Are open floor plans passe' or might they be in the near future?

mcfromctJuly 5, 2010

I recently read a post by someone suggesting that open floor plans will be 'out' and are a waste. That never occurred to me - I honestly can't imagine why someone wouldn't want an open floor plan for entertaining. I found a house plan that I love - the Frank Betz Olde Heritage Manor - with a very open floor plan. That's what I love about it. The only room that isn't 'open' is the dining room. I'm curious as to everyone's thoughts on this topic...

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We've been living in our open floor plan new build almost five years - Love it. imo, it all boils down to personal preference. Some like them, some don't. Same goes for SS appliances, use of granite, stone flooring, carpet in bedrooms, etc etc etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Home

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 10:11AM
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I agree with Allison0704, in planning a house there are definitely things that you do have to worry about going out of style, but I think when choosing a floor plan you definitely have to go with what suits your needs. We've lived in a ranch with an open floor plan for 6 years and I could never consider an open floor plan where our family can all be together a "waste". If you have found a plan that you like and can envision how your family will live in it, go for it!!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 11:21AM
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I can't imagine that is true. My parents built a very traditional, Williamsburg style cape cod in the mid 70s. It has a open floor plan (kitchen open to breakfast area and den), no dead end rooms, etc. Perfect for entertaining and very very livable. I think they were ahead of the curve on this! Their prior house was a bungalow with a galley kitchen and my mom couldn't stand being cut off from everyone so she fixed it.

Our house plan is equally open now, and our new one will be also. I happen to love it and can't imagine that would change. We will however have a playroom this next go around so hopefully we can get the Wii and affiliated commotion upstairs!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 11:33AM
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We're building an open floor plan, not because it's trendy, but because it fits our needs and wants. Our current house has a seperate eat-in kitchen and I HATE it.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 12:21PM
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We are building an open floor plan. No matter how hard you try, you just can't keep people out of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 2:14PM
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I always chuckle at the thought of some kind of design being "out", or "in" for that matter. If you are going with an open floor plan because it fits your needs and you like the way it lives, then it could never be out and you should go for it. But, if you are going with it because it is trendy and everyone is doing it, then that is a bad idea.

I would personally go for a partition or at least a raised bar that will make it so that everyone is not looking directly at anything that might be in the sink or other messes immediately as they walk into the open room. I love the wide open pass-throughs for this. I dislike the cooktops on an island or peninsula facing out into the living area because I think that the splatter and mess and heat that is cooking is best contained by a wall in back as a backsplash and an overhead vent. The main sink facing out to the living area (behind a raised bar or pass-through), YES, cooktop, NO.

I spent several nights at a friend's brand new home that was a very open plan, upstairs and down, even the upstairs looked out over the great room/kitchen area and while lovely, this could never work for me. My friend confided that all the noise from cooking and people and tv's went straight upstairs and often disturbed whomever was trying to sleep or relax in the bedrooms, and I found this to be true. This was very annoying and became a sore point for those who went to bed and arose on different schedules. Plus, I observed that when there are people over that different groups often branch off to have a bit of distance from other groups. The only place we could go in their house that offered some distance from other loud conversations was the bedroom so we could shut the door.

If your budget can stand it, I love the idea of two living/recreation areas or at least a study so that groups, be it girls/guys, adults/kids or whatever can have some separation when they want it and don't have to go huddle in the bedroom. I love keeping rooms directly off the kitchen for this reason.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 3:52PM
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I agree with santuary girl that a floor plan an be too open. We have one open space that contains the kitchen , dining room and hearth room and is the heart of the home. But the rest of the house is very closed off. The bedrooms and staircase are tucked away. We have all hardwood floors and sound carrying throughout the house was a concern.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 4:32PM
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Like a two story great room or foyer with catwalk, an open kitchen/great room can be loud. But as pps7 said, if you design the house with this in mind, it doesn't have to be.
Our lower level stairway is tucked in the back hallway. The stairway going to the upper level was located in the kitchen but removed (we did not need the room over garage, 1 bed/bath with the lower level).

I also did away with suggested raised counter. Did not want to look at bar stools from great room. Wanted a more room like kitchen. I clean as I go and its never a mess. Not even on holidays. It's a curse. ;)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:06PM
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Open floor plans are not pass

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:43PM
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I don't believe open floor plans are a trend. I think they are really more a reflection of our casual and family-oriented lifestyles. We are building a 1 story home with open kitchen/dining/family room.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 8:50PM
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Sanctuarygirl is spot on. There are areas that need quiet and/or privacy. Our fourteen year old house that I designed (before it was trendy??) is open among the family, kitchen, and dining nook. It works great, but I recommend the quietest dishwasher you can get, cause that sound travels. The Maytags have a pretty good record .

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 3:56AM
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Open floor plans are not trendy, as anyone who has visited Falling Water can attest to. Admittedly, it's a little before it's time in some trends, but it's 75 years old, and except for some of the colors and materials used, is still a design that many people would consider "current". It's also current in the "trend" towards larger public spaces and smaller private spaces that has come about as a backlash against the huge homes of the last decade. The "not so big" movement advocates designing a home with larger multi use public spaces and smaller and cozier private space. Airport runway sized master suites are what are out of vogue! Heating and cooling a section of a home that's 40% of the size of the rest of it but used only 20% of the time is making less sense to many current home builders.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 8:41AM
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I believe that the degree of openness in certain floor plans has gotten a bit out of control. I've been in some new homes where you can see virtually the entire first floor of the house from the moment you step inside the front door. For some reason, I just don't have the urge to look at my refrigerator 24/7. And I like the ability of having separate living spaces where groups of guests can sit and carry out separate conversations/activities if they like.

For me personnally, I believe a moderation of openness and separation is the best. This means a good flow from room to room accomplished by wide cased openings. Each room is separately defined, but yet somewhat open to the others.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:29PM
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I don't think that open floor plans are a trend but when we were designing ours, I wanted to keep it a little more traditional. The LR and DR are open to one another with porch and patio access at each end. Also, our kitchen is open to the family room but we are installing 6' french pocket doors between the 2 spaces-- not sure how often I will use them but I like the idea of being able to close it off a little more if I want to.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 1:08PM
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Such interesting posts. I agree you have to do what is best for your family/situation and that's exactly what we intend to do. I certainly wouldn't choose it because it's a trend esp if it didn't work for my family. I was just asking out of curiousity because it would be kind of a major project to put so many walls back if it was no longer practical for some reason or just really 'outdated' where it affected resale in the future. It's hard for me to imagine what could be bad about it.
The statement about the loudness of a dishwasher was eye-opening. I never would've thought about that. I also love the idea of pocket doors - my sister-in-law actually has nice accordian-like doors that close off her family room.
The other reason I asked is that I found this amazing floor plan - it's the Frank Betz Olde Heritage Manor - not my style on the outside but I really love the floor plan. I was kind of wondering if it is too open though? It does have a fireplace between the sunroom and family room but I was even thinking of eliminating that to open up the space even more and just putting the FP on the wall in the fam room...any opinions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Frank Betz Olde Heritage Manor floor plan

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:00PM
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I would tend to agree with tooskinneejs, a plan can be too open. Things were way too closed off in the past and now the pendulum has swung too far in the open direction. Moderation is the key! In addition to the reasons I already stated, the biggest thing I have a problem with is that as I have looked at thousands of plans you can stand in the front doorway and see everything and everyone in the public areas (usually dining, living/great room, kitchen, breakfast, sometimes rear porches). No one standing at my door should be able to look and see who is at my home and what we are all doing from the doorway.

I understand that the idea is to get the most out of your square footage by keeping open lines of sight to make spaces that are on the small side live bigger than they are by sharing visual space so that they don't feel cramped. I have read The Not So Big House and all of Sarah Susanka's books and like most of what she has to say about residential design. But sometimes, you can't tuck a little nook around the corner and put up a half wall for privacy and keep out sounds and people when you need to. Put in some real doors that can be closed for more private occasions when you want it and left open the rest of the time.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:07PM
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Having lived in such a plan, I can personally attest that there IS such a thing as a floorplan that's too open -- but if you've never experienced it, it's probably hard to imagine. I'll try to describe what was wrong with it, in the hopes that you can 'tweak' your plan to the level of openness that's perfect for you.

As Sanctuary noted, the noise from the TV and socializing downstairs was very disturbing for those trying to sleep or work upstairs (or trying not to sleep as may be the case with little kids). Also Dishwasher noise, party noise, even simple conversation noise if the main conversation area was open to above, and the bedrooms were right off that open space. I also found that the only place to 'escape' the noise and commotion was in a bedroom. There was NO cozy private place to pull out a book and read, because the whole public area was too open and inter-connected. Even when there was enough quiet, there was too much 'visibility' to really feel comfortable.

I think as plans have become more open, the pitfalls of poorly-designed too-open plans are becoming more visible. So actually, I DO think there is a trend away from plans that are as open as possible. Not completely away from openness -- but more cognizant of the 'too much of a good thing' aspect, and allowing some private spaces.

Putting IN walls is not nearly as bad as taking them OUT -- so if in doubt, frame for the more open plan and try it. Also, I'd strongly agree with your 'pocket door' suggestion -- particularly pairs of doors that can open or close-off a room depending on your needs. Out TV room has double pocket doors that I just love, especially now that the kids are older and don't need quite as much supervision.

The 'Not So Big' books are a must-read for helping find that perfect balance between too much openness and not enough.

In the plan you posted, I'd close off the wall on either side of the fireplace separating the Grand Room from the Keeping room. Put in bookcases and display shelves on the Grand Room side, bookcases and TV on the Keeping room side. Then add double doors between the Keeping Room and Breakfast area. With the TV & video games in the Keeping Room, you can either hear it or not from the Kitchen, depending on the doors, and you'll be able to keep the Grand Room conversation-centered without constant TV noise. Otherwise, I really like that plan --

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:57PM
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This is a very interesting discussion and made me reflect on some of the houses I've lived in, nearly bought, visited and the one we are building, now.

My 1st house was a 1920's Dutch Colonial Revival in NJ. In some sense, it had an open floor plan. On the main floor was a large cased opening between the living room & dining room and another cased opening (actually had been French doors which were still in the basement) to a sun room off the living room. The kitchen was a bit isolated behind a swinging door (solid chestnut as was trim, floors, windows, etc. (deep sigh)), but what a wonderful setup for large parties. Everyone could circulate, but there were areas for people to congregate for their own conversations.

The house we live in now was built in the early 90's & is one story with formals in the front & open kitchen/family room/breakfast area. I love being able to interact with the family while I cook, etc. But, when DD was a teenager & wanted to have friends over, DH & I ended up trapped in our bedroom for the duration. Word to the wise for those of you who are building while your kid's are in grammar school - they grow into teenagers & you need to think about how they are going to entertain their friends and how it affects you.

A new house we nearly bought in the mid-90's had the "sanctuarygirl effect". In retrospect, that would not have been a livable design for us. My BIL's house has taken openness to a different extreme ala the "tooskinneejs effect". When you open the front door to their house, all living space with the exception of the bedrooms & bath is one open area. We tried to take lessons from all of the above both positive & negative.

Open sight lines may make things look bigger, but, I think a wide open space negates much of that positive by being too simplistic (IMVHO). We tried to learn from all of these lessons when we designed our new home. Even the act of walking through the front door has already been a passage across a flagstone terrace and a recessed stoop.

We've tried to make sure that the open sight lines lead to features such as barrel arches off of the great room and dining room that make you say, "Jeez, I wonder what is just beyond that arch." And, those arches lead to the everyday living areas of the kitchen/banquette/keeping room & then out to the screened porch. I feel that I've carried forward the openness of my 1920's house to a 21st century sensibility (or so I hope).

Jo Ann

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 3:49PM
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FLW is generally credited with the first "open plan" house but Falling Water only had a combined dining room/living room space. The kitchen was entirely separate with a domestic staff room next to it.

The open plan house is not just an interesting design trend; it is a social evolution due to the kitchen becoming the heart of the house for the rising middle class who had no servants, the "housewife" being isolated in the kitchen, and the rise of television as the primary source of family entertainment.

I doubt this social trend is going to change in our lifetime unless we start using robots to make our dinner.

However, some of the ways the spaces relate to each other are arbitrary trends and they will certainly change. But that's why people renovate houses. Build what you want.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 5:57PM
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Here is the plan:

I would not say the primary design concept is "open plan" since the dining room is relatively private. The central design concept is the use of a kitchen island as a dramatic high curved casual dining location where the focus of the seated participants is the kitchen sink.

The purpose of FLW's Falling Water plan was to create unobstructed views to the patios and decks through large open doors and windows. Being able to freely look out of the house was intended to be a major architectural design statement which is all that Frank really cared about.

The other Frank's open plan design includes the kitchen (but not the dining room) so the views are more inwardly focused and a worthy transition from the kitchen to the other living spaces is required which, in this case, is the grand curved island. If this is the trend you are fearful about, I would agree that it is not going to last. I have come to the conclusion that few people want to sit and look at a kitchen sink (especially when in use) and few people want to look at the backs of people doing that; it's like looking at people at the pool bar in a seaside resort. Personally, I would rather sit at the breakfast or dining tables, enjoy the view and the others at the table and keep my feet on the floor.

The plan is not bad, it just needs more thought about how a kitchen should relate to a living area and how you want family members to relate to each other. When they ask for a TV on the kitchen wall, Michelob on tap and bar snacks you'll know you're in trouble.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:26PM
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Such incredibly insightful posts, really above and beyond. Thank you so much to all that have posted. It has really made me consider the openness factor tremendously.
macv-the last line of your post made me burst out in laughter, but it's really true! The first thing I did when I saw this plan was to turn the island so it's squared up in the kitchen and 'remove' the bar part. I also have to tell you that having the kitchen sink at the island is prob the thing I dislike most about the plan. I have looked at it a million times and can't figure out how I could change it but I feel like this plan is a very good starting point. We live in CT and probably 95% of every house I have been in in our town is the standard colonial or variation of...walk in the front door - stairs are in front of you, DR to the right, LR to the left (never used by anyone I know and a complete waste of space). Then it's usually the den, breakfast area and kitchen in a row after you walk past the stairs. So when I saw this plan is was so different and ALL usable and 'open' compared to what I'm used to seeing.
The outside isn't my taste. I would remove the large stairwell window and put it an oval window on the left and right sides of the house and perhaps an elliptical/'eyebrow' window at the top. I would also primarily use shingles vs the stone that is currently on the plan - maybe just a strip of stone at the bottom but a lot less than in the picture.
Here is a link of the (current) exterior...
Anyway, thank you all again. I feel like I consulted an expert panel!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:31AM
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The location of the sink in most plans I have studied is problematic for me, too, since I am still in favor of a window over the kitchen sink, but almost no plans put it that way anymore, even huge plans that have the square footage to do it easily by putting the sink on an outer wall. This is following the idea of openness that incorporates the kitchen into the main living area so that the person in the kitchen doesn't have to have their back to a room and the people in it, so they put the sink on the island instead these days, usually back-to-back with the cooktop, another idea I dislike. A secondary small sink on the island with the main sink on a wall, the cooktop close by it on either side, and the refrigerator and ovens on either end. Guess I am talking about a U shape or L shape, the kitchen in your plan would be an L, I guess (especially since you say you squared off the island in your version).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 9:46AM
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mcfromct, it's a pretty house plan and I can see lots of possibilities with it. I do like open house plans and have built three of them, so my thoughts are from things I've run into. They might not apply to you, am just throwing them out in case...cause that's what kicking around a potential house plan is about!

When sitting in the grand room, it's just not as attractive as you might think to look at the kitchen floors, bottoms of cabinets, stove, etc. In my experience, even with a really pretty kitchen, the novelty of that gets old fast. Another thought is there are a LOT of access doorways into your kitchen! You might like that, but cutting back would give you more counter space and room to mess with kitchen plan, plus cut down on the number of times someone comes into the kitchen just as you are getting something out of the fridge or carrying something hot from the oven (any little people running around in your home?) I'd cut off that one entry into the kitchen where the fridge is on the plan and make an L and then maybe even a diagonal countertop across the other corner. You could then put the sink in the half wall looking over the grand room, or on the diagonal (so it's kind of looking the same direction it is now) but you'd have a lot more options for playing with the kitchen plan. Two entries into a kitchen, with the main area being arranged in an L or a U gives you *lots* more design options and control over the space.

The open fireplace is pretty....but do you need a place for a TV and stereo equipment, or do you have any books? I'm not seeing anyplace to put these things. Do you have kids and what are their ages? Mentioning these things together, because if you walled up either side of the fireplace and put built-ins facing the grand room, it would give you room for the things I mentioned plus make the sunroom a useful but more private separate area. You still have openness of sight lines between some of these rooms but you'd have an attractive slightly "away" retreat (if you have children that function becomes increasingly attractive!)

Both the above suggestions also address what for me would be a problem in the grand will be very difficult with the dimensions of that room and the lack of walls to place sofas, a couple of chairs, end tables, etc. as well as the aforementioned TV and stereo equipment, books, etc.

You might hate all this, they are just my thoughts of how to make your very pretty floor pan work better for me!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:36AM
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A whole other direction to play with....noticing that you had toyed with the idea of taking the fireplace out of the middle of the rooms. Do you have any use for a "piano room" or a kind of small library/reading room, etc.? If so, that room could be the first smaller room you go through on your way into the house from the front door and then the area at the back corner of the house becomes the large family room instead of a sunroom. This gives you lots more windows in the family room you use most of the time, a lot of options for family room, breakfast room, kitchen to have a very open floor plan, family room then has the light, the views, easy access to back porch or deck or patio. I could see double french doors between that first smaller room and the family room, so then you have the option of having them open if want more open feel, or closed (closed french doors can be very beautiful to look at, and still have the light and the view through them.) Just another direction to play with!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 9:52AM
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mcfromct: I share many of your opinions on the all too prevalent "standard colonial" style of the past 20-30 years. The colonial is in modern times what the post-WWII tract ranch was. I think in another decade or two they will be viewed in the same dated/disdainful way.

So I too have been looking for 'different' plans. In fact, Old Heritage Manor is on my list of candidates, but it's been recently bumped down by Stephen Fuller's Wakefield plan. Similar to Olde Hetitage Manor, it has a centrally located great room, but in Wakefield plan it's a bit more closed off. It's open to the kitchen, but less so. It has sight lines to a large covered outdoor room, but separated via french doors. I think it gives the illusion of openness while still offering privacy. What I like the most is that the upstairs bedrooms are off of a centrally located space, which provides a public area for children separate from the adult common area. If the exterior styling is not to your liking, I notice that his "Classic Suburban Collection" features essentially the same floor plan in different exterior treatments. Take a look and see if it's to your liking.

I also agree with the others on 'open' plans and sound transmission. We have friends with such a house (2-story great room with open balcony to the 2nd floor) and pretty much all kitchen/TV noise echos up to the bedrooms. And as noted, there's also few places to retreat to for 'quiet time.'

Here is a link that might be useful: Stephen Fuller's Wakefield

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:54AM
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briosafarm- thank you for your thoughtfulness and wonderful input. You are completely right - walling off the fireplace completely makes sense otherwise there wouldn't be any place to put books, pictures etc. Looking at the plan, it would still be very open -you could see the sunroom and family room ('grand room') from the kitchen but it would give us so much more storage and shelving.
You're right too in that walling off the doorway for the butlers pantry would give me so much more counter space and take the sink off the island - I just don't know if I would give up the butlers pantry. I love the thought of having one. I think I would need to think about it more.
Yes - I do have kids - 1,3 and 5. I would definitely put a basement in this house as their play area although my husband would love to watch games down there with the guys too.
I thought the exact same thing about the great room but especially the sunroom - where would I put furniture, esp in the sunroom? There is only one wall. And the sunroom seems a little small to me. I think I would bump it out (towards the back yard) maybe 2+ feet(?) and maybe 2 feet on the other wall as well (on the right side) so I could put a loveseat or sm couch on the right side and then maybe 2 chairs on the left side of the room. You are so perceptive because it seemed like plenty of space until I saw the pictures. If you look at where the front door is, it creates almost a 'hallway' to the back door. You can't block that 3+ foot wide path with furniture. So although the room is 16 feet wide, you really only have 12 feet. The interior pictures I saw looked a little cramped for the furniture. I'm including a link to the pictures - look at the one of the Grand Room. It is so narrow - they have a couch and ottoman and it looks like the wall is only a couple of feet away. So I would most likely bump out that wall too (the right side of the house on the floor plan) to make both the sunroom and great room wider by at least 2 feet.
I also like your idea of a small study/piano room with french door as you first walk in the house although I'm not sure how much use it would get. It's a really great idea though and something I will consider...really, thank you so much for your posts. You gave me so many great ideas.

oicu812 - thank you so much for your post as well. I love Stephen Fuller designs. The plan you showed me is great. The only thing for me is that I like to have the Master BR upstairs. Also, I would have a little concern over light. I would be worried that a covered porch on either side might make the inside spaces too dark for me. I need a lot of light. It's probably 2nd or 3rd on my list of most importants features. I would also love to have the laundry on the 2nd fl and I'm not sure we would use the study enough. But I really like the plan for its openness and his houses are beautiful! The children's retreat upstairs is spectacular! Thank you so much for giving me some more ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Interior pictures of Frank Betz Olde Heritage Manor

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 3:35AM
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Wow, this is really a beautiful plan, inside and out. Thanks for posting the link. It is so great when someone has built one so you don't have to guess at how it could look. But how can they not have any pics of the master bath, jeez!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 9:32AM
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Kicking around house plans is fun! What ultimately matters is what will work for you and what you will like, but it's fun to play with ideas and look at rooms in a different way.

Just to clarify, I wouldn't close off your butler's pantry or your existing pantry!!! The butler's pantry is your way between kitchen and dining room and the existing pantry will be very useful. I meant close off the open way into the kitchen in that corner where the fridge is (right around the corner from coat closet.) Run the counter/kitchen wall from the fridge corner toward the back of the house, and then either make a U or put a diagonal to end it (wish I knew how to sketch a quick diagram and attach but I'm clueless that way even though blueprints talk to me, LOL.) You could make that side of the kitchen be a 42" wall, even put the sink in that counter if you like it there (this would overlook the grand room area of your existing plan.) You might want to move the fridge location, or not, that could be tweaked later once you have the basic layout changes the way you want them. Access to the kitchen would then be either through the butler's pantry from the dining room, or by walking past the "grand room" area and around the end of the counter and coming in through the breakfast room. That is NOT as inconvenient as it sounds, as you still have a straight shot in with groceries from garage and mud room, easy access from breakfast room while eating, easy access from dining room when you are using that. You just don't look at the kitchen floor and cabinets from your grand room area, and you get more kitchen counter and more options for where to put your sink. Hoping that all makes sense!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:23AM
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mcfromct: Regarding light, the ceilings on that Fuller plan are 10'/9', so with larger windows (or transoms), I'd expect lots of light.

Regarding the MBR locale, we like 4bd/3.5ba plans for the versatility they offer. With a full suite both upstairs and down, parents could reside upstairs while the kids are young, then transition downstairs when they're more independent. Or you could use the downstairs study as a nursery for the littlest. Ours are 4,8,10 and we'd welcome a little distance (they're early-birds.) [A main-level MBR will also be welcome when the kids are gone and the knees have worn out.]

BTW, you may also like some of the homes by Design/Build firm Tradition Homes. I found them when I was looking for images of classic styles with modern features.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tradition Homes

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:29AM
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briosafarm- kicking around plans is fun - it's like a puzzle where you're trying to think of how you're currently living, what works, what could use improvement and incorporate it all together, every detail (and there are a lot). I love it. I spend my down time studying them (yeah right - not with 3 little ones!). It's just so interesting and relaxing to me and analytical at the same time.
Ok, NOW I get what you mean about the U shape - it IS a great idea! The fridge is throwing me for a loop but I'm sure I could figure it out. I really like that idea!

oicu812-great idea to enlarge the windows in your Fuller design. If I could have a porch around my entire house I would! I think it's the most inviting feature there is...
As far as the master being up or down, I wish I could explain why I like it up??? I have to really think about it. I like your rationale though - having space from the kids esp when they're older is ideal!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:36PM
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    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 2:45PM
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Definitely. Along with the current idiotic obsession with granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and dark wood cabinets. It's a fad. Like avocado formica, it will look dated sooner than later.

Open floor plans result in everything in the vicinity of the kitchen/dining/living room smelling like cooked, stale food over time. Not to mention the fact that you can never, ever keep the room totally clean. Nevermind the fact that all the kitchen noise (blenders, can openers, microwaves, the sound of your single-piece granite counter top cracking because you dropped a pot on it, the sound of the stone masons replacing the ENTIRE counter top because you got one little crack in it, etc) all interfere with activities in the adjoining rooms.

It is a fad, propagated by HGTV, and it will soon go by the wayside, like everything does.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 12:13AM
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I don't think open plans will ever be passé but the bent kitchen counters at the intersection of a grand room and a dining room probably reached that distinction a few years ago.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 8:06AM
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Those "open" floor plans with the family room, dining room, and kitchen all in one line are frustrating and in my mind outdated. Why should I have to walk through the dining area to get to the kitchen? And the spaces feel like a bowling alley.

Other open floor plans are not out of style I don't think, though.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 4:48PM
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It's funny that this thread got reactivated today because I found it earlier this week and it gave me a lot of food for thought! The floorplan that is our top pick right now is VERY open - the most open we will ever have should we decide to build it.

When I discovered this thread I immediately showed it to my husband, and we debated the whole privacy/openness factor, the noise factor, and the cleanliness factor.

My husband didn't seem concerned about privacy. Right now, if people are in the TV room and someone doesn't want to be there, they go in the office to surf the net, or they go to their bedroom. So with a more open floorplan, that practice wouldn't change. But because my husband does occasionally work from home on weekends, this thread had us add "wall off and install french doors on office space" which before was completely open to the rest of the house.

As for noise, we're building a one-story house, so I'm not worried about noise traveling upstairs at all. But I do worry about the kids being kept awake when we have large parties that run late. However, in our current house the kids are able to sleep fine upstairs even with our large parties taking place in the room at the base of the stairs.

Now, the cleanliness factor is a big one. With a single story open floor plan, there is potential for people to see into my kids' rooms - which will probably be messy. Heck, they may even see into OUR bedroom - which is usually cluttered to some degree (but at least we make our bed every morning)!

But as for the rest of the house, I'm convinced that having an open floor plan will keep me more accountable.

Or at least, that's what I tell myself. *lol*

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 7:16PM
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I don't know about 'passe' but I do think smaller open areas (if that makes sense LOL) might be more popular, as it gets more expensive to heat such big spaces. While some people don't live in an area, where this may be a concern, I think big country kitchens, with a wood stove, might become more popular again. Also, nice large living/family rooms with a fireplace or other heat source.

Nothing against large, open spaces...I just don't know if we can afford to heat and cool them in the future. French doors, or even pocket doors, that can close off unused space, might be a good idea, too. Something to think about...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 11:40PM
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Just wanted to chime back in here now that we've lived in our home for 9 months. We have a semi-open floor plan. There are no 2 story entries or family rooms or vaulted ceilings. We wanted a cozier feel. We do have one huge open space for the living/dining/kitchen but everything else is well contained. We have plentry of hallways. There's an office in The back hall where someone can work quietly.

In the open space, sometime cooking noise interfere's with tv watching, or tv noise with conversation, but the tv is hardly ever on during the day anyway. And there are plenty of other private areas to escape to. So the semi-open floor plan works well for us.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 10:24AM
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"I honestly can't imagine why someone wouldn't want an open floor plan for entertaining."

And I would never purchase or live in an "open floor plan."

I have seen plenty of them, but not a single one that i would ever consider.

They have never been popular in some areas, while in others they seem to be 'de rigueur.'

Nether I nor my wife like split levels either, and simply refuse to even look at them anymore.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 10:29AM
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What an interesting discussion! Clearly a polarizing factor among people.

I've lived in an open floor plan rental and now my house is open except for a kitchen -- which is visually closed, though open enough that living+dining area can hear all the noise in there.

I'd say that there is no one-size-fits-all type of answer to this. An open plan is going to offer benefits according to your preferred lifestyle.

Also the definition of "open" floor plan is quite subjective. For example, one poster here wrote about french doors and their flexibility to make a space open or closed. In my mind, I had been always considering an open floor plan to be the one without *walls* that cannot be open and closed at will.

On the whole, in any situation, with a full knowledge of the needs of a family if you design an open space from scratch, it could work. Conversely, if open space was created by demolishing walls in an existing space, of course, it is going to be a sub-optimal solution, because the original structure was not built with openness in mind(as would be the case in my house, which is a pre-existing 60 year old house).

Two cases where open plans will continue to stick are in cities where you want to get more out of your available square footage, and secondly custom built homes designed to be open, where you have infinite design freedom, so you can design for a specific family's lifestyle.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:07PM
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I think they are likely to always be popular in very warm climates, like ours, where 'coziness' is not especially appealing compared with openness, loftiness, spaciousness and any other words that suggest cool and airy!
Being able to open the whole house up to the outdoors is a feature of our 'more outdoors than indoors' Florida lifestyle.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 5:11PM
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I agree that it is a personal preference but until you have lived in houses that are both closed off and open, you may not know what your personal preferences are till its too late.

Ive lived in both, very boxed off homes, with each room very seperate and compartmentalized, as well as a home with all rooms open. For the house im building, ive chosen something in between. The upstairs with bedrooms, laundry and bath, is very seperated from the downstairs. There are no valuted ceilings, lofts, etc. connecting the two spaces. Although I loved the look of vaulted ceilings, balconys, etc. the practical living piece (noise travelling up, no privacy and the cost to heat) didnt work for me.

As for the downstairs, I did a combo of closed and open. I found in the house that was too closed off (seperate rooms for everything) everyone congregated in the tiny kitchen. As for the house with everything open, there was never any privacy and hence, there were times when kids were over, they were forced to play in a bedroom just so others could watch tv in the open area. As a result, ive chosen a dining/kitchen area which is one big room with french doors connecting to the covered porch. This allows room to congregate and socialize in the kitchen and also reduced the need for a formal dining room (which from a square footage space, was just not going to work as well). Off of the dining side of this room is the living room, connected by two entry ways. You can actually stand at the kitchen island and see into the living room but they are still two very distinct areas. This to me was a bit of the best of both worlds.

I also agree that for those with small kids, thinking about how an open floor plan will work when these kids are teenagers might be a good idea as well.

Again, I agree it is all about personal preferences but for those who have not lived in a totally open plan, but love the look (I do think open plans with valuted ceilings, balconys, etc. are beautiful) the day in and day out of living in such a space might be something to think about.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 12:40PM
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I think there is a case to be made for open plans being less practical/desired. Heating and cooling costs, the trend towards smaller homes, and the rise in multigenerational homes all lend themselves to more walls. Personally I'm in the 'its a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there' camp. All the competing noises don't work for me.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:14PM
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