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Throughout 2018, we have heard some pretty lively discussion about open-concept vs. closed-concept home design. While each philosophy definitely has its pros and cons, ultimately, it is for you to decide what’s going to work best for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Open-concept pros and cons

Open-concept design has been preferred by many homeowners since the 1960s and we see it both in new home designs as well as older homes that have been remodeled.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, 84 percent of new builds feature either a fully open or partially open-concept floor plan.

open concept kitchen and living room

Let’s weigh the arguments:

Open concept pros

  • Make you feel like you’re in a larger space
  • Give you better visibility through all of your rooms
  • Provides safety when looking after children, pets or elders
  • Extends and streamlines your interior design throughout the home
  • Ideal for socializing and entertaining
  • Less need for artificial light
  • More modern design
  • Better accessibility for those with mobility issues
  • Flexible spaces can be reconfigured to suit changing needs
  • You can eliminate underused spaces by incorporating them into a larger floor plan
  • Open-concept floor plans are more desirable, potentially improving resale value

Open concept cons

  • Lack of privacy
  • The kitchen is open to the rest of the home and can be disruptive to certain activities
  • Cooking smells permeate all the living spaces
  • Less formal
  • Much noisier, in general
  • A mess is more difficult to hide
  • Large open spaces are more difficult to cool and heat

Despite the obvious drawbacks of an open plan in terms of privacy, you could opt for a partially open space—say, with half-walls—that adds some separation. So the room with the television, for example, doesn’t have to be in the thick of things.

Structural concerns

If you are considering a remodel to open up your floor plan, be sure to consider your load-bearing walls. Removing a load-bearing wall could add a significant expense. There may also be pipes and ducts located within the wall that need to be relocated as well.

If this is the case, there would need to be some engineering to be done as it will change the way the home’s systems function. You may be on the hook for additional costs or have to sacrifice efficiency or comfort to obtain the open-concept look and functionality you want.

Closed-concept floor plans: sometimes the “old way” is better!

Having a closed-concept floor plan was the old-school way to separate yourself from whatever your spouse or your kids are getting up to. While you may not have considered it too much, closed-concept is enjoying a bit of a resurgence.

open concept kitchen and living room

Closed-concept pros:

  • More privacy and autonomy for all members of the household
  • Good for live-work situations or households with growing kids
  • You can have a different interior design, different paint colors in each room
  • More design options to choose from as not every detail needs to match
  • Cozier rooms
  • Better noise control
  • Limit cooking smells to the kitchen area
  • May lower your energy bills as you can zone-heat
  • Easier to maintain more frequently used spaces
  • More formal dining and entertaining

Closed-concept cons:

  • Less natural light than with open-concept plans
  • Rooms may seem cramped
  • The house may feel smaller than it really is
  • Lack of sight lines into family living areas
  • Takes longer to clean going from room to room
  • Less flexibility in terms of furniture groupings and size
  • Less accessible, which could be a consideration for aging-in-place
  • Potentially lower resale value, although there is no easy way to predict trends

Wrapping up

In conclusion, we see many new homeowners on the Main Line choosing to open up closed-concept floor plans in a historic home. The decision to go ahead with a project of this magnitude can prove highly beneficial, improving your lifestyle and potentially adding resale value to the home.

However, if the home has an existing closed-concept floor plan, it bears some consideration in terms of the extent and expense that will be required for the transformation. Load-bearing walls, ductwork, plumbing, and so on may need to be relocated, which oftentimes is a complex and costly endeavor.

Some of our clients, after considering the pros and cons of open vs. closed-concept floor plans, choose to stay with the closed-concept design as it offers superior value in terms of privacy and more formal living, something you simply can’t achieve with an open-concept.

Do you have a home renovation project you would like to explore? Schedule a conversation today; we’d love to show you what’s possible.

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