top of page
  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

The Pros & Cons of an Open Floor Plan

An open, flowing space or cozier, more private rooms? That might be the question a homeowner is struggling with if building a new house. As a Triangle-area interior designer, I work with many new construction luxury homeowners and builders. I understand the struggle many homeowners face between the two concepts.

There are two main types of floor plans: an open floor plan and a closed one. They are distinctly different, and each has pros and cons. However, given the prominence of open floor plans in the last two decades, I'd like to discuss open floor plans in this blog post.

To make an informed decision when building (or buying) a home, it's essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of an open floor plan. Your home's layout goes beyond the configuration of its walls. A floor plan also affects an indoor space's ambiance, lighting, and acoustics. It can affect how you use a room and feel within it. So, what is an open floor plan?

Defining an Open Floor Plan

An open floor plan - or open-flow concept - is an architectural concept that involves merging two or more rooms in a home by eliminating the internal partition walls, creating one large, open space. The most commonly combined rooms are the living room, dining room, and kitchen. In homes where retaining a formal living room and/or dining room is desired, the family room and an eat-in kitchen can be merged instead. The space created by combining these rooms is dubbed a Great Room.

Advantages of Open Floor Plans

There can be numerous advantages to an open floor plan. It can be an ideal concept depending on a homeowner's daily lifestyle and how they like to entertain.

  1. A large, undivided room offers a lot of versatility for using the space.

  2. Combining smaller rooms into one space can make a home look (and feel) more spacious.

  3. Open floor plans benefit from a lot of natural light since fewer walls and doors block sunlight.

  4. Without the restrictions of interior walls, there is more flexibility in using the space. By not having walls, you can make the most of the room.

  5. Well-designed open floor plans can have good resale value and remain popular with families.

  6. Many, if not most, new construction homes today feature open floor plans. Some include a separate formal living or dining room, only combining the family room and eat-in kitchen spaces.

  7. Open floor plans are ideal for entertaining. The absence of interior partition walls facilitates a smooth traffic flow throughout the space. Guests can see directly from the living area to the kitchen. The host can be involved in food prep in the kitchen while interacting with guests.

Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans

What sounds ideal can be challenging, though. Here are the down-sides of an open floor plan:

  1. It's easy to hide some clutter when you can close the door to a room. An open floor plan means no doors between certain spaces, making it more challenging to hide clutter. You will need to rely on strategically placed storage - or keep your house clean!

  2. An open kitchen is exposed to the rest of the space, including strong food odors, dirty dishes in the sink, and messy countertops. Do you want that visible to guests if you tend to leave a mess after food prep?

  3. Walls help support your home's roof or upper floors. If you're building an open floor plan home, the lack of partition walls creates special engineering needs, which can add to construction costs. Steel beams and other reinforcements will be needed to support the second floor or roof.

  4. Climate control in an open space is different than in smaller rooms. Large rooms present particular challenges to appropriately heat or cool that should be considered when planning the HVAC system.

  5. Without walls and doors to contain noise, it's open flow for everything, including noise. Homeowners should consider how they live in their homes, their family size, and even their children's ages to decide if an open plan is ideal.

  6. Art collectors will have fewer walls in an open floor plan to display their art.

While there are many advantages to an open floor plan, not all homeowners may find them suitable to their needs. It is essential to carefully evaluate your needs for your new home and be mindful of the possible downsides of having an open floor plan.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about which floor plan concept might be best for you. I'd be happy to discuss your project with you.


bottom of page