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Is an Open Floor Plan Right for You?

Open floor plans have exploded in popularity as families embrace a more casual, adaptable way of life. However, the pandemic saw a shift in how we use our homes. With many family members working or studying from home, private spaces became more appealing than open floor plans.
For most homeowners, the choice between a modern open floor plan and a traditional walled-off design comes down to personal preference and the pros and cons of each. If you are thinking of remodeling your home, the team at Big State Construction can walk you through remodeling options and help you understand the best layout for your lifestyle.


Benefits of an Open Floor Plan

Beyond its popularity, there are some benefits to open floor plan homes, especially for families or those who enjoy entertaining.
  • ● Conducive to Entertaining: More Space to Mingle – Open floor plan homes give guests more space to congregate and move around the same square footage without making them feel crowded. For instance, extra space in the kitchen allows the area to double as a serving area or bar.
  • ● Makes a Home Feel Larger – Small, closed-off rooms can feel claustrophobic. An open floor plan makes a room feel larger and creates new design opportunities, which benefits homes with limited square footage.
  • ● Sight Lines to Small Children: Perform Tasks While Watching Children – Open floor plans make it easier for families to monitor small children without leaving the room. For instance, a parent can cook in the kitchen while their children play in the family room nearby.
  • ● Adapt Space to Owner Needs: Adaptable for Accessibility Needs- Since open floor plans are flexible and easily reconfigured to suit the owner’s needs, they are ideal for homeowners with limited mobility or in wheelchairs. Open plans allow more space to maneuver and use mobility aids than closed plans.
If you need to design a home to accommodate a person with a disability, consider ADA rules and regulations to ensure you are compliant. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires 32” of space in doorways, halls, and walkways to make them wheelchair-accessible.


Things to Consider in an Open Floor Plan

If you are considering knocking down walls or moving into an open-plan home, there are some design elements you should consider.
  • ● Kitchen – The size and layout of your kitchen affect whether an open floor plan can work for your home. In most cases, you’ll need an L- or U-shaped kitchen layout to allow for a natural flow between the kitchen, dining, and living areas. You also need to consider if renovating your kitchen to create an open-plan space will leave you with enough storage. You may need to add a kitchen island or peninsula with cabinetry underneath to ensure adequate space to store kitchen items. Also, ensure that the kitchen and all adjacent zones have a cohesive aesthetic. You can achieve this by using a coordinating color scheme throughout the open-plan space.
  • ● TV Placement – In an open floor plan, placing your TV on a wall means the TV, chairs, and sofa will face away from the room’s central area. If you use your TV daily, you can make it the focal point of the room; however, it could disrupt the room’s design.
  • ● Lighting – Open spaces can be harder to illuminate correctly. Balanced, consistent lighting can require several solutions, from recessed lighting to standing floor lamps. Track lights and bright overhead lights can create a uniform look but may appear too sterile. Layered lighting like table and floor lamps can make the space feel cozier and help create defined zones throughout the open floor plan.
  • ● Furniture Placement – While a larger space gives you more room to organize your furniture, too much space can make a room feel empty, and a poor arrangement can interfere with the flow. Organize your furniture to create cozy spaces with a specific focal point and color scheme, and connect them with area rugs or runners in coordinating designs to manage foot traffic.


Disadvantages of an Open Floor Plan

While open floor plans are popular, they are only for some, and certain disadvantages can make them dealbreakers depending on your lifestyle.
  • ● No Privacy – The increased popularity of working and studying at home has revealed a flaw in open floor plans: a lack of privacy.
  • ● Noisy – Open floor plans broadcast noise, from TVs to cooking to children playing. This is typically due to large expanses of wall and glass windows bouncing and amplifying sound waves. If you have a loud family, work from home, or prefer peace and quiet, you may benefit from a traditional closed floor plan that muffles sound.
  • ● Energy Consumption – It takes more energy to heat and cool large, open spaces, especially with high ceilings. An open floor plan can increase your energy bills if you live in a cold or hot climate. In older homes, HVAC systems may be less powerful or feature smaller duct diameters, preventing them from effectively heating or cooling a large room. Measures like ceiling fans or high-efficiency ductless mini-split systems can offset this, but they may only partially resolve the problem.
  • ● Cooking Smells – In open-plan kitchens, cooking food odors emanate throughout the space. If you often cook foods with lots of garlic or spices, these smells can permeate furniture or carpet over time, giving the space a stale aroma.


Choosing the Right Floor Plan for You

Your floor plan can dictate how effectively you use your space, your interior design choices, and how foot traffic flows around your home. There are several important items to consider before deciding on an open floor plan.
  • Consider the Budget if Moving Walls – Removing walls can be expensive, particularly in older homes requiring replacement pillars or columns for structural strength. An open floor plan may be too costly if your renovation budget is modest.
  • ● Weigh the Pros and Cons – Renovating your home to transform it into an open-plan design is a significant investment. Before deciding, you need to consider the pros and cons of an open-plan design. Open floor plans can maximize functionality and create an inviting space to entertain and socialize. They can also make a smaller home feel more spacious. However, they are challenging to heat and cool and don’t provide adequate sound barriers. An open plan design may cost you more in long-term utility bills if you live in an area with extreme temperature changes.
  • ● Choose the Plan That Matches Your Lifestyle Best – The benefits of an open floor plan depend on your lifestyle. An open plan design for families with young children can help you monitor your kids while they play independently and allow family members to spend more time together. If you entertain regularly, an open kitchen-dining-living space will enable you to spend more time with your guests and offers a more casual atmosphere. However, for people who work from home, an open floor plan needs to offer adequate privacy or noise control to focus.


Choose Big State Construction for Your Next Renovation

Big State Construction is the premier resource for home renovations, disaster recovery, and new builds in the Houston and Gulf Coast area. We can help turn an old house into your dream home and help you find the perfect layout for your family. Whether you need a large or small renovation, contact our team today to discuss how to design your dream home.

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