In Nashville, almost all speculative construction features the style, and it is wildly popular for remodels too.
But is it for you?
WHAT IS IT?
Open concept is a style that has no dividing walls between rooms. Most commonly this is between the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Most homeowners still prefer closed rooms for bedrooms and baths!
Several decades ago when city developers were converting commercial spaces to residential use, this was a style of necessity, dictated by limited light sources and super high ceilings. That “loft” style has since migrated to mainstream architecture.
Why is open concept so popular? In many parts of the country, Nashville included, homeowners are buying smaller properties closer to town.
With these smaller bungalows and ranches, an open plan gives the illusion of more space. In addition, formal dining has been on the decline for years. An open plan converts that wasted dining room space to a more utilitarian use.
Open plan living encourages socialization between the cook and the diners. For years, I was stuck in the kitchen while my guests jollied it up in the living room. I recently renovated my kitchen to an open concept, and now I can join in the fun.
Allows More Light
An open plan allows more light into the home. This is especially important in shotgun style homes that really only have two exposures. You see this style frequently when two homes have been narrowly constructed on what was formerly a lot with one home (Green Hills.)
And nothing makes a small space feel smaller than a bunch of tiny, chopped up rooms. Open plan gives the illusion of more space without actually enlarging the house.
Lack of Privacy
Lack of privacy is a major drawback. A good open plan works best when there are two living spaces or a separate study. My library, dining room, and kitchen are a joint space, but I still have a formal living room.
Sliding walls or doors can increase flexibility and privacy as well.
Cooking smells are an issue in open plans. I don’t actually cook much (!) so it’s not a concern for me! But if you do, invest in a good ventilation system.
Dirty Dishes on View
Some homeowners complain about dirty dishes and pots on view to the entire house. This can be mitigated by building a split level island or by being very neat!
Another solution is to create two kitchens, one in the open space and another working or caterers’ kitchen.
Lack of Storage
When you remove walls, you also lose storage space. I took care of this by building a floor to ceiling pantry in a dead space next to the window.
IS IT A FAD?
Will we be putting those walls back up in fifteen years? Who knows? After all, brass came back! For now, open plan living meets the needs of many homeowners.