Tag Archives: open concept

An Argument Against the Open Floor Plan

Taking down the wall . . .

On every home makeover show, every real estate show, they talk about how everyone loves the open floor plan.  It’s the new black. Homeowners are forever busting through walls to open the kitchen to the family room and eliminating the dining room altogether.

There are two main reasons why the open floor plan is so so popular:

1.    It is great for entertaining.  People always end up in the kitchen anyway, right?    This allows the cook to be in the kitchen puttering around and interact with guests.

2.   It is great for parents of young children.   It allows the parent to be in the kitchen and still keep an eye on the little ones in the family room.   No more  baby in a playpen or high chair in the kitchen while you make dinner.

Do you see the theme?

STAY IN THE KITCHEN!

The open floor plan negates any reason to actually leave the kitchen.

But there is a third reason:  knocking out walls creates space, or at least an illusion of space within the same square footage.

When you think about it, the open  floor plan has been common in apartments for years. Walk into an apartment and you can see everything except  the bedroom.     It was supposed to be a move up  for an apartment dweller to buy a house and actually have separate rooms.     This new open floor plan  trend has essentially turned high-end palace homes into nothing but super-sized apartments, with a second floor.

Monica and Rachel’s Apartment in Friends

For those of you who don’t have the open floor plan,  before you take out all the walls in your house, and before you feel badly because you have a wall that you can’t take down, consider this:

1.  Your children won’t be toddlers forever.

Children tend to grow. And there will come a time where you don’t want to and don’t have to watch every move they make.

2.  Yes, you can see your toddlers, but your toddlers can see you, too.

My husband and I used to go into the laundry room to shove a snack into our faces so that the babies wouldn’t see and start wailing for some.  Sometimes, I’d drop down behind the island like I’d heard sudden gunfire in order to have a cookie.

3.  You can see your school-age, tween and teen kids, but they can see you, too.

With an open floor plan, you can  forget coming down to sneak a snack over the counter in your jammies late at night, or reading the paper at the kitchen counter/table in the morning before your shower. There’s nothing like hearing,   “Hi. Mrs.  Peterson!”  when you’re bra-less in a  vintage tee and boxers drinking coffee in your kitchen.   And if you dare talk on the phone while cooking or cleaning, you will be shushed by someone — or perhaps worse, a child  will be listening in on every word.    And it is a truism, a simple fact of life, that as kids grow, parents spend a fair amount of time hiding from them.    The open floor plan is antithetical to the natural course of child-rearing in this respect.

4.  Your kitchen must always be spotless . . .

There’s no door to close.  When unexpected guests pop in — yours or your children’s — and you haven’t unloaded and reloaded your dishwasher — everyone can see it.  Suddenly you’re a slob.  The rest of your house could be spotless, but under these floor plans, no one ever sees the rest of your house.

5.   Your family (TV)  room includes a kitchen– a  noisy, smelly kitchen.

Imagine sitting down in a darkened room, ready to watch a great emotional or talky movie and — oh hello, there’s your kid or spouse or whatever, in the kitchen, talking on the phone, repeatedly opening the fridge, making bacon, arguing with someone. Go ahead and click pause, because you can’t hear whatever George Clooney is saying, not that you need to . . . . but I  digress. Your quiet moment has been ruined.

6. Children’s Programming/Teen programming/Sports/News — Anything you don’t want to watch at any given time.

Your little kid is watching Dora. Again, and again, and again. You can’t get away from it.  iCarly I get it, but I’ve had enough.  People are enjoying the big game, snacking, yelling at the screen, having a good old time.  You are wiping the counter after having loaded the dishwasher and setting out food for them. Worse, you can’t even mutter to yourself or roll your eyes at the unfairness of it all, because you are on display.

Essentially, the open floor plan allows you to be in the kitchen and watch — other people watch TV.   Humph.

7.  “Oh my gosh I dropped the chicken!”

In a perfect world, no one would know.  Open floor plan?  Well, it’ll be tweeted in minutes.

8.  When entertaining, sometimes you need a minute.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Guests in the next room are expecting dinner; Mary and Rhoda panic in the kitchen because they have no food.

Your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, your boss is bored, your husband/wife is saying something he/she shouldn’t, you need yet another drink, you just said something really, really stupid.  With an open floor plan, THERE’S NO PLACE TO GO!!!    I love all the classic  TV shows where people could say, “Can I see you in the kitchen”  or “I’m going to check on the food,”  followed quickly by, “I’ll help you.”    (This is all code for “We need to talk.” )  With an open floor plan I guess you have to hide in the bathroom, and that’s just plain icky.

How many times did characters in Frasier run off to the kitchen to plot against some misunderstanding happening in the living room?

One big room is fine, it can even be intimate when you are alone or coupled up.  But once there are people of different ages,  interests and responsibilities, well let’s just say that all this open living can be  downright oppressive.

I speak from experience.

I knocked out a kitchen wall in my  old house and built a family room addition. Instead of looking out  my  kitchen window and seeing  trees, I created a view of  my family room.  I had young children at the time.  I fell for the “I can be in the kitchen and see the kids”   trap.  Well, the children grew, the husband left, and I  downsized  to a much smaller  fixer-upper  home.

When it was time to do the kitchen, the contractor asked,

“You gonna knock out this wall?”

I said, “No.  I want my wall.   I need my wall.”

Truth is, I need some division in my life.

Sometimes I  watch a little TV  or listen to music while cleaning or cooking.  Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table on my laptop or  the phone while my kids are in the family room watching something that literally makes me ill.  I’ve even been known to channel my inner Beyoncé and dance to my heart’s content in my kitchen. With my wall intact, I can be unseen but close by, and still opt in or out of  the children’s  entertainment at will.

It’s the little things . . .  Sometimes a wall  is a good little thing.

Just Me With . . . a divided floor plan and a bit of,  well  — if not sanity —  at least a bit of privacy.

See also:

My Refrigerator Broke. Do I Really New A Fancy New Stainless Steel New One?

Double Sinks in The Master Bath — Must We Have Them?  Really? 

Piss, Puke, and Porn — my new old house.

A Rat In My House

Suck This! Mr. Dyson

Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell? 

My Panty Drawer, Your Panty Drawer — My Adventures in Home Staging and Carpet Installation

How to Get Rid of That Hoarder’s Smell

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