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3 reasons for and against open plan homes.

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

If you follow our blog, you may have noticed that we have recently published a post including photos of an open-plan ground floor for a building in Milton Keynes, which the client has separated into different living areas.

There is an ongoing difference in opinion in the open plan vs. separated rooms argument. So we will explore some of the pros and cons of both, but this will be in no way a definitive list, there may be many other points that we have not touched upon in this post. Feel free to add any thoughts and opinions in the comments.

We come across a lot of clients who say that they would like an open-plan home to live in and that they like the architectural plans on paper. But later on down the line, some realise that while they like the idea of an open-plan home, it is more idealistic and not as practical as they initially thought for their household.

Reasons for calling the open plan homes ‘the idealistic view’ vary, but below are just a few of those reasons.

Open-plan homes are a great way to make cooking and cleaning a more social activity. It allows people to converse with each other whilst doing different things in separate areas of the house. One person could be cleaning the kitchen and having a conversation with someone else in the living room without the need to shout through rooms. When you have a closed-plan home and you are in a different room from everyone else, you can sometimes feel a bit secluded if you are on your own.

They can also be much better for watching children whilst getting other things done, rather than juggling rooms to keep an eye on kids whilst getting chores done. If you need to watch your children in the living room but need to hoover the dining room at the same time, then you have to juggle a bit in a closed-plan home. In an open floor plan, you can just look across the house to see if everything is okay. But bear in mind, if you can see them, they can see you too!

Open-plan homes are a great way to allow light into your home as any architect will tell you. Due to the lack of walls, there is only furniture to obstruct the light which is travelling into your home. You can even use dividers rather than walls to separate the area into areas, still the open plan but with its own areas. An example of a divider could be a bookcase in the place of a wall.

So an open-plan floor sounds good, but here are some of the realities to think about if you are considering an open-plan home.

Is your family messy? If the answer to this is yes, and you don’t like people seeing your mess, then I’m afraid to say that an open-plan home may not be for you. One of the best things about the open plan is also one of its biggest downfalls; anyone who comes into your home can see everything as soon as they step through the front door in an open plan home. This can be troublesome if you or your family have left anything lying around in the living room, as it can be spotted immediately when you have anyone around. For example, if you leave any pots, pans or dishes in the kitchen whilst you have dinner, everyone at the dinner table will see it, and there aren’t any walls to temporarily hide the mess their meal created.

Are your family loud? If again, the answer is yes then maybe you should rethink this idea of an open floor plan. Noise travels, so when you’re trying to quietly get on with work in your home office, or get some homework done in the study area, people watching a movie on the other side of the house will be a huge distraction because you will hear every word being said, every explosion and every step. Imagine if you’re trying to have a private conversation on the phone, we would usually go into a separate room and shut the door. If you’re in an open-plan home then you can forget that because there are no rooms to go into, or doors to shut unless you fancy taking a walk outside which is not always ideal.

Although open-plan homes are good for easily having conversations from different areas of the house, some of us like to have a bit of ‘me time’ included in our days. We like to have a space we can go to and just relax, hang out and do our own thing with no distractions. It’s difficult to have that in an open-plan home. If you are keen on art and have a lot to hang up then be sure to get a large house if you’re opting for an open plan. The wall space is substantially low compared to the closed plan.

What are your thoughts? Which would you choose?

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

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