The open kitchen floor plan also known as the Great Room is the current rage in home renovation.
But before you rush to the bank for a home improvement loan, is this really what you want?
The design is highly promoted as if the homeowner does not have enough expenses to deal with!
We all realize times are difficult and building and construction has slowed down. The best way to put builders back to work is to create a new style and market it so every homeowner will feel like they can’t live without it.
The homeowner will be part of the “up-and-coming” in home fashion. This flaunts success to the neighbors who will soon do the same (not realizing the open kitchen floor plan is how apartments are designed).
This is great for the economy. It provides work for builders and architects and increases sales for home improvement stores and manufacturers. Unfortunately this expense results in additional debt for the homeowner and maybe postponement of that vacation they were planning.
It is said that the open kitchen floor plan is probably the single largest and most widely embraced home design change over the past 50 years.
True there are some nice benefits of having an open floor plan but let’s stop and realize the reasons for keeping the kitchen a kitchen.
Articles Listing the Pros and Cons for the Open Kitchen Floor Plan
As you will read they make some very good points people may not think about when caught up in the excitement of a remodeling mentality and under pressure from a realtor.
Read this article on the reality of the pro’s and con’s of the open kitchen.
Read another article reminding us of the good reasons for keeping rooms separate.
The author makes realistic statements against open floor plans – something homeowners do not hear from those with a financial interest.
Decorating Your House with the Open Kitchen Floor Plan (Reason 9)
This is reason #9. Reason 1-8 were listed in the link above. One point not mentioned is the matter of decorating. There is a world of color out there! There are so many styles of decorating. Didn’t you ever feel you can never have enough rooms in your house to experience all the styles you want.
A kitchen, family room, and living room all have different uses and different personalities. You can decorate these rooms to reflect that.
Do you have a hard time choosing paint colors because you like so many colors? Well with the traditional floor plan you can get what you like.
Choose a different color for each rooms and decorate them differently.
The rooms have a personality and you have a personality (maybe multiple). Decorate them to show that.
With the open kitchen floor plan you have one color, one style, one personality. Do you really want your home to represent you in this way?
Must we bring what we read about in the news and trends in society today into our homes? Must all races and nationalities be combined into one monocultured group?
Historic Integrity (Reason 10)
If your house is older or historic, it was not designed with an open floor plan. The open kitchen floor plan will conflict with the style of a vintage house.
Remember when someone approaches your house, the exterior sets up their mind for the experience. Upon entering a house and seeing an open floor plan – pretty as it may be, it will conflict with their inner senses expectations.
The Open Kitchen Floor Plan Design is Only a Fad! (Reason 11)
Altering your old house for this fad is altering history and why you purchased a vintage house in the first place. You can easily build a new Colonial or Victorian house with an open floor plan instead of taking a vintage house and changing it into something it was not meant to be.
At the same time hiring an architect or contractor to do the job may result in the loss of the architectural integrity of your home. Most professionals trained today are accustomed to McMansion design . Be prepared for your traditional home to reflect that.
As John Ruskin said:
“. . . Old buildings are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead still have their right in them: That which they labored for . . . we have no right to obliterate.” “What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth, and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death . . .”
Look back in time at your kitchen. Look at the money you spent on short lived remodeling fads. Cabinet changes are cheap – moving walls are not.
My prediction is in ten years these open floor plans will be converted back to what they were originally. Lots of money spent on a needless fad. Lots of other monetary sacrifices in life to afford this fad.
I hope I was able to save you some money. Spend that savings on restoring your house or send it to me.
Bottom line is if you want the look and feel of an apartment then just live in an apartment.
You Create an Unhealthy Environment (Reason 12)
Cooking actually creates a hazardous environment especially to many new and remodeled homes. The large space of an open kitchen allows increased air circulation into other rooms. Such a large area prevents a kitchen exhaust fan from removing those impurities. A stronger kitchen fan will help but then creates other problems. Read more about today’s Toxic Open Kitchens.
The Case For Rooms – Death to the Open Floor Plan – an very good article by Kate Wagner
We would love to hear your thoughts on this, for or against.
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John Stahl says
Not sure I agree with this article. Home owners are not as trendy as you might think. The open kitchen plan reflects a trend in family dynamics over the past 50 years.
I am not a real estate expert however I would guess it adds to the resale value even in older homes.
Only if the buyer has “bought into” the open concept. If they have, many will soon regret it looking around at the expanse of white. I don’t know what ” family dynamic” would dictate tearing down walls.
I’m not sure what dynamics John is referring to, but I do agree. From my perspective, I would say there two primary changes that make an open kitchen design more compatible with today’s culture: 1) a more casual approach to entertaining and 2) women moving into the 9-5 workforce. With today’s more casual approach to entertaining, guests are invited into the kitchen to sit around the island and chat or even help with food preparation. The absence of walls also makes it easier for the cook(s) to converse with guests in another room while preparing food. Women being a vital part of the workforce has made the concept of having meals prepared and ready at the end of the husband’s workday impractical. The concept of having a separate area set aside for “women’s work” has also become less compatible with today’s culture. Instead, many family meals are prepared together in the kitchen with space for many people to move around, while family members catch up and reconnect after a long, busy day at work or school. I think the general ramping up of “busy-ness” in modern culture is connected to both of these reasons.
I say this as the owner of a beautiful vintage house that I would never change, but I recognize that its architecture was designed for an entirely different way of life than ours.
@ John and Pete: This is most likely false. Like exterior architecture, those not in charge of actually designing let alone financing it have no say. There probably isn’t a survey dating back to the 1960s where it asked homeowners their opinions on what kitchen-dining-living room layout would best suit their needs as a family. The open floor concept, like McMansions, were things simply given to the consumer without asking if they really wanted it. And, like good consumers, they really didn’t question it and with this passive acceptance thought they indeed wanted it.
@ Pete: There’s great irony to your post. Even with open floor plans, there are still housewives who do all, if not most of the cooking, so your analysis just doesn’t hold up. After all, open floor plans are said to be great for home entertainment. Even with the advent of women joining the workforce, I still don’t see that as a compelling enough reason to do away with dining room and kitchen partitions. If anything it would force the men to pitch in and make dinner a couple of times a week (or just increase take-out orders). Plus, the whole “catching up” at dinner adds to the irony given that many families these days don’t eat dinner together with kids, and adults, stuck on their phones or watching tv as they eat.
Just Me With . . . says
Thanks for the link.
You’ve raised a point here that has been gnawing at me. And I think I finally get it, the marketing plan, that is. I recently stopped watching HGTV and DIY networks completely because all the shows say the same thing and feature home owners, contractors and home buyers who want the same thing — in this case the Open Floor Plan — because it’s popular, spacious, and “everybody wants it” these days. Circular reasoning. The programs do not show any alternative wants, needs, or designs, or even home owners who could take or leave the feature. They also don’t show the many families who make do without it. They only show home owners who must have it. It is marketed as an objective universally craved amenity that, if it is absent, seriously devalues any property –almost making it unsellable — the way a property on a major highway or near a sewage plant or in a high crime area might be hard sell and the sellers have to price accordingly. So whether or not everybody likes the Open Floor Plan is actually irrelevant to the marketing, which bombards us with the testimonials that Open Floor Plans are where it’s at right now. It is the most requested feature, we are told. And I believe that’s true. I just think some of its popularity is caused by successful marketing to inexperienced buyers and fearful sellers. The marketing suggests to buyers that without an Open Floor Plan they won’t be able to spend time with their children–or have friends and family visit — or they won’t look successful (or more accurately — they might seem poor and old. We’re told that no one wants Grandma’s kitchen.). It suggests to sellers that without an open floor plan, they will never be able to sell their house at any kind of profit, that their largest investment has no value in today’s world.
It’s creative marketing. Brilliant, really. Also, since the marketing convinces home owners that their property has no real value without the Open Floor Plan, they will have to remove walls in order to sell their house. If they don’t, because consumers have been taught to treat the absence of the feature as a deal breaker or that its absence turns a charming, functional home in a good location into a major fixer-upper — then they will have to make a drastic reduction in price just to sell the property which is justified because the new owners will be “required” to spend thousands of dollars to remove the wall. (In the same way new owners would be “required” to get a new roof if they bought a home with leaks). These are the programs that really get to me– the ones that convince sellers to make a major structural change merely in order to put their home up for sale. It takes away the options of buyers who may or may not want the feature (or might not want to pay for it up front or right away), and it requires a huge expenditure on the seller based on what the buyers have been conditioned to look for (whether or not they actually want it). They show young, childless couples who say they’ll have to remove walls before they move in so that they can be in the kitchen and watch their children play –yet they don’t even have children — Or the ones who are relocating and don’t know a single soul in the area but need an open floor plan before they move in so that they can properly entertain. What’s the rush? They don’t even have kids! Maybe their non-existent friends might like them even without the spacious open design? (But the after pictures always show the couples surrounded by friends in their kitchen, as if the kitchen lured these people into their lives. ) Or maybe they could do the remodel after having lived in the place for a year, so that they get a feel for the home and neighborhood? Oh, but that’s crazy talk, accordingly to HGTV. And you can tell it’s marketing because the same buzz words and phrases are used all the time. “This is great to entertain friends and family” or “This is great so I don’t have to feel separated from my kids.” I’m not saying this isn’t true for some people but why do all the people on TV say it exactly the same way? People should make a drinking game out of “Open Floor Plan” “Friends and Family.”
And, the marketing has worked, whether or not everyone wants an Open Floor Plan, the existence of an Open Floor Plan boosts resale value — at least now. So it has real monetary value. So what happens? Homes without the “feature” are sold for considerably less. Real Estate Agents tell sellers they must drop the price or accept a low-ball offer. They have no idea how to market a property without an open floor plan, except to suggest that walls can be removed. And either the properties don’t sell or sell at no profit or at a loss, even if they were lovingly maintained and in a desirable location. The buyers buy them for a depressed price but don’t really benefit from it, because they believe that they must remove walls to make the home “current” and “livable.” Then, whatever money they “saved” by getting a ridiculously low price on a house, they spend on the huge “required” project of removing walls –walls that not only created rooms, but that safely enclosed electrical wires, HVAC, and Asbestos (which is perfectly safe if it’s in the walls, but once it’s disturbed requires professional removal). The wall removal sometimes requires expensive industrial support beams to redistribute the weight of the floors above. Some homes that do not get a buyer willing to do this, end up being torn down because it’s cheaper to build new. (This happens a lot in my area, and not just for the homes that have been neglected beyond repair, but the homes where it wouldn’t be cost effective to recreate the new trends within the existing home’s footprint, even if it’s been maintained.) As for new construction homes that feature the Open Floor Plan, consumers are taught to be comfortable paying more for it based on the fact that it is so costly to remove a wall from an existing home, so paying more to have it already done makes sense. So wrong. New homes don’t have the added cost of removing walls, they were never there. How many times has a potential homeowner on TV who bristles over the price of the new home is told, “Well, everything is done here. You have the open floor plan and modern conveniences. You have to pay for that. If you bought an older home and had the walls removed, you’d spend thousands and live through construction. This way, you’re paying for it up front.” And they do. (No one tells them the option of buying a home with walls and simply not removing them.) They dutifully agree to pay more to have a new home where there are fewer walls. Think about it. Less walls. They are paying more for a “feature” that costs the contractors less to create. Less framing, less drywall, taping and spackling, less trim, less painting. Same basic appliances but expensive stainless steel ones (because they are seen all the time now) where someone is making money off the marked up price. In short, consumers are paying more for a feature that costs less to create. Think about it. If you’ve ever considered new construction (and I have), you know that every time you ask for anything more — shelving, upgraded doors, divided closets, framed-in walls, hardware, etc. — they jack up the price because of the additional materials and labor. Now we’ve been convinced to pay more to not get a wall — and not get additional trim, outlets, cabinets, shelves, lighting, etc. Brilliant.
Who benefits? The contractors and realtors benefit from this. We’ve all seen houses go up. Once the foundation is done, the exterior framing and walls (often pre-fabbed) go up very quickly. It’s the interior framing and finishing that takes a long time. Not having as many interior walls to make, makes construction faster. And because the homes show so well because they are big bright spaces, after the marketing campaign on HGTV, of course, they sell faster, which puts money in the pockets of the home builders and real estate agents — faster. On the other end, if a family dares to buy a home without an open floor plan, the contractors make money from the “required” removal of the wall which we’ve all been convinced must be done, immediately.
It’s brilliant. I gotta say, I’m not anti-construction or contractors. It’s a brilliant plan. It just gives less options for the people who might want something different.
Economically, the requirement of an Open Floor Plan depresses the home values of older neighborhoods with homes without the feature, especially modest homes. It’s one thing to buy a fixer home and put in new appliances, paint, landscaping, etc., it’s quite another to make major structural changes in a modest home. It’s not worth it to pay a pro to do it, and beyond the skills of even the most handy DIYer. The marketing doesn’t allow space for people who either don’t like the Open Floor Plan, or can actually live without it. It also doesn’t allow for the fact that it might be too expensive or architecturally, aesthetically, or practically ill-advised to remove a wall in some homes — just in order to make them marketable to the people who have been told that it is a must have. The thing is, it’s not like indoor plumbing, a feature whose absence would indeed create a hard sell. It’s a design choice — yes, it’s supposed to be a choice — and the marketing has taken the existence of a choice away.
I hear of frustrated sellers who clean and declutter their homes, depersonalize them, make repairs, etc. you know — do all the good stuff to get it ready for sale, but are still met with universal disapproval of potential buyers who seem to mimic the buyers shown on television. Even first-time buyers on a limited budget have been brain-washed into thinking that they cannot live without certain features (which usually include: Open Floor Plan, stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops). Preferring certain features is natural, but being constantly told you can’t live or parent or entertain without certain features is taking it too far. But it’s brilliant marketing.
Regardless of whether a person likes living in an Open Floor Plan design, the one-sided marketing of it has changed everything. Back to your post and my original post — as far as living goes — folks should just make sure they actually like The Open Floor Plan before committing to it — despite the fact that it is often quoted as being the single feature that reportedly has changed real estate. We both pointed out — Open Floor Plans aren’t really new, they have been in apartments forever.
To each his own. For the people who absolutely love the Open Floor Plan they should demand it. But, you know what? They should negotiate for it properly. I think people are paying too much for it in new or newer construction. Don’t pay extra to have fewer cabinets and outlets — and fewer rooms. Maybe request a wall and ask how much that would cost. Then subtract that from the price you offer for home without the wall. Worth a try. And if you don’t have Open Floor Plan, don’t be conned into spending thousands and eating dust to take out walls just to put your home on the market — one day (unless you want it for yourself). Rather, negotiate it properly. Not having an Open Floor Plan is not a defect to be corrected, like iron pipes or radon. Then, market the home to people who don’t necessarily need to have an Open Floor Plan. There are people out there. And for goodness sake, get a real estate agent who knows the difference.
Overly long response. I may make it a post. It’s just that I get the marketing now. It is well-played. Brilliant.
Maybe the paint, trim, drywall and cabinet manufacturers — and the art world — you know, the folks who make money from people who have walls — should launch a counter attack.
Thanks for raising some good points.
Ken Roginski says
Thanks for your comment – you make very important points that homeowners need to be aware of!
Jim H. says
Amazing. I truly have no love for open concept layouts. After reading the various comments here, I’m so glad to find out I’m not the only one! I know we’ve been “blaming” HGTV and the various remodeling/DIY shows on TV. After watching one particular episode, I got SO annoyed one day, that I sent HGTV an email that DARED them to feature one of these shows where an open concept was not part of the remodel. JUST ONE EPOSIDE! That’s all I asked for! As you might imagine, I got no response. But there are other shows fed into homes across the nation on a constant stream that have a hand in the homogenization of what everyone’s design concept “should be”. One such example is: The various Housewives of “Pick your City”. These gals have Money. Fancy cars. Extravagent vacations. Wild Adventures. They are quite “over-the-top” in alot of ways. While their antics and bad behavoir may make for what some consider “good TV”, this lifestyle is what many people consider to be real, and actually strive for. Keeping up with the Joneses has always been with us, and these babes are defining what success is to alot of people. Look at that huge McMansion they live in, with its slabs of granite, open concept layout, beige walls throughout, beige wall-to-wall carpet, beige sectional couches, the list goes on and on. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we’re constantly being marketed to, relative to what success is, how it’s defined, and what design concept equals success. Jeez….a whole new website could be devoted to how trash TV is influencing architecture. Ha! Personally? I don’t want to live in a beige box, in a beige world. Or a beige McMansion in Orange County with my beige kids and beige dog.
Ken Roginski says
Well said Jim!
I like watching Rehab addict for this reason. She takes homes of the 1800s and early 1900s and tries to use as much of the old as she can. Always saying how she doesn’t like modern or open floor plans. Not to mention the lack of character in homes anymore. Maybe that’s because I’m the daughter of a custom carpenter. Give me a Victorian or Craftsman or Queen Anne over these new homes any day!
Judi Duncan says
I still live in a house with a living room, dining room, and kitchen, and I want all three of those rooms. I want walls! I have artwork and bookcases and need places to put them. What a dinosaur I am! I have gone from being hooked on HGTV to hating the sameness of it all. All they do is haul out the sledgehammer and knock down walls, and everything seems to use the same type of backsplashes and same geometric prints in any accents. I am of the age when many downsize, but I would never find a smaller newer place with the WALLS I want and need! Please let’s see some homes with character, taste, and style, designed for someone over 22!
Well stated, my husband and I have been in Fl. for 13 years. Try buying a new home w/o open concept. As far as i’m concerned the builders are saving money w/o the walls and all that goes along with costs of building them. The noise with open concept is something buyers don’t realize.
I too began to shy away from HGTV and others, same ole same ole.
Thank you, Mak, for sharing my observations of the first “open concepts” that I began noticing in builder’s models more than 2 decades ago. It seemed to me a marketing concept birthed out of contractor’s desire to eliminate as much framing and drywall as possible from the floor plan. I suspect that is the rationale behind soaring vaulted or cathedral ceilings as well.
Historically walls were constructed as a mechanism to practically divide interior spaces that differed in their use. Families congregated in dining rooms. “Company” was welcomed into parlors or sitting rooms and served refreshments there. Kitchens were “back-of-house” areas arranged to efficiently manage cooking chores. They generally had ready access to the outdoor garden, shed or cellar for practical reasons. Nicer homes featured built in china cupboards and butler’s pantries. Bedrooms were for rest. This represents a caves-and-commons methodology that served families for more than a century.
Suddenly true craftsmen are a dying breed. The birth of the tract house put builders and developers in a mad dash to see who could throw up the most homes with the fewest custom finishes which takes time and skill to produce. The marketing entities had to scramble to find a way to sell these vacuous, half-finished floor plans to as many folks as possible. Like sheep, people embraced the open concept with no thought for the practicality loss in undivided spaces.
Over-sized furniture had to be manufactured to help mediate the parking-garage atmosphere of a giant unstructured box. It may seem to be a wonderful idea for entertaining, but few people open their homes for formal parties anymore. Anyone with small children who lives in one of these homes must certainly realize how difficult it is to keep the clutter and noise under control. If you rush out of the house in the morning with dishes, mail and other items on the countertop, a guest to your home in the afternoon gets to see it at the front door.
My husband and I once rented a beautiful modern home while we were working on our own little cottage. It was a disaster. The huge kitchen morphed into the breakfast and dining areas with what seemed like an acre of tile to clean. The echo factor was excruciating. I clocked over 12 steps from the stove to the sink, and encountered somebody walking right through the kitchen nearly every time I stepped away from the stove with a pot of boiling pasta to drain. Mopping the floor was a two-hour marathon that left me breathless. I struggled to keep all of the crap that family members dropped on the vast counter space on their way from the garage to wherever they were headed.
For my sake, I was never happier than when we once again settled into our own little nest, with a place for every type of living activity that families typically experience, and none of the aggravation of trying to balance activities like piano practice, reading or conversation with the incessant video games, movies or TV.
A pox on the folks who rush to “remuddle” charming old homes and strip them of all of their character in the process! If a McMansion is what you crave, go buy one of those. Leave the historic bungalows to the rest of us in all of their original glory.
I am over HGTV….the concepts are just builders wants vocalized through staged buyers. The open concept is a fad. For those who claim to require open concept and a kitchen the size of Manhattan…where is all the cooking smoke and grease going? Hmmm…like in the living room etc?
Donna Glasper says
I absolutely LOVE your post. I live in Louisiana and you know that we just had the major flooding and at least 90% of the homes were gutted. I’m at the point of putting my home back together. My home is colonial style and I LOVE it. I’m being harassed by my children (aged 30 & 32) to go with an open floor plan. My son says “it’s the modern style” My daughter says “make it look like my house”. I purchased my home 2 years ago and I house hunted one full year before purchasing because there were so many things I did not want in a home and an open floor plan was one of them. I didn’t want a newer home because the rooms are smaller. So of course i’m up early this morning on google looking for pros and cons of having an open floor plan. This webpage has made my mind up to restore my home as it was. I love the fact that in my dinning room, I could make it my “Louisiana” room with it’s own flare. Each of my rooms has it’s own color and that was one of the selling points for me when I went to the open house. I fell in LOVE with the house at first site, even after looking for one year. So I’m just here to let you know that your post was very helpful to me in making up my mind to keep my walls (although bare at this point). I love privacy and need my walls. I’m currently displaced and living with my daughter and her family in their “open floor plan” and this has helped me to decide against it. At my home I can go into my kitchen and cut on a light and not bother anyone else, that don’t happen here. Sometimes I enjoy darkness, that don’t happen with an open floor plan.
I also do not like the open concept flung at us these days. I can’t even find a house plan that does not show an open plan. We have had an open plan for sixteen years, and I hate it. No privacy, not enough kitchen cabinets/pantry, no eating space (only a formal dining room), and I can’t do anything in the kitchen while the T.V. is on. We also have to look at any mess there is when we don’t do the dishes before going to the family room to visit.
Holly Bordelon says
I’m here in Louisiana, too! Back in my home after having over 5′ of flood water in it Aug ’16. I’m against open floor plans, too. My home is only 14 yrs old but I didn’t build an open plan. I like having my kitchen separate. I never thought about the lights. That’s a good point. I was always more concerned about the noise of water running, pots rattling, etc. Also, my mom had family/friends trying to talk her into taking out walls. However, her husband has a hearing issue and taking out the walls and making one big echo room was not an option!
I’m on this sight to see if I can decorate my kitchen different than my family room. It looks like the answer is “Yes!” Thanks for your help. I hope you’re back in your home now or soon, if not.
You obviously haven’t watched Home Town or several other shows that feature rehab rather than doing open concept. You need to expand your HGTV watching.
I am a Realtor and building a new home right now that my husband is acting as GC. I agree with your assessment entirely. I *hate* the open floor plans. I find them showy, expensive, and ridiculous. A few years ago I helped friends find a home that parachuted into Florida from MD. They were “in love” with these fixer-upper flipping shows with open concepts. They wanted “THAT” lifestyle they saw on TV and proceded to shoot down over 200 homes only to buy a brand new, beautiful 2,400 SF home. Within six months, they wanted to move….and within 18 months, we sold that home. They wanted WALLS in their kitchen. They had no real privacy except in BR’s. The bathrooms were even opening up into the ‘open concept’ space and they went nuts over it…. for several reasons. They wish they had listened to me from the beginning. It cost them dearly to move and buy another home. I’ve found many people that are realizing this same point.
Ann Scott says
I am currently living in my mother and father’s 70’s ranch style house. My kitchen is fairly open to the den, but there is a wall between the den and the formal living room. I know that the design is considered outdated, but I have held off from removing the wall for several reasons. First, my color schemes in the two room are not compatible, but I don’t want to have to refurnish. Also, the living room is somewhat more formal or casually elegant while the den is more “denish.”Next, I fear that the room would be too big if the wall was removed and would lose coziness. I would also lose six outlets, and removing the wall would leave me with few options for hanging art work or placing furniture. Although I live alone, I rather like having two separate rooms to spend time in. And, honestly, I was afraid that a potential future buyer might prefer the division of the two rooms. Still, it might really be pretty to remove the wall, but for now, I think I will keep it. I am trying to be happy with the existing floor plan.
“I recently stopped watching HGTV and DIY networks completely because all the shows say the same thing and feature home owners, contractors and home buyers who want the same thing — in this case the Open Floor Plan — because it’s popular, spacious, and “everybody wants it” these days. Circular reasoning. The programs do not show any alternative wants, needs, or designs, or even home owners who could take or leave the feature. They also don’t show the many families who make do without it.”
“…(or more accurately — they might seem poor and old. We’re told that no one wants Grandma’s kitchen.).
This happens a lot in my area, and not just for the homes that have been neglected beyond repair, but the homes where it wouldn’t be cost effective to recreate the new trends within the existing home’s footprint, even if it’s been maintained.)
“It just gives less options for the people who might want something different.”
I agree with most of the points that you raised as I’ve considered them as well. It’s sad watching people modernize older bungalows or just destroy and scrape them off completely. I also no longer watch these shows for a host of reasons including that I simply cannot stand watching the infantile types of miserable, horrific whiners that these shows consistently feature. I’ve also heard “granny style” used on different design sites or not your mother’s kitchen, etc., and that of course appeals to the vanity of certain types of people who are influenced by their peers to fit in.
I’m also not a fan of the open kitchen concept. With that said I did purchase an older, smaller home which was derogatorily referred to as a “starter home” by real estate know-it-all scumbags. I did reconfigure the space. I closed off one door that lead to the garage and replaced that in a mud/pantry room and I also opened up one wall to the adjoining dining room. It is called a pass through and I gained counter and cabinet space. The re-design made it function better, but I gave it a lot of thought and didn’t do so on a whim. It also made the space feel larger and brighter, but there are some down sides to that as well. I didn’t want an island and most people have those. If people want the latest trend I have to wonder why they just don’t purchase a newer tract home instead of destroying the character of older homes and communities.
I know that the open kitchen plan is more popular. Many people are taking these older homes and completely knocking down all the walls to get that open floor plan look. I don’t like it. I don’t want to see my kitchen in my living room. Perhaps I’m just an odd ball, but I’m happier as it is and I tend to like spaces that are cozier and defined. It suits me just fine and we make do and have appreciated the changes. I also still live in my starter home too resisting other people’s attempts to influence or to try to run my life.
For me it’s pretty simple- you want an open floor plan, buy a new home. Don’t take an old home and destroy it’s charm. In a few years, the pendulum will swing back, and the same owner’s will realize no one wants to see your dirty kitchen dishes when they walk in your front door, and that little Johnny will be just fine if he’s in the next room over for a few minutes learning to play alone.
Thank you for the wonderful posts, all of you! I have never liked an open floor plan. I like quiet in the kitchen. Baking and measuring requires some peace. And yes, I confess, sometimes at the end of the day after dinner, if we feel like piling the dishes in the sink and doing them later so we can hang out in the den, we do. And as for keeping an eye on children with an open floor plan- I knew to go to the den and check on the children when it got REALLY QUIET. That’s when they were up to no good. If there was a little one around, that child simply hung out with me in the kitchen and played in the tupperware cabinet. I hate granite counters-granite is a non-renewable resource, and one day all of that beautiful stone will be in a landfill. Stainless shows fingerprints. White kitchen appliances and bath fixtures are timeless. When you get bored, you just simply paint the room. Whole new look for hardly any money. I bought my second home from a woman who actually apologized for it “Sorry for the wood windows and the kitchen being separate from the living area” I told her that THAT was precisely what had sold me on her home. My kitchen is enormous and fits my ten foot wood table perfectly. Yes, “friends and family” gather in it when they come over. But that’s fine, because I chose to invite them and the space is large. But for the 325 days a year they are NOT there, it’s a nice space away from the bigscreen. We are buying a gutted house and restoring it. And I have yet to find a contractor who does not insist on vinyl windows and knocking down half the walls. I had started to think I was perhaps crazy until I stumbled onto this site. I will stick to my guns. Old house is going to relive her former glory!
Ken Roginski says
Yes – everyone is brain washed. Stick to your guns and in the meantime the contractors etc. will learn that the traditional lay out it still alive.
Sharon Smith says
We bought a c. 1799 Maine farmhouse in 1972. It needed a world of repair (Handyman’s Dream House). In some ways, not much remains but the 8×8 beams, rubblestone cellar, and most of the floor plan. It’s an historic airspace.
We had to replace the curly clapboard siding, the insulation (back-plastering filled with snakeskins and mouse nests), the 2-over-2 windows (which were being installed c. 1900 to replace the 6-over-6s, as we see in an old photo), the interior walls (no way to salvage that accordion-type lath, sadly), and the entire second story (quite a big surprise–but it had been altered in major ways by very poor farmers in 1929).
We also had no choice about fireplaces or stairs–the original house was 4 rooms + attic with back-to-back fireplaces, but those had been ripped out in 1929 in favor of center stairs when the attic grew dormers.
But we wouldn’t touch the house’s basic layout (except the 1929 mother-in-law apartment that was used one year then abandoned; that became our living room).
We love having a large kitchen with room for a Hitchcock breakfast table and platform rocker, plus a full dining room (formerly a parlor; before that it was the main room, where food was cooked in the fireplace), and a parlor (formerly the “good” parlor), and the remains of the original kitchen-pantry (now my tiny Study).
A house actually seems smaller when it’s made into one “big” room. You’re stuck there, and can’t wander into another room with different decor and associations.
Can you do an article on how ridiculous the concept of being “dated” is? We live in an age where we’re taught to hate things simply because another decade did them, and design has suffered heavily for it. “Ew, that is so 70’s/80’s/whatever!”. Oh no, something doesn’t look like 2014, so it must be destroyed, right?
Aesthetics are not dependent on time period. Any style from any era is capable of being aesthetically pleasing when done correctly. Not everything has to look like 2014. Heck; nothing does, really. 2014 is pretty ugly.
Ken Roginski says
So true! Planning a similar article – just need to find the time. If something is a few years old it looks tired and dated. If it is older – say 1980’s or older then it can be classic. A pure 1980’s or 1950’s that really takes you back will never look tired. Sadly a retro look is frowned on and considered out of style by many..
Kay Demlow says
Sadly, the scorn for “old-fashioned” houses is nothing new. I have an old home economics textbook from the 1920s that shows how an “ugly” old Arts and Crafts bungalow can be updated into a stylish Colonial Revival. People are so fickle!
Ted Poe says
I am an experienced homebuyers, homeowner and home seller. Over 50 years, I bought and lived in 10 homes. In 3 cities. Went from half of a couple to a mother with children who came as babies and left as grown ups. Lost one husband and some square footage, as well as half the combined assets. I speak from experience of being a working mother before it was fashionable to being an empty nester. My first home was brand new in a brand new subdivision, brick, central air and heat 3-1-1 of 1100 square ft housing sold for 10 dollars a sq ft in a new subdivision in Houston, Tx to 3,500 custom built story and a half. I have plenty of experience living in homes. Here is what I found to be useful criteria.
Buy a house that appeals to you as it is. Update it with some window treatments that go with your current furnishings. Learn to live with things as they are. If you don’t like the color of a room, buy a new bedspread or sofa pillows to tie it together with the furniture you already have. Landscape the yard by cutting back existing bushes and buy a few to replace those that are dead. Fertilize the lawn. If you want to put your mark on the house, paint the front door a bright color you like. Install some shutters in a color that contrasts with the color of the house. Put a pot of flowers on the front porch.
Value all separate rooms and walls. They provide places for all hangings, pictures, storage, shelves and more furniture. A walled off kitchen was a step above the so called open plan. It provided a place for the cook to cook without interruption of thought and activity. When entertaining, walls prevent guests from wondering in and also no view of the messy kitchen. The meal for company is to be prepared BEFORE they arrive, not cooked while they are there. After the meal is served, the soiled dishes are to be removed from the dining area and put on the counters in the kitchen for clean up later, after the guests have left. It is a more formal level of entertainment than the level of sprawling all over the “great room” with food, watching foot ball, etc.
Being able to supervise the children while preparing a meal is a stage of family life that lasts only a few years. After that, families love the opportunity for privacy and aloneness of the various members. They don’t want to all be together all the time. All that togetherness contributes to the older children wanting to go elsewhere, not stay home. Being in each other’s face all the time does not contribute to marriage intimacy. It is counter productive to it.
Houses without walls are ones that the family outgrows. Causes them to want to move again to another house that meets the needs of a maturing family.
Houses with 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2 living areas, 2 dining areas, 2 bathrooms, laundry area inside the house, 2 garages, nice back yard and attractive exterior were the housing goals of the houses that were built prior to 1970. This was the middle class dream house. Today’s sprawling houses with the open plan give full view of all the babies toys, equipment and the wreck in the kitchen to anyone whenever they enter the front door. There is no place to put the stuff and no way to hid it.
If the mother wants to watch the children while working in the kitchen, consider placement of some attractive wall mirrors worked into the décor. Turn off the TV and music and develop the mother’s ears of women in the past. Also the eyes in the back of the head prior mothers had.
One more thing about entertaining in a house with 2 living areas and an enclosed kitchen. It provides space for dividing the crowd when entertaining the family. Put the food in the kitchen. Put the men in the den with the TV. Put the women in the living room to do whatever women do. Let the children play in the yard. Lay the babies to sleep in the bedroom. Put the coats and purses in the guest room. Make drinks in the kitchen sink. Let food and drink overflow into the back yard if more space is needed. At Christmas time, get a tree that can be placed at the end of a sofa next to a wall which will take up only the amount of space that the end table had required.
All of these things can fit into 2000 sq ft nicely.
Ken Roginski says
Thank you for your comment – people can learn from your first hand experience before making a costly mistake. Trendy design is never what it’s sold to be.
You are quite wise! Thank you for your post!
Jeannie Furey says
Wow. This response was therapy to me. I have been so unaware how greatly disturbed I really am as to the complete disregard other people’s true life experiences are treated with these days. How poignantly and intelligently your experiences highlight the utmost practicability of considering the purposes behind the original construction of homes that have served up to now.
The impracticality of how to possibly put up walls to section off a home that is built with the open plan and high ceilings is a huge reason to not even consider looking at such a home if in the market to begin with, as far as I’m concerned.
This has been an eye opening article to start with, but I really have enjoyed the comments, especially this one by the experienced Ted Poe.
Ed Poe says
I want to draw a comparison here. I have owned about 10 homes over 49 years. They ranged from 1100 sq feet to 3500 sq ft. I have experience. Each time I looked at many houses before buying. I have seen a lot of houses. At work, I was a school district wide administrator in a very large school district. I saw lots of schools with a big range of age. In the last years of the 1970s and early couple of years in the 1980s there was a new concept shoved on the school people by the builders of new schools called Open Concept schools. These schools were said to be better because they looked bigger and there was no wasted space. Also, spaces could be shared. About the same time there were efforts of team teaching. These open concept schools had big open spaces with few halls and few walls. For example several classrooms were built into one big room. Maybe the same grade level, maybe not. There were no halls. Traffic criss crossed. School districts that built themselves an Open Concept school were very proud of them. Visitors from other school districts visited the new Open Concept schools to help them plan one for their school district. The major advantage of the Open School concept was that they were cheap for the builders to build. They made a bigger profit. The reason was, the buildings, rooms, etc were actually smaller than those in the traditional buildings. For example a lab room that prior was 1125 sq ft was only 950 to 1000 sq ft. Hall that had taken up room were gone. So, more sq footage was gone. Well, the teachers hated teaching in these schools. They did what they could to make dividers within the space. Sounds from one classroom setting were heard in the next seating arrangement. Teachers voices from the next setting were heard in several others. Lucky was the school district that had not built an elementary school during this period of time. Unfortunate indeed were the districts that built more than one. They were an embarrassment to the administration and a chapter in education best unspoken of and forgotten. Since most of these were built in new neighborhoods which were also up class, the schools themselves were well thought of. Just the school building was an eye sore and not good for the academic process. These buildings were inferior to the traditional buildings that went before them. They were not cheaper for the school district, just cheaper for the builder who got the bid to build.
I cannot see how a family home built with an open concept would fare better for the persons living in it than did the users of these school buildings fare with their open concept school.
Open concept makes things feel and look bigger. They are not bigger. They are usually smaller. The absence of halls and walls create an optical illusion. There are other optical illusions that builders can use. For instance, looking from one area into another and still another 3rd area creates an optical illusion of greater distance. It is an attractive illusion, but not really greater space. No halls and no walls decreases privacy, storage, and other factors homes provide. The absence of those things does not increase family harmony and togetherness.
About the cook interacting with the guests when entertaining in an open concept kitchen. Real cooking requires consentration and the thought process. The real cooks I know do not want people mingling around and a lot of chatter going on while they are cooking.
In the past and in more formal settings than the current climate provides, a company meal was prepared prior to the “party”. It was served about 15 minutes after the guests arrived at the time they were invited. The clean up took place after the guests departed, about an hour after the meal was served. The meal was prepared in the kitchen. The dinner was served in the dining room. The best china and linens were used. Dessert and coffee might be served in the living room. Men went outside to smoke cigars. Conversation consisted of topic of general interest and was called small talk. Work was not discussed. Controversial topics such as politics, religion, sex and money were taboo. This format was called gracious living.
Gracious living lends itself more to separate rooms. The open concept, TV used as entertainment, cooking inside and outside, paper plates and cups and bottled drinks all go with the Open Concept.
Ken Roginski says
Good point I wasn’t aware of – open plans create an illusion of being bigger. Thank you for sharing your expert experience and wisdom!
Builders will probably soon go back to the homes they built with open floor plans and then try to sell a new trend of re-separating the rooms. A good way to get more money out of someone. Keep selling trends and have a customer for life.
I also worked in education, and saw how ineffective open plans are. Noise is always difficult to contain and children do have “big” voices! I could not have concentrated on teaching if I had been in the classroom. It was difficult enough in the school offices.
I am not a formal person anymore, but I do appreciate a closed kitchen and dining room, and a place for T.V. watching that is separate from the living room. I would love a combination theater/T.V. room with a space for making popcorn, and a fridge for drinks. A good space for sports fans and serious T.V. watchers! I still like an indoor laundry room. I never liked a cold garage space for laundry!
Matt Wright says
Just putting this out there: If I were to tell you I was going to ask a board dedicated and passionate about restoring old homes their opinion on ‘open concept’, you would guess correctly 1000 out of 1000 times that the response would probably be less than enthusiastic.
I have to chuckle at the ‘fad’ comments, because open concept was the original design of the first tents and round houses built by humans to protect themselves from the elements. Society and technology have evolved sufficiently that none of us are pining for the fjords of teepees and round houses these days, so why shouldn’t social and technological evolution shouldn’t continue to impact home design? I agree with one of the previous posters suggesting that modern family trends have modified the need for the kitchen to be separate from the rest of the house. Additionally, the trend towards smaller families with only nuclear members creates less pressure for separation and privacy. On the technology side, the advent of modern appliances and fire mitigation devices obviate the need to separate the kitchen from the rest of the house.
Sure, open concept has the appeal of ‘making small appear larger’. Well.. that’s just good design, right? Isn’t this site focused on classical design elements whereby we’re in a constant battle to please the eye, even if that means fooling it? In an age where most of us would welcome the death of the McMansion Movement and never have to look at another raised ranch again and have everyone move into smaller, more efficient, more practical, more affordable, more green, more culturally relevant homes, there’s no need to poo poo this trend. The challenge is to find practical ways to blend modern needs with historical context, or old houses will continue to fall into disrepair and be lost. We’re certainly not going to change our culture back to the 1800’s, so…
Making things look bigger is not inherently good design. Sometimes small and cozy is perfectly good. I’m single and live alone, so I have no need for privacy. The problem with open-concept floor plans for me is the lack of wall space for placing furniture and displaying art, and the lack of doors to close to keep the cats out of certain parts of the house. I just extended a wall by 18″ to give me a corner in which to place my mother’s 28″ corner china cabinet (which I needed to keep her china in) because there was not a single corner in the entire house except in the bedrooms! My sister got to keep most of my parents’ antique furniture because she has a house with walls and I don’t. I was just directed to this blog by a comment on another general blog with a post about open concept kitchens. There were well over 100 comments, and the vast majority of those comments favored separate or semi-open kitchens. Most were against open concept kitchens. These were not people interested in vintage homes. I was surprised and happy to realize that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like open floor plans, stainless steel, and granite counter tops.
I love your concepts and points and the fact you love vintage homes. I’m single too. Want a date? 😉
At least you have your mom’s china, but I appreciate your feelings about not being able to find space for some of her furniture. Our living room has walls, but so many large windows that there is only one wall for china/crystal displays, and it’s broken up by a wide doorway. I love natural light, but it’s not necessary to have four large windows in one room.
I am totally with you all on the open kitchen floor plan – not a fan of it. But can I ask, what does this comment mean?
“Must all races and nationalities be combined into one monocultured group?”
I am sorry, but what? I don’t understand. Are you against interracial marriages? I do not understand what was meant by that comment, or why it was included in the post. Thanks.
Ken Roginski says
Hi – thanks for your comment. I am certainly not against interracial marriages! The statement means that designers are taking away our individualism and lumping our lives into one homogenous group. The same with taking our separate rooms and separate decors and combining them into one large room.
Oh good! Thank you. Just was like, wait, is that statement implying combining races is a bad thing? So I wanted to check 🙂
Agree that separate spaces are THE BEST. It’s one of the reasons we love our house – entryway, living room, den, dining room, and kitchen, all have their own beautiful doorways/archways. And the privacy and comfort that comes with it.
Howdy, I totally understood what you are talking about Ken. I am in a interracial marriage for almost 60 years. And thought nothing of what you said. Folks please don’t read something into it that’s not there.
By the way I don’t like open floor plans. I am one that gets bored seeing the same color of drapes valance that I change them often and there far it gives it a different look , so open floor plan would not work for me. We own 4 homes none have open floor plan, not even the one we design18 yrs ago. We are making plans for our second home that we will be building.
We are going to move from a 3000 sq ft home into a much smaller place not much over 1000 sq ft. We want a large kitchen as well as a large family room and very small bedrooms. Would we be making a mistake having small bedrooms . I have not seen anyone discuss placement of laundry rooms. Every house I’ve lived in I had to carry my dirty laundry through the kitchen, not my new home . It will be not go through my kitchen!!
I recently bought a new home that has a semi-open floor plan. I have always liked the open floor plan and entertained the though of knocking down the one wall that would convert my home to this style, however after moving In I realize I like my privacy and do not want to be always in view of my family. Also when I am watching tv or reading in the living area I like peace and calmness, I think if my home was open as in a great room I would lose that peace. I think it works for most but it is not my style. I’m glad I realized that before going forward with costly remodel job.
I personally can NOT stand the open floor plan. I’ve never liked it outside of an apartment. I love old houses and in particular, ones that were built in the late 1800’s/turn of the century. My relatives bought an open floor plan, and while they are clanging around in the kitchen, I can barely hear the TV, there is no piece and quiet in the house, and I find myself constantly hanging out in the bedroom for just about everything other than social time with them (and even then it gets noisy), or eating dinner. I’ve always been one for older houses, their charm, style, and lots of big old rooms with designations for each of them. I like space, but I’d rather have just bigger rooms than to start taking down walls and then having less rooms. I would think this would more “de-value” a house rather than increase it as once this is done, there are now LESS rooms – bigger yes, but less of them. If you want more room, I would suggest buy a bigger house, or add on to your current one, but taking down walls (unless the house is full of 5 x 5 rooms and you need to combine a few), you will regret it later – trust me. I know so many people that have, and have known some to have put the walls back up! You also do not want to change the integrity and historic architecture if it’s an older home. This is disappearing everywhere today and will become less and less and harder to find in the future.
Love this discussion. I, too, am so tired of the “open floor plan”. HGTV needs to be ashamed that it cannot offer any variety in renovation. As a working mother, I did NOT want a house where the used pots, pans and/or dishes from the meal were within view, especially when having special celebrations and company visiting. One doesn’t go to a nice restaurant and want to see what the cook is doing: the aesthetics of a peaceful, neat dining experience is invaluable.
I think when the young families shown so often on HGTV or DIY Network have teenagers, they will wish there was more separation from them and their children’s friends. The adults want to be able to talk calmly and pleasantly while, though within view or hearing, the children play in a separate area.
I too, have decided not to watch HGTV so often-it’s boring. And a large part of the boredom is the renovation of every home into “open floor plans”-it’s so predictable.
I am so excited to finally find some like-minded individuals out there. I watch a lot of HGTV and DIY network and it never ceases to amaze me how they ALWAYS go with the open floor plan / stainless steel appliances / granite counter tops. I just don’t get the obsession with these things. Stainless steel is far too modern looking for my tastes, granite counters make me picture young children with broken teeth (stone is unforgiving compared to other materials) and I like the idea of separate spaces for separate activities.
I recently purchased a 1500 square foot house that was built in 1897 and it was the non-open floor plan that really sold me on it. Their are separate rooms for cooking, dining and general living and they are connected by large doorways with functioning doors. It makes for a very practical layout that enables everyone to feel connected to each other but also helps hide the clutter and gives everyone the opportunity to have some space when needed.
As others have already mentioned, I too prefer to be left alone when cooking. I need to concentrate on what I am doing.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I stumbled on this website while looking for ideas about how to make my “closed” floor plan more attractive to home buyers. Our 10-year old home is one of the only closed floor plans in our semi-rural neighborhood of 100 homes. We have been trying to sell it unsuccessfully for 16 months. Our list price is at or below sold prices, but we have watched every other house sell (about 12 including a few distressed sales) over the past 2 years. Our current agent is saying our floor plan is undesirable to most buyers. We can’t afford to change it, and couldn’t recoup the expense if we did. She says all we can do is lower the price. Your posts help me understand why buyers might be ignoring us but also give me some hope that with clever marketing (which probably won’t come from our current agent) we might find a buyer who doesn’t require the open floor plan.
Ken Roginski says
It all makes sense. It’s not so much they buyer wanting or needing an open floor plan. It’s the mindset. Designers, builders, and realtors are all set on the idea that this is the way to go. They have convinced the public that this is what they need. Once everybody opens up their floor plan, they will tell us to close it up again. It’s all about making money.
Cindy Sullivan says
I’m so tired of hearing the first request of new home buyers is that they have to have the open floor plan. No, no, no, and again NO – I hate the open floor plan and can not use the word hate in a stronger way than I just did. I’ve lived in both type houses, currently have the open plan and would never, never, never buy a house with this plan again. My kids are grown, but we lived in the non-open plan when they were young. Please, people need to have some space from their kids and the last thing I want is never to be able to be alone in my kitchen doing what needs to be done. You don’t need to be hovering over your children 24/7 – they will be fine in another room away from you, trust me. There is no imagination in house building and architecture any more – everyone is so brainwashed into thinking this new trend is the end all-be all. Bottom line for me is if I can see a kitchen sink and/or kitchen cabinets from the family or living room – it’s too open for me!
For myself, I would never choose open concept. I think many young couples falling for the marketing will regret it once they’ve lived with it for a while and start to think for themselves.
And count me among those who wish that people who do want open concept would just buy or build homes with open kitchens and no front foyers from the get go instead of ruining older homes that were never meant to be open concept.
When I cook I want privacy so I can concentrate. I want to contain the noise and the mess and the smells and the mystery. It’s a work space. I wouldn’t want an open kitchen any more than I’d want an open laundry room.
When I answer the front door I don’t want whomever is there to be able to see into my house beyond the front foyer. When people arrive at my house, IF I’m inviting them in, I want to be able to hang up their coats by the front door and offer them a front hall mirror to check themselves if they want. When I see a guest to the door, I may want to be able to have private words of parting. It’s a transition space between public and private and from which the house should reveal itself slowly IMO. I’m looking at you Joanna Gaines.
And what’s with ripping up any stone or tile floor that these HGTV hosts see? Good grief, sometimes that stone or tile would be nearly impossible to replace nowadays and they just automatically assume it has to go. The Property Brothers brothers routinely rip up original terra cotta tile floors so they can put down new porcelain tile floors from China.
I think what these HGTV hosts do to some of the houses they get their hands on is a crime. I’m thinking of a 1960s Regency house the Property Brothers brothers ruined (although in that case the homeowners insisted on a lot of the bad design decisions) and the 1970s atrium house Chip and Joanna Gaines ruined.
A postwar ranch or split level, a Regency house, 70’s modern, a bungalow, a Craftsman, a Victorian, a farmhouse, a 2000s townhouse – these all call for different design elements. An open-concept design, kitchen island with stools, subway tile backsplashes, hardwood floors, and crown molding are not called for in every house. In fact, as I think about it, they’re pretty much only called for in true, honest-to-goodness industrial lofts, except for the crown molding.
And I really dislike granite in the home. For floors I like polished concrete, terrazzo, or possibly granite tiles on the ground level. But only in the right house. (And I’m Italian. ;-)) For countertops, I like Formica, Corian, or – if I can afford it – stainless steel. I would never choose stone.
My parents raised six kids in an eight-room house (eventually a nine-room house when they added a sun room) with actual rooms. The kitchen had a typical doorway and although it was a small kitchen we had a picnic-table style table in the kitchen where were ate most of the time. The only way into the kitchen was through the door between the kitchen and the dining room. Both of them liked to cook and I think it was actually their refuge. And you know what? We kids got along fine without them monitoring our moves and playing referee every moment of the day.
These HGTV hosts seem like lovely people. But I don’t like what the HGTV channel is doing to Americans’ expectations of what a house should be or have, especially a starter house.
I’m glad to read everyone’s post to see I’m not alone. We are beginning the process of building a retirement home and have met with no less than ten builders and toured at least 25 model homes and have reviewed as many floor plans. The home we have finally decided on was the ONLY one where the kitchen had a wall separating it from the great room. Every builder I met I told them I do not want my kitchen open into the great room and cited many of the reasons mentioned here. Oftentimes they looked at me like I was crazy. While my new kitchen will not be a completely separate room like the house I grew up in, I’m excited to have my space where the dishes can sit in the sink if need be and I can cook in peace without interruptions from those in the great room.
So glad to hear that others feel the same way I do. We bought a 1920’s home about four years ago and the open concept had started. A wall in the center hall that once closed off the butlers pantry and the kitchen were already gone when we bought the house. We did not even know the house had a butlers pantry until we took up layers of flooring and found where the framing had been for the room.
My husband and I grew up with parents who built their own homes , so we are not strangers to construction. Rebuilding what was taken out is very expensive, time consuming not to mention trying to find building materials from the time period that were destroyed is almost impossible. I actually called one salvage dealer trying to find heart pine flooring and he told me my house was worth more in salvage than standing! We have the butlers pantry complete and the kitchen is 90 percent complete. We just hung the kitchen door leading from the center hall into the kitchen, we found the door after searching for a year for a period correct door. The door was placed in the same location as the original door.
My advice, Please stop and think before you butcher an old house!
Ken Roginski says
You speak wise words!
Bre Heinz says
I have lived in both open and traditional floor plan homes and let me tell you, there is a reason for walls. The noise level is the number one reason I don’t like this new one room look. I can’t use the mixer in the kitchen when my husband is watching TV. I have to keep the kitchen spotless when people stop by. The cavernous space echos. It doesn’t have a cozy feeling. I don’t know why people think they all need to be together all the time. A little space now and then doesn’t hurt. As far as a traditional floor plan, people say the rooms are too small. In the past we always manage to have a large families in one house enjoying each others company. It was nice to have another room for the children to go in. Give me walls any day!
I know what you mean. We had six in our family and usually only had three bedrooms, and a small living/dining room and smallish kitchen. I see so many couples with one or two kids who seem to think they need a 3,500 sq’ home or they will never have enough room for the family!!
I grew up in a small (36′ x 36′) Cape Cod house from the 1920s. That place had plenty of walls and doors. Even though both my parents, my brother, two dogs, and I lived there, the house was always quiet and had plenty of privacy. Mom cooked dinner, and the noises and odors disturbed nobody; my contribution was to clean up after dinner, ditto.
Mom recently moved to a nursing home, and I had to renovate the house for sale. Every contractor began by saying, “Tear down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room! Create an open floor plan!” I refused. The house was already lovely, functioned perfectly, and had architectural integrity.
I’ve been wanting this idea in my kitchen floor. Thanks for sharing this. I know there are risks for this but I want to try. I haven’t yet renovated my home and I think this is the right time. I hope, this is the right decision for me.
Katie Windham says
Linda, I’m glad to see your comment. I think the site attracted the open floor plan haters. I agree that historical homes should not have a modernized open floor plan kitchen. And homes with large square cottage don’t need open floor plan. But I have just purchased my “retirement” garden home and while the kitchen is not tiny, I do feel claustrophobic with it closed off from the great room and dining room. I do NOT like guests being separated from me when I entertain, and I’m not talking about all the prep and actuall cooking. There are still many tasks the cook needs to do just before putting the meal on the table — unless you are serving cold food. And I do not have a TV in the living room so the issue for the “man” in the living room watching TV would not be an issue for the novice made by the “little woman” cooking in the kitchen. I have lived in both type floor plans, and I much prefer open — and marketing by designers, builders or real estate agents had nothing to do with it. People prefer different things.
I don’t like open floor plans. Some people don’t like the fact that I left the wall up between the dining room and the kitchen when remodeling a couple of years ago. Some were shocked that I did not get stainless steel appliances. I have my own preferences and refuse to follow the standard of HGTV. If someone else likes an open floor plan, good for them. But please don’t tell me I have to like what’s trendy. Give me an old fashioned eat-in kitchen any day. I love old homes and refuse to destroy the character of mine!
Ame Hughes says
I have found my soul mates here! My husband and I were in real estate hell for 9 long months (it was a comedy of errors, truly, that resulted in us putting offers on several homes and losing them, and in the end finding out we could double our price range and winding up with the perfect house for our needs), and we looked at many, many houses. I got into the habit of looking at real estate listings while waiting for my hyper son to fall asleep at night, and that habit stuck (we’ve been in our home for over a year now). I loathe open floor plans. As a family of six introverts, with multiple pets, we need as many walls and doors as we can get. We bought a house that was built in 1951, but at some point, some fool removed several interior doors – including French doors to the sunroom, which is now my art studio. The listing agent described it as having “a wonderful open floor plan.” Well, thankfully, it’s NOT an open floor plan, and whomever took down the doors at least left them in the basement. They’re all going back up eventually, after stripping and refinishing.
I lived in apartments for years. I didn’t realize until I read this post that that’s why I dislike open floor plans so much. Well, that, and I prefer old houses.
Looking forward to reading more!
Well what do you know, the “I hate open floor plans” club is bigger than I thought!
When we were house hunting about 8 years ago, the words “open floor plan” – along with “renovated kitchen” and “new windows throughout” – got listings shuffled to the bottom of my list. I thought I might be the last living person who doesn’t like open floor plans, renovated kitchens (which inevitably meant shiney speckled granite and stainless appliances), or ugly vinyl windows. The real estate agents all thought I was some sort of freak – I literally said things like “Do you have any listings with old windows, unrenovated kitchens, and lots of walls?”
In the end, we wound up buying an old house that had been partially “remuddled”, but in a fix-able manner. The original windows were still intact, and there was a delightful absense of either stainless steel or granite. But the previous owner had taken out the interior walls between the living room, dining room, and kitchen, creating one large, unbalanced muddle of a space.
Because the purchase price was right, we were able to afford to re-remodel the house….by putting all the walls back in.
I, do not like open floor plans. Never, followed the crowd. Bought our 1952 ranch, and proceeded to rid every modern light and fixture to retired and original 1930-1950 fixtures. Re did all 1952 windows from some cracked glass to sash, putty, etc., and added new storms. Left the hardwood as is, no high shine gloss. Original pink and gray and black bathroom. Its leaky all over now and the re do will be timeless, and reflect the age and style perfectly. All decor reflects and respects the age, and original builder. He built by hand, for his wife this 1200 square foot house. That, is why I bought this house over all others. My husband says, your the only person I know who took out all modern things the second owner did and re did the home to reflect its origin. To me if you want new, buy it or build it. If you want to honor the past and the creation of the original man or woman, you may not even know. Then, you do do while making it your own. Not, what the brain washing marketing ploys, want you to believe is better. My American Indian father, always taught me to never follow the crowd off the cliff. Stand at the edge, and beckon them to turn around.
Ken Roginski says
D Monsta says
We just bought a cool 1976 ranch which still has its original cabinetry (still in great shape) and separate rooms. Of all the ranches we looked at, maybe 2 hadn’t been stripped of their 70’s vibe, walls knocked out or ‘updated’. So sad! ‘Cause we love it the way it is! I think the 70’s ranch deserves it’s little spot in history just as much as a 50’s bungalow or 20’s cape cod or whatever. So I hope we’re not the only ones who aren’t knocking down walls and wasting perfectly good (real wood) cabinets in the name of keeping up with the sheeple trends! If you want new, go buy a new house! 🙂 Save the funky ones for cats who love a groovy crib!
Wow. Lots of comments. One guy wrote a whole novel as his comment. I had to scroll back up to see the name because I thought maybe it was not a comment but part of the article! Lol.
Why does everyone want an open concept?! We Have an 1890 Queen Anne Victorian – so fun to live in. It’s not just a house- It’s an experience living in an old house! If you were to take down all my walls and see my rooms all together at once people would possible get dizzy from all the colors together! So fun to have a different color in every room!
Everything in Old houses are constructed for purpose. Every single thing in them was done for a reason, I believe. Not just cost cutting. Windows on every wall?! Cross ventilation? Imagine that? Divided rooms and high ceilings? Brilliant! Transoms for air flow? A room just for your China and serving pieces? Pure luxury. Unpainted, gorgeous detailed woodwork? No way who want that?
I always wonder- when you remove all the walls in any house where the heck do all the closets go?? Where do you put your STUFF? What’s the point of all this wide open space for all this “entertaining” that aparantly goes on when on a day to day basis you have no hidden storage?
One episode of Fixer Upper on HGTV ( which sucks now- originally they had such a great variety of shows now they are few and all the same) where they bought the old house to make a bed and breakfast. JoAnne says “this feels very Victorian, I want to make it more farm house” ( well it WAS a Victorian DUH) and then proceeded to take down the whole hallway entrance and made an open concept kitchen. WHAT?! When you stay in a bed and breakfast you want the hallway wall for privacy! A guest doesn’t want to have thier bedroom door open up right onto the view of the main living room and kitchen where everyone is hanging around?! And cooking?? How would you have a kitchen look neat in a bed and breakfast?!! Do we need to see what’s going on in there?! That’s not the experience people want in a bed and breakfast. They want to experience living in a great old house, not a funky modernized family home. Those hosts should take a trip to Cape May New Jersey and stay in the perfect, pristine Victorians there and learn the business of what a bed and breakfast should be.
I better stop- I could go on and on!
Ken Roginski says
Hi, Mary. I so totally agree with everything you said. Sure hope this open trend changes soon. See my comments a couple spaces below yours. – Diane
Luna Foster says
Thanks for letting me know about it. Your kitchen is the heart of the home. Even if you’re not an avid cook, the kitchen is the space that most people like to entertain in and enjoy spending time with family. The aesthetics are important, but the function of how your kitchen works is even more important.
I am so happy to comment. My home is not open concept, and the rooms are extremely well defined. Not only do I love designing every room, but I much prefer this kind of space for large parties. Everyone says that open concept is good for “flow,” but it isn’t at all compared to my house. In my house, almost all of the rooms are connected through the room or through hallways such that I have amazing “flow,” Furthermore, people can gather in small groups in individual rooms, and actually hear each other. At friends’ homes with open concept we are all in one room, the noise is deafening (so I cannot hear someone right beside me), and I have to “excuse” myself through the crowd to get to another side of the room. In my house, I kick everyone out of the kitchen who isn’t helping me. My husband entertains at the bar. Folks get their drinks then scatter to several rooms to enjoy conversation, music, tv–whatever they are interested in. After food is prepared, I can easily entertain going from room-to-room. If its a small sit-down dinner party (up to 14), I have a large dining room where we can all get together for an elegant meal and conversation followed by folks going to whatever space they choose. If its a large buffet, everyone mills around and there is plenty of seating. Even quiet nooks where just two or three can gather.
Last year when we were house hunting just about every older home we looked at suffered what I called the open floor “flipper treatment.” Seemed like all the sellers were watching the same HGTV show, down to identical Home Depot cabinets and back splashes. Sometimes there wasn’t even any wall or cabinet space left for a built-in microwave. We finally found an early 70s home with an enclosed kitchen that you couldn’t see from the entry. We even ended up constructing a half wall to separate the entry area from the living room and provide more wall space. It had probably been there originally. However, this open floor plan fad is still rampant in SoCal. Here’s an example of a expensive remodel of a modest beach house, where you literally fall into the kitchen after opening the front door. Ugh. It’s too expensive and it’s still on the market. Epic design fail.
You are right! That house is boring, colorless, and lacks any charm whatsoever! Looking at it was depressing.
Sally- so true…just what I was going to say about flipped houses! I hate it. I’m in the San Diego area. I look at houses on Trulia all the time and it makes my stomach turn how many old cute houses have been ruined by flippers. These jerks care about nothing but making money and leave a slew of Frankenstein houses in thier wake, completely obliterating any charm, intimacy and coziness they once enjoyed. I once saw a darling 1930’s spanish in SD that had recently been flipped. When I looked at the pictures of the interior, it was truly one of the most hideous looking things I had ever seen. It was like one big square box. It had been given cathedral ceilings- which I think made it look like a cheap manufactured home- dining, kitchen and living room walls gone. boring ugly new kitchen that looked like a a Home Depot sample kitchen that was far too large and out of proportion with the rest of the space, etc., etc. it looked like an ugly urban wherehouse. I am growing very tired of it. It kills me to see adorable, original condition houses listed as fixer uppers or ‘investment opportunities!’- knowing that they will soon be destroyed by the idiot flippers or clueless, HGTV worshipping homebuyers. Uugghhh!
So many people don’thave time to cook so they go out to dinner, or get takeout. Many don’t even know how to cook so their showroom kitchen is not even used.
Recently, a long-empty, but recently purchased, red brick Queen Anne-style home in my neighborhood was selected to be on a DIY network home rehab show. The neighborhood has been “all-a-twitter” about the fancy tv show house, and nosey people from across the city have flocked to my “hood” to see this now-infamous home. It was the billed as the feature house on this year’s home tour because of this. The owners have become celebrities. But none of this illustriousness is due to how the new owners or the DIY network have improved it’s value, only because of its appearance on the magic tv box.
While I have not gone into the house, I have seen many many photos on social media. Photos of the removed plaster—“exposed brick is so chic” (such an embarrassment to any self-respecting Victorian or Edwardian person), removed walls, added track lighting, white painted wood panelling and trim, and other colonial revival and urban loft stylings. The exterior trim was painted glossy black and bleached out super brilliant white to “modernize” the ugly old house. The crowds cheer each time a new Facebook post is added touting a new product, or wondering what color the kitchen will be when the owners return home from work.
I am embarrassed by the cult of this house. DIY has hoisted upon the irresponsible owners and into the lovely old home every one of their advertisers’ products that they possibly can. Nothing has been done in the house without consideration of the sales potential of an added light fixture, pillow fabric or wire crate to hold bottles of label-less potions in the bathroom. DIY found in this home and it’s new owners, a stage and dupes who granted them a conduit to sell products that their advertisers manufacture.
The same holds true for HGTV and the “open concept” floor plan. Nothing is done without consideration of the potential to make a buck. Old houses are dying in droves to make money for tv producers, advertisers (of useless or trashy products and copper coated cookware), and other crummy get-rich-quick schemers. I am sad for old houses and am doing everything in my power to counter this effort by volunteering to help my neighbors with things in their old homes, all the while preaching the gospel of saving old wood windows and painting homes appropriate colors (please people, no more damned hubba-hubba purple trim.) I continually educate myself on the correctness and appropriateness of old house style and substance and gently persuade others to do the same. Please consider being the voice of reason and responsibility in your little space. It’s thankless and tiresome—but seeing an old house shine with the light of new owners’ respect for it, well, that’s my reward.
Hmmm, the “open concept” kitchen was probably the first design, (think cave man) and has been in and out of functional fashion ever since. In America, one room living was a main stay of early pioneers. Then there is the stick built southern homes of the antebellum period which had the kitchen totally seperate from the house in its own special room/house. You really can’t base the argument against the open concept kitchen on “it’s modern or new” and has no place with the old. What I think the question should be is, do you want to keep the historical integrity and beauty of the home? If the answer is yes (assuming there is an original functional kitchen). Believe it or not, i know of a couple who own a 1700’s home and their kitchen consists of a huge cooking fireplace And a spring out back! Think about that for a moment.
John Elsner says
I am so glad I read this article and the thoughtful comments. I have a 1908 cottage and we are going to redo the kitchen. I had toyed with the idea of “opening up” the kitchen/dining room. (I was going to do a cased arch, with matching woodwork, between the two rooms).
But, no. Ain’t gonna happen! FU HGTV!
While an open concept layout can be nice for occasional entertaining, I agree with this article as well. After living in two open concept homes, I miss having walls! You can decorate walls, they provide insulation from noise, and they provide privacy. The only privacy in an open concept home is in a bedroom or bathroom. You can hear anything from any room, and there is nowhere quiet to go to “get away” and study, pay bills, have a private conversation, etc. Sometimes in new two level homes, the second level has only a half wall so you can hear everything that is going on upstairs too. Many homes do not have halls either, but bedrooms open right into the living area.
I also miss having an enclosed dining room for family meals. Even clotheslines are no longer allowed in most newer neighborhoods. Victorian architect Alexander Jackson Davis, said, “A house should have nooks and crannies about, where one would love to linger….” Frank Lloyd Wright knew that architecture had a strong effect on the mind, for he said that he could design a house that could cause a divorce in a matter of weeks. Even life in general has become “open-concept” through social media sites, with privacy quickly becoming a thing of the past. (Of course, we can choose not to participate in that.) I hope this trend will soon be on it’s way out of style!
I have an old and very small home. It is beautiful in its own way. But, I do believe that it could benefit from being opened up. Perhaps, it does not need a drastic teardown of walls. But, I can’t help but think that the tiny kitchen could extend into the dining room and create a more usable space. I do like having a separate living room. But, I don’t see lot of need for a separate dining room where the separation simply means that I have two small rooms rather than a nice size eat in kitchen. Also, the small bathroom takes a fair amount out of the existing kitchen space. I think it was a major upgrade from the original outhouse some time in the 1920s. I’m trying to find a way to maximize usable space without actually adding on to the house.
Anyway, I’m saying that while open design might not be a cure all or even desired for every house. It is not necessarily a bad idea in every case, either.
Ken Roginski says
It is a bad idea if your are altering a historic house like yours.
Taren Yelle says
Ok, I’ll say it: I love open concept layouts! But I also love traditional homes. For me it’s all about context.
I grew up and imprinted on an old New England Victorian home my young parents rented: four stories, parlor, dining room, sitting room, grand staircase and foyer, chandeliers throughout, and a narrow servant’s stairway off the kitchen which led to my bedroom. Stunning! But rundown and neglected for years, and after my family moved, the owner tore it down. It’s a parking lot now.
More recently, I was head-over-heels in love with a huge reclaimed 1500 square foot loft apartment in an old mill building, where the main living areas were concentrated in the front quarter – a small but efficient (if uninspired) linear kitchen in which I placed an island overlooking the dining area, and a living room perpendicular in the front. I spaced everything well, so there was sufficient room between the dining chair and the island stool… the place was gorgeous and comfortable, and lent itself well to entertaining. The back portion was a huge empty space where I put an additional table, an office space, my baby grand, recording and stage equipment and used it as a performance space… awesome!
Interestingly, I made a change later that completely changed the feel of the space, and it didn’t work at all – I moved the bed from a half enclosed space next to the kitchen (which is why I moved it) to the back wall of the huge space, and it felt awful. Didn’t realize right away, but after a while I found I wasn’t sleeping as well and I didn’t feel as attached to the place anymore… funny how a seemingly minor act of repositioning furniture made such an enormous difference to the feeling of the home.
Now I’ve just purchased a small, hand-built home in a fishing village in Nova Scotia. The place is awkwardly laid out at best, with two wood stoves and chimneys, one of which goes up through the middle of a bedroom. Fridge stuck out in the middle of the kitchen, sheet linoleum and rubber backed crooked floors, veneer paneling throughout… yikes! My first thought admittedly was to tear out the old cabinets and central wall and make room for my piano and dining table.
After I started looking closer, I realized that while far from ideal, I kind of love the idea of working with the essence of the space as it is. I can replace the floors, expose the drywall behind the paneling, refinish the beautiful stairs and get new appliances, and maybe convert the laundry cubby to a fridge pantry… there’ll still be no room for my dining room, but maybe that’s a future room addition on this small home. In the meantime, the kitchen will be the kitchen, with its hand-made custom cabinets and a breakfast nook, and the baby grand will share space in the living room. A point many of you have made is that the areas call be painted and decorated differently, as befits the use of the rooms.
My point, I guess, is that I am seeing the beauty in letting the individual space make its personality known. Perhaps some places are awesome for open concept like my urban industrial loft, and perhaps my weird little fisherman’s cottage will be lovely, if small. It’s all about the life we want to live in our homes. That should come first, and the design should follow.
I totally agree! I live in a home built in 1951, and I love having a door separating my kitchen and living room. Sometimes it’s open, and sometimes it’s closed, like when I’m cleaning the kitchen after dinner, listening to music while the rest of the family is in the living room watching TV. I wouldn’t want it any other way! It just wouldn’t be possible with an open concept. Someone would have to give up what they are enjoying so as not to disturb the other. We are building a new home soon, and I ended up drawing my own plan due to the lack of floor plans available on the internet that are not open concept. There will be a large sliding barn door to separate kitchen from family room so I will choose whether I want to be part of what’s going on in the family room or if I want to crank up my music and have a dance party in my kitchen.
Hannah Gill says
I absolutely hate open concept floor plans. They look beautiful but when you’re actually living there it’s awful. At least for me. The main problem is noise. You can’t have a conversation in the kitchen while people are using the tv. Not to mention not wanting the cats, dogs, or people walking through the kitchen while you cook. I grew up in home where you could close the kitchen off and I am now on a desperate search for a similar home of my own.
I agree with Hannah Gill. Hate open floor plans with a capital H. I’ve lived with one now for 10 years, and I’ve learned my lesson. It’s utterly impractical, particularly for someone like me that LOVES to cook, but would prefer the entire house not smell like dinner for 2 days. You can’t ever leave a mess in the kitchen, it’s noisy, and when guests walk into our home, they see ALL our living area so forget actually LIVING in here like normal people leaving a mess now and then.
I miss the days when the kitchen was the hub of the home, when we all came together over food and piled in the kitchen as a mob to get the meal done. It was fun and focused… No distractions… no TV blaring in the same room or other stuff going on to pull people away from the activity of cooking. On top of that, when you walk into an open floor plan, it’s hard to decide where the eye should go as there’s so much going on in one room. Sometimes, there are multiple seating areas, which just strikes me as plain wasteful and silly. How could I truly need to separate seating areas with two sets of furniture in the same room?
Add to that the fact that with one big stupid open room, you have to stick with one kind of decor. Another poster made that point, and I agree. I may want gray walls in my living room … so if I have an open floor plan, that must carry over into all other areas of that one big room. I would prefer every room of my home having a little something different to offer.
Sometimes I’m concerned that my disdain for this type of house design is truly irrational – I just hate it so much. And it’s so frustrating looking for a house right now because 99 percent of what we’ve seen has this dumb, stupid, ridiculous floor plan and the sales agents all launch into their sales pitch with, “Our builder has designed this lovely open plan that flows nicely throughout the house…”, and I’m like, “Blah, blah, blah… and NO IT DOES NOT. It limits me as a home owner —- and I want my life to makes sense again —– so please stop!”
We’ll probably have to build our own in order to do it RIGHT.
Thanks for letting me rant.
Karen Tani says
I’m so happy I stumbled upon this site. I’m so frustrated. Thirty years ago my then husband and I moved to a new development and designed and had built a beautiful spacious home with separate kitchen, dining room, and breakfast nook. We also had a formal sitting area where we had the piano, and another larger separate living area which was used for TV. It was full of color with beautiful wallpaper, glass door cabinetry in the kitchen, gorgeous coffered ceilings throughout, and a catwalk across the second floor looking down into the entry and large living room. My parents followed and also designed and built a beautiful home with some similar features to mine. My parents are now gone and I will shortly be putting their home up for sale. My realtor is very positive about being able to sell it, but that’s because it’s a very hot seller’s market right now. All the new model homes have the cookie cutter open plan with granite, stainless, yada yada. I used to love browsing model homes but now I can’t stand it so I don’t go at all. I sold my own home years ago. It was bought by a young (millenial) dentist and his wife who graciously showed me around when I passed by and knocked on their door to welcome them. When I pass by now, I can see through the kitchen window that they have knocked down a wall in the kitchen out to the living room. It looks horrible and I hate to say that because they are such nice people. I am not at all a hateful person, but this trend has me boiling. Even the thought of a bunch of people standing in the kitchen corner of the cave sipping wine and chatting about the next destination wedding makes me shake. To each his own I say, but with everyone “updating” their homes, there is a dwindling supply of homes with gracious floor plans. My kids grew up and I was divorced so I had downsized years earlier after having lived for a long while in a beautiful large home in the country subsequent to selling the original home we had built. My current house is also 30 years old, in the same area as my former home and my parents’ home. I wanted to sell it and in the process remove the horrible tile and carpet that I had hated from the getgo. My realtor suggested that I could get more for the house if it was “updated” so I did the granite thing, put down wood tile and painted everything a bland shade of white. I have to say it is more functional but it is now so cookie cutter that it has lost its charm, though the light paint really makes the living room look light and airy, so it’s not all bad. I wasn’t able to put it on the market but I am retired now and intend to look for a little old farmhouse in the country that I can restore to its original charm. Fortunately my partner is also retired and he loves the same thing. I guess it’s just the age. I am almost in tears right now thinking that we are losing the charm and graciousness of the homes I grew up in. Hopefully this fad goes away soon, though the builders and realtors will be devastated if it does. Too bad I say.
Ken Roginski says
Wow – yes it’s sad when you take care of a home and someone else influenced by current marketing destroys the character.
I absolutely hate open concept. It can be an intrusion to privacy. Not every person visiting is a guest you want in your kitchen. I love entertaining but honestly prefer to serve guests without people in the food prep area. It sometimes looks cluttered and quite like an “affordable option”. It is definitely a fad that got out of hand and impacts decorating.
Deb McEv says
Count me in as an “Open Concept” hater. We live in an 1871 cottage blessed with a large airy living room and dining room and a small, separate kitchen. I really dislike having people in the kitchen when we’re entertaining (unless it’s my husband of course!) and our guests are always happy to linger in the dining room or living room. They don’t seem to feel any urge to follow me into the kitchen.
Some pet peeves about HGTV shows and current “trends”.
One, when renovating the kitchen they toss out perfectly serviceable cabinets instead of repainting or even re-facing them. Such a waste of money and material!
Secondly, I don’t understand why so many young couples looking at houses get so excited over finished basements that are “great for entertaining”. I’d be insulted if I was invited to someone’s house and then shown into the basement. Am I not good enough for the upstairs living room? LOL
Thirdly (again mostly young couples) don’t want “formal dining rooms”. So, when they have dinner guests they either eat off their knees in the living room or huddle round the enormous island? I just don’t get it .
Fourthly (OK I’ll stop soon), does everybody have to have an island? I’m tired of looking at them. If there’s room, an old harvest/farmhouse table would look so much nicer and provide extra working space as well as a place to sit.
Fifthly (last one I promise) – leave the old windows in! When we moved into our house my husband and a contractor wanted to replace all the “old drafty” windows. I put my foot down and won that argument. Instead we have had the windows and their perfectly fitted original storms restored. When the storms are on there is no draft at all and we get cold snowy winters up here in Ontario.
I could go on and on and on but I’ll just leave it at that. It feels good to vent with like-minded people!
Ken Roginski says
Quick story that came to mind. My grandmother went to visit a friend who entertained her in the basement instead of the living room. On the way down the steps the woman dropped the tray of coffee and it went all over the place. My grandmother always said – good for her – that’s what she gets for bringing me in the basement!
Haha, love this story! Thanks for sharing, too funny!
I HATE the open floor plan too! We prefer new construction and we are having a difficult time finding a new home with the traditional floor plan, even the older ones have the open concept. If you are a builder reading this, please start building traditional homes with walls to separate the rooms. Everyone does not entertain and prefer larger kitchens with cabinets on both sides of the kitchen with a walk in pantry. Please put in more counter space and make pot fillers standard. What is the deal with the wrought iron rails or banisters where you can lean over and look down onto the lower level. I feel like these are a disaster waiting to happen not to mention the noise pollution traveling throughout the home. Deep stainless steel double sinks are a must as well so you can fill one side with dish soap and water for handwashing dishes and the other side for rinsing. Open Concept homes look like one big warehouse room with small areas designated for the kitchen, breakfast, and hearth still looking like something is missing. Character !!!
Ken Roginski says
You tell them!
My main reason to dislike open kitchens is simple. I have a Labrador who loves food. He is always rummaging thru the trash and counter-surfing. It is impossible to keep him out of the kitchen in an open concept floorplan unless I put up a series of very impractical babygates. It’s easier to just close the door in closed kitchens or put up only 1 or 2 babygates in semi-open kitchens. I miss my old house that had a semi-open kitchen; I just put up one of walk-thru babygate to keep the dog out of the kitchen. My current kitchen is more open in the center of house, and there is absolutely no way to keep the dog out of it. He, of course, loves this kitchen! I didn’t think it would be this hard with him when I bought the house, but now I wish I went for something else.
I looked for years to find a floor plan which would meet our needs. One of those needs is a closed kitchen. I grew up on a farm in a farm house. We bought some land and I want a farm house. The new floor plans they call farm house plans would never work on a farm. I grew up in a real farm house that was full of kids, cats, dogs, pet guinea pigs, rabbits and parakeets. When a baby goat or lamb needed some extra care they were in the kitchen by the wood cook stove in a cardboard box until they were healthy enough to go outside. Once we even had a sick new born calf in the bathtub for a couple days. Another time just for fun my grandpa carried in a new born shetland pony so my grandma could pet it and we let it wander around the house for a few minutes. Yep, those were the days and that was a farm house. It had a closed kitchen with a big round table in the middle of the room. When my grandma was cooking she chased everyone, including the dogs and cats out and shut the door. That’s what I want. I don’t want to be measuring ingredients and get interrupted every 2 seconds and loose count of how much of what I have added or maybe forget and not add something. I want my space while I cook. I want to shut the door and let the riot continue without me. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. When I’m done I want to walk out of the kitchen and join the family. I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day, every day and with an open floor plan a person is stuck in the kitchen forever. I don’t want company to come over and see the mess I just made while baking bread or something. The only thing I hate worse than an open floor plan is an open floor plan on a split level home with the kitchen upstairs. Then every gallon of milk and loaf of bread has to be lugged up stairs. I’m in Alaska and there are tons of split level homes here. And they use that cheap T1-11 siding that always looks like it needs painted. I saw a horse kick a hole in that once and then it just backed out through the hole it made in the side of the barn. So you don’t even want to use that on a barn. I want a kitchen with room for a wood stove, empty wall space for actual kitchen furniture like my old bakers cabinet and maybe a spot for a highchair in the corner or maybe a box with a baby goat in it, maybe enough empty wall space next to the wood stove to toss down an armload or two of fire wood and room for a table and chairs. And I don’t want a tiny pantry closet. I want a pantry room, with room for a couple freezers because it’s a ways to get to town and I need lots of cabinets for appliances and stuff. Because I have kitchen stuff that I don’t use everyday but that I want and use sometimes. Like the electric griddle and food dryer. And because I don’t drive 70 miles one way to go grocery shopping every day. I want a farm house that’s a real farmhouse and I want a closed kitchen with a door. I’m even thinking it might be good to have a lock on that door. oh yeah
The first time that I entered a house with an open plan I couldn’t understand why the kitchen was in the living room. Also, from pre teen onwards, parents and children like to entertain their friends in privacy in spaces other than bedrooms and you cannot do that in open concept. This thing about sight lines so that every member of the family can see and hear every other member of a family all of the time? Must be tiresome.
As a professional cook, privacy, peace and quiet in the kitchen is a must for me. Therefore open concept kitchen doesn’t work for me at all. Also, in open concept kitchens, the smells from cooking go all over the house and particles of the oils being cooked with are released into the air and can permeate fabric on furniture and adhere to the walls. Over time the buildup of oils can result in a gummy coating on the walls etc.
Ken Roginski says
good point about the oils on the walls!
I’m not into open concept because it’s a fad, I just don’t like the compartmentalization. My wife and I like to talk and having the divisions and smaller spaces. The social element and just being able to enjoy the communication while in the kitchen and living area are good. As long as there are places in the house to retreat to. Pros of open floor plans are: Better traffic flow, improved sociability and communication, shared light, improved real estate value, easier to watch kids, layout flexibility, and multifunction spaces. Cons of open floor plans are: costly to heat and cool, higher construction cost, poor sound control, spaces can appear cluttered and lack of privacy. All that said, I just like open and spacious personally.
Tarzana, CA says
About ready to list my Los Angeles Home built in 1987 this month, 1-2020 I love, love, love my kitchen, with 3 solid walls of Cabinets and a lovely large window view above my sink of trees and nature . The wall separating the living room, is two feet width of deep thick wood cabinets, refrigerator, to soundproof and keep kitchen odors, smoke, clanging sounds of pots and pans, running water, noisy dishwasher, etc where it belongs, contained in the kitchen. I do not want my sink and messy counters viewed from the living room. The approximate six foot entry opening is offset to the opposite side where the dining table is. Most importantly, I have walls, outlets, quiet, and don’t want to hear the T.V or noisey chatter in the living room. I will be buying in another State, Nevada, Utah, still undecided, but what i’ve seen, new or even 10 year old homes have a vulgar, repellent, warehouse square big box design. One or Two short walls of strange looking oddly placed cabinets seem out of place and apartment like. The staged homes make me laugh, cry, then groan in pain. I see massive center islands with seating for ten people, a only two feet away, a large rectangular dining table with chairs back to back with the counter chairs,, then a few sofas two feet between, the dining table. NO Walls!!! Cheap and a larger apartment scheme, same concept, or a messy furniture storeroom appearance.. This horror benefits keeping builder costs way, too low, and cheating the new buyer out of a complete home, its’ “Unfinished” without a proper kitchen personality. I do not want a oversized studio apartment, with a kitchen sink in my living room. Being single, and 60’s, no kids, why do builders think all retired folks need to “entertain” groups of 50 people every week? Even the over 50 communities are built to have weekly wedding parties of 50 folks. When I buy the new home, I will insist they take off enough for failing to construct a kitchen real room, no outlets or wall of cabinets. This warehouse hollowness gives me the heeby jeebies, anxiety without separation, peace, coziness and creating different personalities in the rooms. The offensive “Open” no wall cheaply made homes make me feel like a insect, under a magnifying glass, nowhere to run, or feel cozy, warm, comfortable.The vast airport noisey scheme, with cafeteria and sofas feet of each other is not for me. A builder will have to create a nice soundproof, quality studded wall, with electric outlets, so there can be lovely art hung on the other side , with cabinets, and bookcases where they have a place to fit in nicely.
Ken Roginski says
Thanks for you post!