The Open Floor Plan Decision

Open floor plans are growing popularity and here we'll discuss the pros and cons.

If you’re considering taking down some walls to open up your home’s living space, you’ve probably realized by now that there are a number of options. The most popular arrangement, by far, is to create one big great room that encompasses the kitchen, dining room, and living room. But options can range from simply connecting the cooking and living areas, all the way to creating a loft-like arrangement that includes all of the living spaces plus the bedroom and entryway. Having one big open space vs. distinct, walled-off areas has benefits and drawbacks. Here we take a look at some of the pluses and minuses of opening up your space.


Pros of the Open Layout

Entertaining – This is a big draw for those with frequent guests. No one wants to be cloistered away in the kitchen cooking a big meal while everyone else socializes in the next room. Combining the kitchen and living room, either by way of no wall, or a half wall or bar separator, allows the hosts to interact with guests while being productive at the same time. Plus, you might even be able to get them to help with the food prep when they realize they’re sitting there doing nothing while you do all the work!


Modern kitchen room interior in white tones with hardwood floor


Lighting – If open floor plans are the main topic of home design conversation these days, lighting is definitely the second most popular subject. Natural light has become more and more desirable as energy costs rise and people look to ways they can avoid depleting the earth’s natural resources. Skylights and sun tubes, doorwalls, and a minimum of obstructions within the home’s design all contribute to allowing sunlight to provide illumination, making the open floorplan a huge boom for those seeking to adhere to an eco-friendly philosophy.


Open plan house interior with hardwood floor staircase to downstairs view of family area and vaulted ceiling with skylights


Child Supervision

We’ve all been there – you go into the playroom only to find that your precious angels have used the markers to create a mural on your white walls. Or, they’ve decided that making the dog a customer of their play beauty salon was too much fun to resist. Having one big living area allows you to watch over the little darlings’ activities while you cook dinner or clean. If you set up your desk in the great room or kitchen, you can even work while supervising their antics (and saving Rover from much embarrassment on his next walk). This benefit of course extends to mischievous teens who will be forced to sit out in the open when their crush comes over to watch a movie or they want to sit at the common computer and surf the web.


House interior with Open floor plan


Cons of an Open Floor plan

Entertaining – You may be surprised to find this aspect on both lists, however for the neat freak, an open kitchen can be your worst nightmare. Guests will be able to talk to you while you prep the meal, but they’ll also be able to see your dirty dishes and all the other messes that are created when you’re acting as home gourmet. If the thought of your company being able to see the chaos that resulted from the preparing of the delicious five-course meal they’re about to enjoy makes you nervous, then you may want to consider keeping the kitchen enclosed.


Kitchen and dining room interior with hardwood floor. Open floor plan


Your housekeeping exposed – On the other hand, if you’re the utter antithesis of a neat freak, combining all of your living areas into one may result in the spread of the clutter throughout the whole space. Gone will be the days of quickly (and frantically) doing a sweep of one room when last-minute guests pop in. Whatever happens in your home as far as keeping it presentable will be the reality for all of the living spaces.


Open floor plan. Cozy living room interior with fireplace and hardwood floor


Sound travels – If dad likes to watch evening TV in the den and junior prefers to listen to some tunes in the kitchen as he does the dishes, you might have an issue. Noisy entertainment sources will have to be agreed upon, and loud screaming children will cast their sound effects far and wide.


Open floor plan. Living room kithen and dining area with hardwood floor


You lose dedicated rooms – While you can certainly cordon off specific areas of the space for certain uses via strategic furniture placement, privacy virtually disappears and work that requires total silence may be a challenge (although headphones can help defray this inconvenience to some extent).


Open floor plan family room with fireplace and hardwood floor


Artwork loses its home – More walls mean more space to hang those beloved masterpieces. If you’re a connoisseur of fine art, or simply enjoy hanging as many family photos as possible, an open floorplan will require that you find an alternative means of display.


House interior. Open floor plan. View of living room with dining table set and open door to walkout deck


Choosing a layout for your home is a big decision. Each individual family has its own needs and wants, and creating an enjoyable, functional space that’s also aesthetically pleasing can be a challenge. Use these tips to assess your own situation and find out exactly which floor plan is right for you.


Images used with permission, courtesy of and

Next: Refinishing Your Hardwood Floor – The Prep