An Open Floor Plan – In Great Demand, But Is It The Right Choice

From the front door an open design provides sightlines to the whole house.

Every remodeling video, TV show and magazine talks at length about creating an open floor plan. The term “open concept floor plan” is a favorite of realtors and designers. Many just shorten it to “open concept” design. It’s the force behind knocking down walls in Madison WI homes.

The overall floor plan of your home is the road map to efficiency. It dictates how people move, how furnishings fit in and how your living areas interact. If you’re considering a remodeling project for your older home, the layout is essential from Day One. You have to weigh the benefits of a wide open approach to the value of closed doors and more intimate spaces. If your lifestyle is open and active, the open space is a plus. If you value private moments and areas dedicated to special activities, a more closed design has benefit.

Making it simple, consider the pros and cons of two styles: open layouts and closed floor plans.

Define For Yourself An Open Floor Plan

To get your project off to a solid start, do your research – read magazines and design books, check out TV and video and visit open houses and the local Parade of Homes. See what the open concept is all about. You may find it defined in many ways. You have to define it to fit your personal needs.

Open Floor Plan | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
Custom features like railings and different flooring define rooms even in an open design.

In its most basic form, an open plan features one very large room that forms the family living space. It incorporates living, dining and food preparation on one floor.

An open living area is the trend driving hundreds of remodeling projects. What would opening up your house mean to your family? Consider:

  • Makes the home seem larger – removing walls is especially good for small, older homes giving them a feeling of more room. A wide open space is less restrictive than a series of smaller rooms.
  • Welcome additional furnishings – with fewer walls there’s more space for seating so more room for furniture.
  • Benefits everyday activities – family members can be in the kitchen and living area while staying in contact and interacting with one another.
  • Makes the most of natural light – in older homes, interior rooms seldom benefit from windows. Open the floor plan and bring light inside.
  • Kid-friendly spaces – families with young children especially like being able to keep active kids in sights from all over the expanded space.
  • Welcome guests – the open concept promotes entertaining and the ease of interacting with guests. What the “big game” from the kitchen, dining area or wherever you want.

Another benefit, taking advantage of the trend: an open concept design increases resale value.

It’s not perfect. Sounds and smells hidden behind walls in traditional homes spread in one big room. Large spaces are harder to evenly heat and cool, too.

Traditional Floor Plan Promotes Privacy

If you’re looking for quiet, private spaces, a closed floor plan might be a better fit.

Homes built before the 1990s usually came with a closed, traditional floor plan with walls separating main rooms. Each room had its own specific function. Dividing your living space has its benefits today, including:

  • Private spaces – a place to get away from the hectic family action. Walls and doors are good separation.
  • Managing sounds – secluded spaces for listening to music (or practicing a band instrument) or enjoying other hobbies away from others. When entertaining friends and family, youngsters can have a place of their own away from adult conversation, too.
  • Your own gallery – if you have art or photos to hang, walls provide your own personal gallery space.
  • Contain messes – it seems a rule that the more space children have the more they will spread out their playthings. A playroom, game room or TV room makes it easier to contain potential messes and keep the whole house clean. A little bit of clutter can be hidden behind closed doors, too, when guests arrive.
  • Maximize energy use – small spaces are easier to heat and cool so closed doors can save money on energy bills.

It is true that opening up your floor plan can boost resale value, but the cost of the remodel might top what you hope to gain.

Consider Your Lifestyle Before Choosing A Floor Plan

There’s a lot to consider before you decide to knock down walls. How will you use the new space? That’s that most important question. It has to benefit your family every day for the foreseeable future. To get organize your thoughts, ask yourself…

  1. Do we entertain a lot? An open floor plan is ideal for large groups mingling and interacting without feeling crowded or left out.
  2. Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Again, opening up the space allows you to socialize while you cook and clean up after a meal.
  3. Does Your family enjoy private times and cozy spaces? A closed, traditional floor plan with rooms where you can “escape” for some private time yet be close to family activities is probably a wise
  4. Do you have art, family photos and objects to display on walls? If you are a collector of art, family photos, awards or memorabilia, you’ll need walls to display your treasures properly. The open concept takes away these valuable spaces.
  5. Is your home “loud?” Opening up the floor plan lets noises escape into the entire space. The bigger the room the more sound is exaggerated, too. A closed floor plan allows you to contain noises in their own areas.
  6. Is your design style modern or traditional? Is your choice of décor leaning toward country, colonial or farmhouse? While these, too, are popular trends they may not lend themselves to a true wide open floor plan.

When You Know The Open Concept Is Right

After weighing all the options,  pro and con, and deciding to go with an open floor plan, consider these suggestions:

  • Stay connected – maintain continuity of design and décor. Don’t overlook the fundamental interior design elements you’re stressing in other rooms. Bring it all together with flooring, paint colors and your choice of material accents.
  • Define space with lighting and furnishing – you can create rooms within a room with the placement of furniture and specialty lighting. Kitchen islands separate food preparation from the living area, for example. Area rugs and eye-catching lighting fixtures become focal points. A fire place and entertainment centers play big roles.
  • Consider traffic flow – nobody likes to consider “traffic” through their living area, but people move around all day, every day. How you direct that traffic though the new open space dictates how it will be enjoyed. Create clear paths for people to move to and from key area.
  • Stay organized – one of the major disadvantages of a large open space is not being able to keep it free of clutter.
  • Form vs function – arrange your décor to best suit your family’s everyday needs, not just what looks good (especially if you got the idea from a magazine or TV). Customize everything to fit your lifestyle.

Lean On Professionals For Your Open Floor Plan

There are many ways to create floor plan with an open design that works for you. When you’re ready to put your ideas on paper and consider all the options, Sims Exteriors & Remodeling is ready to work with you to explore your choices. Call 608-825-4500, or email us. We’ll evaluate your space and outline the pros and cons. We know a major remodeling project is big step and you want to do it right, With decades of experience we’ve opened up countless spaces providing just the right open floor plan and we’ll do it in your Madison WI area home, too.

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