be downright intrusive.

The closed plan offers aural, olfactory and spatial privacy. Just stay out of the kitchen, please!

And what about the painfully shy guest having trouble fitting in? With an open floor plan, they stand out like a sore thumb in a scary sea of people. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little space to get away.

Differentiated floor plans allow you to throw smaller parties in different rooms for people with different interests, and filter to other areas when the current one becomes tiresome.

Maybe all this forced togetherness explains the even more recent rise of “man caves” and “she sheds”- closed spaces that fully reject the "open" concept.

Guess why they're so popular? They're common rooms with walls and doors! Like the parlors, living rooms and family rooms of yesteryear, they bring people together more naturally and comfortably.

The growing sentiment for a return to walls increases as home buyers age. In a National Association of Home Builders’ survey, 37% of Baby Boomers say they prefer the open concept, while 40% of Generation X buyers and 43% of millennials do. Just 29% of seniors older than boomers prefer open floor plans.