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  • Stephanie Donnelly

Open Concept vs Closed Concept

It’s easy to see why open concept floor plans are popular. They can make a modest amount of square footage feel spacious, they improve foot traffic flow between rooms and they’re ideal for entertaining. While I love the idea of open concept design, it's not practical for every household as these designs have their drawbacks, too, such as decreased privacy and increased noise levels.

While open concept has been trending in recent years, some homeowners are starting to shift away from modern floor plans in favor of more traditional, closed off designs. A closed concept home has a traditional floor plan and layout that features multiple rooms or separated spaces enclosed by walls and doors. Essentially, each designated area of the home becomes its own separate space or room, including the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

Our list of pros and cons will help you decide if an open concept or a closed concept home is a good fit for you and your family.

Open Concept Pros

Beautiful Open Sight Lines

With no walls to block your view, the beauty of your whole home is on full display. Open concept living originally began changing the way homes are designed in order to highlight each space and to encourage indoor outdoor living. These thoughtful designs allowed one continuous design and flow from space to space to be the highlight of a home. Today's open floor plans are the perfection of this change in concept and can be visually stunning when done correctly.

Small Spaces Feel Larger

Open concept floor plans are excellent for creating space in a smaller home. Because there are not many walls to break up the flow of your space and divide it into separated rooms, you’ll have one large open area that looks bigger than it actually is. This not only allows people to move around more easily but makes your home feel more spacious.

This is probably one of the biggest problems that open concept living solves. Small spaces can feel so much smaller when they are divided by walls that separate one living space from another. By tearing down walls and opening up your rooms to each other, open concept can be a perfect solution to trick the eye into thinking that you have more space than you really do.

Great for Entertaining

No matter how well planned out a party is, a host knows that everyone always ends up in the kitchen. It makes sense! Your guests want to visit with you while they're in your home. An open layout makes this so much more sensible for hosts and guests alike. While you're setting up your charcuterie and mixing your signature drink, your guests can be at your buffet or on your couch and still be a part of the conversation with you. This is an excellent way to maintain a feeling of togetherness without everyone underfoot in your kitchen.

It's also a great way to be a part of the family. If you're in charge of making meals in your home, you might be very familiar with the feeling of isolation that comes with cooking responsibilities. While the rest of your family is watching a show, playing in the living room, or doing homework at the dining room table, you're stuck working in kitchen. You might miss out on conversations and family time simply because living spaces are cut off from each other. An open concept is a perfect solution to that problem.

Open Concept Cons

No Escape from Noise

While having more open space can be great for bringing families together, there can be times when everyone may want a bit of privacy. Privacy can be hard to come by without many walls, doors, or separated spaces. This is especially true for any family with young children as they know that sound travels, and with an open layout, sound will inevitably carry throughout the house.

Lack of Privacy

If your household is noisy when throughout the day, you may very well need some solitude in order to get work done. Open concept homes don't provide the privacy that is needed to accommodate these situations very well, and being together all the time comes to mean being together ALL the time. This is a big factor you need to consider for your home's design.

A Messy Room Is Always on Display

Let's be honest, kitchens can be the messiest part of your home. The work of making a meal is inherently chaotic. Bowls cover the countertops, pots and pans in various states of use left out and about, veggies and meats that need prepping, etc. Unless you're a master of clean-as-you-go, there invariably will be visual clutter in your kitchen at some point. An open concept layout can be visually messy if you don't keep up with the clutter collecting. If one area has a mess, the whole house typically feels like a mess.

Sometimes you want to hide away in the kitchen for a minute to catch your breath from that party that has had you working non-stop. Other times your kids' toys may have made their way into the living room, laptops are out from school or work, and mail and papers from your office pile up. This is true for any home, but with an open floor plan, there really isn't a good way to hide away or contain the mess.

Closed Concept Pros

Defined Boundaries and Purpose

A closed concept floor plan is cozier than an open layout. It serves as a private alcove where family members can unwind away from busy kitchens, dining areas, and living spaces. Having separate rooms (for example, a separate home office) means you can switch off from work and relax at home more easily. The more rooms you have, the more opportunities you have to create a specific purpose for each room. Specialty rooms such as home gyms, a study loft, and hangout space are just a few examples, and each of these spaces have the ability to change to better fit a new purpose as time goes on.

Flexible Room Styles

One of the biggest advantages of closed floor plans is the ability to control the design of your home better. Each room can offer its own layout, look, and feel without having to worry about the style of the room adjoining it. In a closed floor plan, each room can have an individual style, color, or theme. So, while your interior design may be cohesive throughout the entire home, not every detail needs to match, which provides more options and can make designing easier.

In an open concept home, it's important that the various rooms work together from a design standpoint. All spaces have to coordinate styles, and while this is good it can be limiting or stressful to make everything coherent, and you can't easily change items without the entire space needing to be redone. Having separate rooms gives you the opportunity to be really creative with your interior design. You can choose bold colors, standout wallpaper, or create a relaxing, simple environment. There is no need for matching paint or a coherent style across the whole layout, each room can have its own personal style.

Peace and Quiet

Another benefit of a closed concept home is that sound is contained within a particular room and tends to not travel as much throughout the house. This helps cut down on disturbing other family members. Walls and doors provide another layer of soundproofing for the home and give you more privacy than open concept floor plans. One advantage for closed concept floor plans is if you have guests over and only want to entertain them in a specific part in your home, it limits the sound that circulates throughout your space.

More Privacy

The number one pro of closed floor plans is that you get the privacy you need due to walls and doors throughout your home. Closed rooms in your home’s main areas that are separated by walls and doors help you to isolate the space if need be. By maintaining separate spaces, closed floor plans give homeowners an enhanced level of privacy and can create cozier rooms and a better at home feeling.

Hidden Messes

With a closed floor plan, it’s easy to hide clutter in less used rooms or put off cleaning up when life gets busy by simply shutting the door to any messes that you haven’t had time to clean yet. One room can have a huge mess in it, but it doesn't make the whole house feel like a mess. People are also less likely to spread their messes from one room to another when items are mainly kept in one area of your house. This makes it easier to clean, and a whole lot easier to hide the mess behind a closed door.

Closed Concept Cons

Smaller Spaces

Closed concept floor plans can start to feel a little cramped if you’re not careful. Things have a way of building up in each room and can lead to things looking messier than they are. This type of floor plan can also end up having wasted space with hallways as well.

Not the Best for Entertaining

Since closed concept floor plans are very separated, it's easy to feel cut off and disconnected from everyone else. The kitchen is typically the hot spot when it comes to preparation for hosting an event, and it's east to miss out on socializing in the entertainment areas of your home. There may be areas in your home that could get a little crowded, especially in an event with having guests over, and separate rooms make it harder to entertain.

Blocked Line of Sight

If you have children at home, it will be harder to watch over them. Whether you are in the kitchen or relaxing in the living room, you can't as easily keep an eye out for them. Closed floor plans reduce the line of sight across your house and make some rooms less accessible. This can lead to issues if you have pets, kids, or elderly relatives that you need to keep an eye on or help move around the house.

Think About What's Right for You

There are so many things to consider when choosing a floor plan. The secret is to make the best use of available space for how you live. If you know you aren’t using a secluded room enough, it might be time to open it up. If you live in a large house with plenty of room as it is, knocking down your walls might not be worth the effort. Our best advice is to take the time to think about how you can best use your home and the space it provides.

Our favorite approach to designing home layouts is by using a mixture of both open and closed concept plans in order to give you the best features of both. This way your family can enjoy being in the main living spaces together but still have a sense of privacy and not having to worry about disturbing each other. The best option is usually a combination of both. Rooms may open into one another but have a clearly defined dividing feature, and rooms that need privacy, such as offices, are separated with doors, even glass doors to keep the space feeling open is enough.

Truly consider why you want an open concept home beyond the current movement toward this style. If you really are "entertainers" and not just holiday only hosts, it could be for you. If your family loves each other but also loves their own privacy and escapes, a closed concept home may be the best fit for everyone. Either way, take all these factors into consideration before choosing a home layout that is going to be the best fit for you and your family.

Start a conversation with Stephanie today to gain a better understanding of what each layout will require so you can make an educated decision regarding what is best for your home!

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!


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