They're Still Cool - Open Concept Kitchen, Dining and Living Rooms

An Open Concept Kitchen Is One Of The Most Popular Remodeling Trends

Today, if you turn on almost any home-design show on HGTV or DIY chances are you'll hear something about “open concept.”
Open concept is a HUGE trend. It's all about tearing down walls to open up your space to create a living/dining/kitchen area while improving the flow of the home and often the sight lines from front to back. Open concept designs maximize natural light, create a feeling of spaciousness even for a smaller home, and can create a wonderful space for entertaining.

Many homeowners, especially those that favor “older homes” still enjoy separate rooms. But if you're ready to take a sledgehammer to your traditional floor plan, here's a little history of open concept design, along with some pros and cons of creating an open floor plan!

Open Concept Design – A Little History

From the turn of the century until the 1940's homes were compartmentalized. They were built with the understanding that each room had a purpose. Victorian homes had a formal parlor for entertaining guests. The kitchen was often separated from the “living area” of the house, usually with a door. Dining rooms were vast and formal, and the living room was where the men retired for cocktails and cigars after dinner.

In the 1950's and 60's that changed as home builders saw the open living plan as “modern” and a way to efficiently design a home using less square footage. The most popular homes during that time were the Ranch style and split level.

Today, designers have embraced open concept living, partially for economic considerations (less square footage means lower build costs) but they're also are influenced by cultural norms and a desire for convenience. Homeowners love the openness and flow of open living, that's why loft style condominiums in urban areas are so popular.

The Pros of Open Concept Homes

Open concept living offers homeowners many advantages and benefits. First, it can make any space feel larger and brighter. No walls mean you can benefit from natural light. Some homeowners even go so far as to add a wall of windows or a passage way, like French doors leading to the backyard.

By removing walls, even a small apartment with a tiny windowless kitchen off the living room can be transformed into an airy, light filled space by replacing the wall with an island or table. Entertaining becomes easier and more enjoyable with an open flow kitchen/living area. You can chat with your guests while you cook. Kitchen islands usually are a way to demarcate space in an open concept, but when you're entertaining, they become a focal point for food and drink.

A large open space is also ideal for keeping an eye on the kids. You can comfortably cook dinner, or take care of other household tasks while still interacting with your little ones. In fact, placing a desk and computer against the wall or the back of the sofa can make the room homework friendly and even more multifunctional!

A Few Challenges...

A great as having a large open space is, there are a few drawbacks and difficulties as well. Of course, some privacy is lost when you take down walls and join multiple spaces. For example, talking on the phone while the kids are watching TV can be tricky. Fewer walls mean less space for hanging your treasured artwork and family photographs. It also means fewer electrical outlets as well. Concealing wires in an open space can be a challenge.

Finally, if you can't deal with seeing a mess, open concept living might be a challenge unless you live alone or the kids are well trained. Toy chaos or a mess in the kitchen are all easily seen in an open concept. Make sure you plan proper storage to minimize the mess.

Some Final Tips

Even though the walls are gone, you'll still want to delineate your space from a design perspective. Carve out and define spaces using furniture, carpeting, and lighting. Anchor your dining area with a chandelier or define your space with a large ceiling fan in the living room area.

Maintain an aesthetic flow throughout the space. Fundamental design features like recessed lighting and flooring should be consistent. Use color palettes that compliment one another throughout the space and add layers of texture and different hues as accents.

Try creating a standout feature or focal point for each area. Hang an oversized chandelier in the living room, use a gallery wall in the dining area or try a marble waterfall countertop on the kitchen island. Experiment, have fun and give each space its own personality.

Open concept living offers homeowners an efficient use of space, plenty of design possibilities and brighter living areas. If you're considering opening up your home's floor plan, give us a call and let us show you the possibilities!

About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.