Open floor concept living is not for everyone–either by choice or by architectural design. This recent Boston Globe article sums up a growing dissatisfaction with open concepts and their ubiquity in the real estate marketplace.
Cohost J. here: We can’t give a Tag For Hate to open concepts, because in many spaces they work beautifully. Lots of people love the entertaining possibilities–heck, cohost Rob has an open concept first floor! What I love about this article is that it makes the case for actually thinking about your lifestyle and how your home enhances and supports that lifestyle. Homeowners interviewed by the reporter talk about how they could see themselves entertaining lavishly while whipping up three-course meals in the kitchen, or keeping an eye on the kids while busy doing something else. For most of us, these are fantasies. And while fantasy interior design has its place, you have to be really careful about making those dreams come true.
Even HGTV, the source that has inspired thousands of homeowners to toss sledgehammers into sheetrock with abandon, warns about the downsides of open concept living.
Sometimes you get what you wish for, and, to quote Sondheim’s Into The Woods: “Wishes come true, not free.” The tradeoffs of open concept? Lack of privacy. Clutter. A nagging sense that there are things still to be done in that other “room” over there that I can see while I’m trying to relax on the couch. Or, as homeowner Asya says in the piece, someone is relaxing and watching her while she’s working.
Friends of ours (frequently referenced in the show) have a 1970’s swinger’s house in Poughkeepsie–no joke. It’s a one bedroom, 3,000+ square foot three-level house. The only interior walls that extend to the ceiling are around the kitchen and bathrooms. It’s a great house for entertaining (and they do, frequently, and largely). But quiet and cozy it is not. It works for them and their lifestyle–it’s just the two of them and a dog–but it would be totally impractical for my family. And most families, which is probably why it sat on the market for four years, waiting for just the right buyers!
So as you’re househunting, fantasy or otherwise, or dreaming up ways to fix up your existing space, be honest with yourself and your family. Perform a lifestyle audit and really think about your tolerance for clutter, mess, cleaning, organizing, noise, and activity. Hash it all out internally before knocking down all those internal walls. Be open with yourself and those you live with before committing to open concept.