“In the past, we used to see more enclosed spaces. And (lately) people have been opening it up and doing more open floor plans in general. Now that we’re faced with the reality that we do have to use our homes as our working places as well, we have to be mindful of that and create the best of the interior, where function is just as important as the aesthetic.”
~ Oksana Kreiman, Interior Designer
One of the first steps in the process of building a custom home in Dallas is deciding on the right floor plan for your family and your lifestyle. For the past 70 years, one of the most popular styles in new home construction has been the open floor plan.
But what does that mean, exactly?
And more importantly, is an open floor plan still the best fit in 2021 and beyond?
The pandemic has changed how we view and use our homes, blurring the lines between home life and work life, aesthetics and function, and even indoors and outdoors. Now more than ever, we expect – or even DEMAND – that our homes meet all of our needs.
To that end, we are going to take a closer look at what an open floor plan is, and the Pros and Cons you should consider. This way, you will be better informed and can make your dream home a reality.
First Things First — What is an Open Floor Plan?
Prior to World War II, most rooms were single-function and separated by walls. For example, the kitchen, dining, and living areas were each individual rooms within the home, and there was little-to-no interaction between them. Even common or entertaining spaces were separate from other rooms.
Post-war improvements in materials and design made it possible to change all that. Interior load-bearing walls could be replaced with heavy-duty beams, thereby opening up the common areas and forming a “great room”.
Private areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and home offices still follow the traditional closed-off design. With an open floor plan, you literally get the best of both worlds.
The Benefits of an Open Floor Plan
“(Open floor plans are) definitely more desirable for most buyers. I’d say about 90% of buyers want some sort of open floor plan in their house.”
~ Andrew Dellavecchia, Real Estate Professional
There are many good reasons why open floor plans are so popular among both buyers and those who are building a custom home.
PRO: More Room for the Size
With fewer partition walls, you can enjoy more room on the interior of your home without having to actually pay for a larger house. You make maximum use of the space you have.
PRO: Higher Resale Value
According to Realtor.com, a home with an open floor plan has an annual appreciation rate of 7.4%. That places it above other “premium features” such as a patio (6.8%), hardwood floors (5.7%), a fireplace (5.3%), or granite countertops (2.5%).
Because the kitchen flows into the dining area and because the dining area flows into the living area, there are no hard-and-fast limitations as to how you can use the interior of your home. If you want to make a change, all you have to do is rearrange your furniture and decorations.
PRO: More Interaction and Engagement
With an open floor plan, you are not cut off from family and friends just because you are in another room. For example, while you are preparing dinner in the kitchen, you can still keep an eye on your children as they play in the living room. In an open concept home, the family can be together, even when each person is busy doing their own thing.
PRO: Better Traffic Flow
Without walls and doors to get in the way, you and your family can move around your home easier. This is an especially-important consideration if you have a large family.
PRO: Shared Light and Better Air Circulation
Again, the lack of walls means that light is not blocked inside your home. Instead of independently lighting an individual closed-off room, the windows in an open-floor plan home work together to increase the amount of health-boosting natural light.
PRO: Better Air Flow
With an open floor plan, the common areas of your home will not feel cramped or stuffy. Because there are no obstacles, air can circulate more freely.
The Drawbacks of an Open Floor Plan
“The thought was that an open and informal plan would create a sense of ease, but people are realizing that it also means everything has to be organized, or else the house can quickly feel cluttered.”
~ Andrew Cogar, President of Historical Concepts Architectural Firm
Despite the many advantages, there are nonetheless other considerations that you should be aware of.
CON: Higher Construction Costs
Because there are fewer load-bearing walls, contractors have to use more-expensive heavy-duty beams to support the roof and any upper levels. This could make a real difference in the final cost of your custom home.
CON: More Expensive to Heat and Cool Your Home
The typical open-concept home has high ceilings and large windows, making it much harder to keep heating and cooling costs down. On the contrary, traditional floor plans let you heat or cool individual rooms as needed. This is a major consideration in the Dallas-fort Worth area, where the summers are long and hot.
CON: Less Privacy
While an open floor plan promotes greater social interaction, it does make it harder to find a quiet space for studying or reading, unless you want to retreat to your office or bedroom.
CON: Noise Control
Without walls to block and absorb sound, a home with an open floor plan tends to be much noisier. This can be a nuisance if you are trying to relax, work, or have a conversation.
CON: Less Wall Space
The lack of partition walls means you will have fewer places to hang artwork, decorations, awards, and family pictures.
CON: Fewer Electrical Outlets
In the same way, fewer walls means fewer places to install electrical outlets. This can somewhat limit where you can place your electrical devices within your home.
CON: Harder to Keep Neat
While you might think that having a large open area makes it easier to keep clean, the opposite is often true. Because you can see everything at once, the common areas can quickly appear cluttered if you do not constantly keep them clean and organized. In an open concept home, organization is a must.
The Bottom line About an Open Floor Plan in Your Custom Home
As evidenced by their enduring popularity, many home buyers and builders prefer open floor plans. Although there are drawbacks, they are generally outweighed by the many positives. The best way to maximize your options and truly have the custom home of your dreams is to discuss the available open floor plan designs with your building team.