When I shared the topic of this blog with a friend, he suggested the pros and cons approach. Since that would make for two lopsided lists, I decided to make the case for the side my wife and I favor.
The case for closed spaces
We just bought a home. There is much to like about it, such as the curb appeal, the upstairs home office space, and the pool. We also knew what we didn’t like and what we would change. (Thankfully, my wife and I agree on most anything concerning style and design.) Topping that list was the need for some walls.
Walls define spaces.
When I opened the front door, I saw three pillars punctuating the living room and dining area. Once I opened the door completely, I saw the entire family room to the right of the staircase.
In our opinion, the arrangement of the pillars was a half-hearted attempt to define rooms when, in reality, the three pillars presented obstacles. To our minds, a family room is, by definition, reserved for the house’s inhabitants. Giving anyone entering the home a quick and unimpeded view of it contradicts that notion.
Walls define the purpose of a room.
Living rooms are places for conversation. We like to entertain guests. Dining rooms are for special occasions with a focus on food and drink.
By adding two walls in the entry area, we defined not only the living and dining areas, but we created an entry space, a foyer. Without distracting views, now the visitors are the center of attention.
By closing the large opening in the wall toward the family room, we not only enhance the room’s privacy but also defined yet another space. There is now a hallway leading to the primary bedroom.
Most of the entryway is now hidden from the other side of the family room. What is now more apparent is the location of the guest bathroom.
Walls are for putting things.
We not only defined rooms and created spaces, but we also added 28 feet of linear wall. More wall space gives us much-needed room for furniture and art. I have noticed that people have placed pieces of furniture in open-concept homes to create separate rooms. Often that’s a tacit admission for a missing wall.
The open concept – a builder’s dream?
A builder friend told me that the open-concept trend started with smaller homes meant to look larger by a continuous space. A recent Twitter post was less flattering. “HGTV has ruined houses. Every house is just one giant room with a kitchen island in the middle.” One comment aimed at another in-style building trend. “A sliding barn door leads to a bathroom, the only enclosed room for miles.” Readers retweeted the post nearly 5,000 times.
For a good reason, the open-concept idea never reached the bedrooms of two-story homes. The open space with no walls has been known for some time as a dormitory.
Where do you stand?
Over the years, I have seen some homes with open spaces that worked. Often, these homes had views. It’s easier to sacrifice some privacy when the advantages are visible or audible. On the other hand, the slightest cough may conjure up the threat of Covid, which we prefer to wall in.
Where do you stand on the open-concept home design? What has worked for you, and what hasn’t?
Published originally as the 139th issue of The View from the Street.
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