First time home buyers don’t have to watch many episodes of Property Brothers or any other HGTV hit to understand that these days an open floor plan is all the rage. Statistics back up this claim, with a 2015 survey from the National Association of Home Builders indicating that 70 percent of recent and prospective home buyers prefer a kitchen-family room arrangement that is at least partially open.
There’s nothing wrong with following a trend if you understand the benefits and drawbacks of jumping on the bandwagon. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest pros and cons of an open floor plan.
COME AND TALK TO ME
Imagine a family of four: one parent cooks dinner at the stovetop; one parent reads the newspaper on the couch; the kids do their homework at the dinner table. Activities that might otherwise be solitary efforts can transform into quality time spent in the company of loved ones. No yelling down a hall, no opening and closing doors – communication becomes so much easier when everyone has a chance to occupy the same large space. An open floor plan can actually bring a family closer.
This doesn’t even account for entertainment benefits. We’ve all been to a party where everyone cramps into the kitchen, but when the kitchen, living room, and dining room all flow from one space into another, you and your guests get to socialize in comfort.
YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE
Say goodbye to dark interior spaces when natural light flows from one room to the next in a home with an open floor plan. Removing walls and adding light can also do wonders when it comes to perception. Converting a home to an open floor plan often increases the sense of size without adding to the square footage. It can suddenly seem like you’ve moved into a bigger home while avoiding the extra property taxes that would accompany an actual addition.
MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ‘ROUND
It’s true that trends come and go, but the open floor plan has been gaining steam since the popular commercialization of air conditioning following WWII. The same NAHB survey that identified the overwhelming preference for an open floor plan, also noted that builders are not keeping pace with demand. If you are building a house, consider that an open floor plan could make your property more profitable when you put it on the market.
THE HEAT IS ON
Large spaces make climate control much more expensive and difficult to control. This becomes a particularly difficult problem if your kitchen is open, as the heat from your oven or stove might uncomfortably warm your adjoining living areas when you want to relax at a cooler temperature.
Speaking of an open kitchen: you may run the risk of having your couch smell like salmon and broccoli. It will be nearly impossible to contain the smells and residues of your cooking. Beyond this potentially minor inconvenience, it’s worth considering that a kitchen is often one of the messiest and most cluttered areas of a house. With an open concept, there is nowhere to hide. Your guests will truly get a warts-and-all view of your home. If you have the stamina to keep your kitchen impeccably tidied, this might work for you. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself scrambling to clean every time you invite people into your home.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
Messes come and go but there will always be noise in a home. The larger and more connected your spaces are, the more sound you will have to contend with. One person might be trying to watch the morning news, and another is putting things in the blender and listening to the radio, while someone else is talking on their phone and the sounds can quickly combine into an excruciating roar. These problems are minimized in a design that separates living spaces.
There are many factors that merit consideration when choosing a home to buy or build, and each one has to be carefully weighed against you and your family’s specific needs. What’s most important is to make sure you select a home that suits your lifestyle, rather than fitting in with a current trend. When you’re ready to open up a discussion about your real estate needs, contact Jessica and Sarah to find the home that fits you.