The pros and cons of an open floor plan
A casual, multifunctional space sounds like an enticing concept. With no walls separating the kitchen from the living and dining rooms, a space will look more expansive and inviting because it's not chopped up into smaller areas.
However, there are downsides as well. Before you start demolishing the walls, know the positives and negatives of having an open-concept floor plan.
• The space will look bigger.
With no walls to stop the flow of square footage, it'll look like you've upgraded to a larger home. "By opening up a space, you have more light-filled areas and visually much more room," says Sharon Flatley, a Dallas interior designer (flatleydesign.com)."The space will be more open for entertaining and have a better flow. People can pass through without interfering with anyone else in the space."
• It saves you money.
Taking out a non-load-bearing wall or two is more affordable than building an addition, if your intention is to gain more space. With an open floor plan, you'll use formerly little-used space, like the dining room, since it's much more accessible now.
• An open concept encourages togetherness.
"People feel more connected while in one large open space," says Flatley. "There's room for the family to watch TV while the primary cook becomes part of the group even though he or she is preparing dinner in the kitchen."
• You can't hide dirty dishes or clutter.
Every backpack dumped on the floor, every cereal bowl used at breakfast will be in clear view, says Flatley. "An open concept would naturally force anyone to tidy up on a regular daily basis to avoid living in a messy environment." Are you ready for that?
• Knocking down a load-bearing wall doesn't come cheap.
"You may need to consult with a structural engineer or architect," says Flatley. The cost of removing walls often dictates whether it's feasible to pursue an open concept. "Removing beams in the ceiling or in the attic space can be costly, as well, but it's doable."
• No walls, no privacy.
If the kids are whooping it up in the family room area while you're trying to read, someone's going to get cranky and it won't be the kids.
• Aromatic food smells won't be contained to the kitchen.
The scent of the garlic chicken dish you prepared for dinner may still be permeating the entire first floor by the time you go to bed. What was enticing hours ago is now just smelly.