15 Reasons to Think Twice About an Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans have dominated modern home design since they first appeared in the 1950s as part of the overall trend toward more contemporary styling. Open concept homes skyrocketed in popularity in the 1970s, and by the mid-'90s nearly all new construction incorporated some version of an open floor plan or great room. But after nearly half a century of ascendancy, open concept living has been losing ground as buyers turn to cozier, more energy-efficient houses. Here are just a few reasons you may want to pass on that open floor plan.

  1. Expensive to Build

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    Expensive to Build

    Open floor plans don’t have interior walls for support, and therefore the supporting beams have to be heavier or made of steel, which can increase the overall construction cost.

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  2. Less Privacy

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    Less Privacy

    With an open floor plan, whether you’re in the living room, kitchen, or dining room, everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Privacy becomes a rare commodity when every nook and cranny is within someone's sight line. 

    Related: The Best 10 Plants to Grow for Backyard Privacy

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  3. Cooking in Full View

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    Cooking in Full View

    Some people may consider cooking to be a spectator sport, but most prefer to do their food prep out of view of their guests. Whether it’s making last-minute adjustments to seasoning or wiping down the edges of the plates before serving, most cooks have their little idiosyncrasies that are better performed in private.

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  4. Food Odors

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    Food Odors

    You may love the aroma of ginger and cumin while you’re whipping up a batch of tikka masala, but you probably don't want those smells settling into your sofa upholstery. And no one likes to be reminded of last Friday’s fried fish!

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  5. More Work in the Kitchen

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    More Work in the Kitchen

    Open concept kitchens are typically less efficient for cooking. The sprawling design makes the cook take more steps to get from the fridge to the food prep area, and more again from the prep area to the stove, which means that cooking becomes a little more difficult and time-consuming.

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  6. Access to Kitchen Hazards

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    Access to Kitchen Hazards

    One argument often used in defense of the open floor plan is that it allows parents to prepare meals and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. Open plans also, however, make kitchen appliances, scalding water, and scorching-hot pots and pans much more accessible—and dangerous—to children. 

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  7. More Visible Messes

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    More Visible Messes

    You may not always feel like doing the dishes right after a big family meal or a blow-out bash with friends. But with an open-plan design, all of those dirty dishes, grimy glassware, and stale crackers are right out there for everyone to see until you get around to cleaning up and putting everything away.

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  8. Noise Levels

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    Noise Levels

    The acoustics in an open floor plan can be a real nightmare. Sounds from the kitchen—the dishwasher, blender, and food processor—invariably spill over and intrude on the television or stereo in the living area.

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  9. Cold, Not Cozy

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    Cold, Not Cozy

    Huge open spaces can be cavernous and cold, more reminiscent of a gymnasium than a home. In fact, the open floor plan is practically the opposite of cozy.

    Related: 14 Paint Colors That Can Make a Room Feel Instantly Cozy

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  10. Less Wall Space for Artwork

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    Less Wall Space for Artwork

    If you like to display paintings, photographs, or other artwork, you need wall space. Without interior walls, you have fewer places for wall hangings or other decor.

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  11. Less Storage Space

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    Less Storage Space

    Fewer walls also means that you have a lot less space for console tables, bookcases, or shelves, which translates into less overall storage space.

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  12. Less Energy Efficient

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    Less Energy Efficient

    Larger spaces are more costly to heat and cool, especially those with cathedral ceilings, which are featured in many open floor plans. As well, open floor plans cannot be split into HVAC zones, so you wind up paying to heat and cool the entire area rather than just the occupied spaces.

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  13. No Dedicated Rooms

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    No Dedicated Rooms

    Open floor plans don’t allow for specific, dedicated spaces for favorite hobbies or pastimes like crafts, sewing, woodworking, or reading.

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  14. Thoroughly Modern

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    Thoroughly Modern

    The open floor plan is a hallmark of contemporary architecture, so it doesn't really fit with traditional furniture and decor. If your tastes run to colonial, Victorian, or Georgian furnishings, skip the open concept.

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  15. Hard to Keep Clean

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    Hard to Keep Clean

    Open spaces are by definition open, so they are harder to keep clean. Messes are tracked from room to room, kids' toys seem to multiply to fill the available space, and pet hair goes everywhere. Individual rooms are easier and faster to clean, and they also have doors to control—and conceal—messes.

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  16. Room for Improvement

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    Room for Improvement

    Though it's got a lot of advantages, an open floor plan is not for everyone.

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  17. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!