The first house my husband and I owned together was a modest, 1,700-square-foot colonial with a closed-off kitchen, living room, and dining room that made that space seem smaller than it actually was. When we made the decision to purchase a larger home, one thing I had my heart set on was an open floor plan. I really liked the idea of having different rooms flow into each other, uninhibited by walls.
Sure enough, our current home does indeed feature an open floor plan. Our kitchen flows nicely into our living room, which then opens into our smaller family room. It's a nice setup -- most of the time. But it's also not perfect.
To start, here's what I love about it:
1. So much light
I'm thankful for the fact that my home has a lot of windows that let in natural light, and without a lot of walls, that light manages to hit the downstairs rooms in all the right places. On a clear day, it's usually not necessary for me to flip on a light switch at all.
2. A roomier impression
People who walk into my house tend to comment on how large it is. In reality, it's not an overly large home for my area, but my open floor plan gives a more spacious impression. Seeing as how I have three kids at home, that really helps me avoid feeling cramped.
3. Easier child management
Back when my kids were younger, I'd set them up with toys in our living room or family room knowing I could prepare meals in the kitchen while keeping an eye on them. These days, my kids are old enough that they don't need that constant supervision, but having an open floor plan still makes it easier to observe and break up arguments that take place in other parts of the house as needed.
But here's what I don't like about my open floor plan.
1. So much noise
Even when my children aren't fighting or doing anything wrong, they're just plain loud. And a lack of walls somehow makes that noise all the more pronounced.
2. Higher utility bills
In addition to having an open floor plan, my house also has a two-story living room. As such, it's hard to heat our home efficiently during the winter, and it's hard to keep cool air where we need it during the summer. Though my current home certainly isn't twice the size of my old home, our utility bills are generally double what they used to be despite having newer (and, supposedly, more energy-efficient) HVAC systems. I attribute that to our open floor plan.
3. Kitchen smells that travel
My husband and I both enjoy cooking, but sometimes, the smells that come out of our kitchen (think fried onions) can be overwhelming. That's problematic when one of us is cooking and the rest of us are trying to enjoy a movie or game in the living room nearby. The absence of walls sends those smells flowing right under everyone's noses.
Let's be clear: Despite the drawbacks, I wouldn't trade my open floor plan for a more closed-off home. But if you're in the market for a new home and are considering an open floor plan, know what the cons look like and then make your final decision.