The Closing of the Open Concept?

The ultimate open floor plan house designed by Shigeru Ban.

A big thanks to Professor Nic for alerting me to the Boston Globe’s coverage of one of my pet issues, “People in open-concept homes are realizing the walls were there for a reason.” Apparently, “the pendulum is swinging back” towards the old fashioned concept of walls. There’s even a hashtag, #OpenConceptRemorse.

Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell covered the history of the open concept in a City Lab article from last year, “The Case for Rooms.” As Wagner points out in her article, bungalows like the one we live in often had an open living room/dining room arrangement.

Last year I restored our two front rooms to their previous, 1920s openness. At some point in the drywall era the opening was plugged up to make another bedroom.

Here’s the before pic above.

The dusty during pic.

And what our house looks like now.

Wagner also points out that while some bungalows had two open front rooms there were still plenty of walls. The kitchen was always walled off.

On a related note, I need to devote a future post to the mysterious disappearance of molding. For now let’s just say it’s so easy to spit out with a table saw that I don’t know why the house flippers hate on it so much.

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14 Comments

  1. Lovely looking rooms. Quiet restraint and dignity. Pretty wallpaper – looks like Bradbury and Bradbury. KonMari would be proud. So would Gustav Stickley.

  2. I have long been skeptical about the open plan idea.
    You see flippers quickly decide to remove walls all the time.
    Maybe it looks nice at first sight, but the problem comes when you have to live with it long term and find it is far from ideal.

  3. My tract house is very open downstairs. I always say it feels like a barn; there is no where to get cozy unless one goes to bed. The kitchen noises annoy when you are trying to do anything else — like a new, high power dual-fuel stove with an automatic exhaust fan that keeps going as we sit down to dinner with guests in the next non-room…

    The ranch house of my childhood had a large living-dining room but as you say, the kitchen was at least walled in with doors on three walls.

    I like the way you’ve opened up your rooms, and you still have some walls to put pictures on 🙂

  4. When I look at the ultimate open floor plan house, all I can think of is having some water on the floor and sliding right off the edge. It makes me nervous to look at that photo.
    The work that you have done on your house has the opposite effect on me. The end result is beautiful and peaceful-looking. The picture rail looks great, too!

  5. Your living room looks so serene, as well as restful and inviting. I’m slightly amazed to say that about a room that includes wallpaper! Usually it seems too busy, but in your house, it adds to the sense of coziness and welcome.

  6. while i get having some areas open (the dining room to living room flow in your house looks lovely and makes sense), i cannot for the life of me fathom why you would have a kitchen open into …. anything. we went to an open house next door to us, and they’d converted the layout from sensible (house was identical to ours, with two bedrooms, eat in kitchen, and living room, each on their own), to an “open concept” kitchen/dining/living room and the two bedrooms separate. my husband had to shush me when i loudly announced that i’d hate to have my couch covered in bacon grease, which would certainly happen in their layout.

  7. The change is so dramatic and wonderful. I love all the molding and look forward to that discussion. We want to do molding in our home, but there are a number of other projects that must come first. I’m also making note of the picture rail and how you’ve hung the artwork. Definitely something I want to try.

    • I really love the picture rail. It’s so much better than poking holes in the wall to hang stuff. And it makes moving the art around so easy.

  8. Thanks for the link to McMansion Hell, athough I lost an hour of my life down the schadenfruede rabbit hole.

  9. I like open concept–but only to a point. I have people over about once a week, between church and neighbors and kids’ friends. And I find everybody wants to hang out in my tiny, messy kitchen, every time. My next home project is to build a dining addition partially open to the kitchen, for hanging out and making stuff and doing homework. The current living/dining room would be a “quiet space” for private conversations, reading or watching tv. Kind of the ideia of an eat-in farm kitchen, I guess?

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