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ABC's of Architectural Decor Design-O for Open Floor Plan

If you watch any HGTV show or read any design magazine, you have no doubt heard the term open floor plan. For those that may have been living under a rock,  an open floor plan consists of lack of distinct functional areas with walls and doors being eliminated. The kitchen, living room, dining room all become one huge space. 

In the early 20th century, closed off spaces became popular for many reasons, mostly having to do with practicality more than design preference. With some of the reasons for the closed off distinct space being eliminated, the open floor plan began to creep into residential design.  It began to build in popularity in the 1950's with designs by Frank Lloyd Wright. You could say it is at it's height of popularity today. But is it for you? 

There are some cons to consider when designing or picking an open floor plan for your next home or project.

Some of the cons include:

-It may seem too big. The challenge will come in being overwhelmed with the space. You have a giant great room to incorporate decor, color schemes, and lighting. 

-It can appear cold or not cozy, lacking the intimacy that distinct spaces provide. An enclosed living room with a fire place can seem quite comfy, provide a sense of security, and certainly has a natural warmth that might get lost in an open space.

-It can become one big mess with clutter spilling over from the kitchen or vice versa.  How do you hide the mess when entertaining in the living room? Not to mention smells like fish or bacon won't be contained to the kitchen. 

- It may create lack of privacy with noise pollution from the shared space as kids play or the TV is on. That can also make the space seem less formal.

To obtain an open concept in an existing home some other potential obstacles include whether you have load bearing walls in the right spots or whether the HVAC system is equipped to cool a big space.

Seems like there are plenty of cons to this open concept thing. 

Being that it is so popular, there must be some pros to this idea. What are the benefits of being open to an open floor plan?

-It is less formal. Wait, I thought that was a con. It depends on how you look at it. An open concept encourages socializing and communication. The family can really be all together accomplishing a number of things. Social gatherings become an opportunity to not only be cooking but entertaining and being entertained at the same time. No walls. No barriers. Literally or figuratively. 

-Multi-functional spaces contribute to maximizing the use of space in the home. No longer are there formal dinning or living rooms that never get used. 

-Without walls or doors, there is a flexibility in the layout of the space. You are not confined to what one room gives you. 

-With the right lighting solutions and window placement, lighting can be shared between spaces and natural light isn't contained in one room. That wall of windows now benefits multiple spaces. 

-An open floor plan improves traffic flow in the home itself. Think of it like an open four lane express way versus a two lane road that only goes one way. Hallways, doors, and walls are like stop lights and stop signs. Visually speaking an open space creates great site lines. Flow in movement and with the eyes. 

-Another con that becomes a pro is that while it may limit privacy, for a growing family with young kids there is no better way to be able to keep an eye on them? They are not closed off behind walls as they do homework or play video games. That kitchen island or peninsula serves double duty as their after school headquarters while you work in the kitchen. 

-It is a known fact that an open concept increases a home's real estate value. You may not be thinking of moving anytime soon, but if you do decide to sell, it will give you an advantage over a home with a traditional floor plan. 

 I myself love the open concept. It's not right for everyone and their circumstance or space. If you need some help determining if it is right for you or if you can open up an existing space, Rustiques would love to help you. Being open to a new concept may be just what you need to open a whole new world of possibilities. 

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