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SCROGGS BLOG // All Sides Considered: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Concept vs Traditional Floor Plans

Does your home have an open concept or a traditional floor plan? Were aspects like natural light or spaciousness on your house-hunting “must-haves” list?  While many homeowners prefer the feeling of one style over the other, they may not know why. 

Open concepts are today’s standard for new home construction and the source of many major remodeling projects. But is an open floor plan right for you and your family? 

What Is A Traditional Floor Plan?

Traditional floor plans were the dominant trend in homebuilding for hundreds of years until the emergence of open concepts in the mid-20th century. A few hundred years ago, having separate, one-use rooms in your home was considered a sign of great wealth.

The hallmarks of the traditional floor plan include using walls and barriers to create distinct rooms, each with a defined purpose. In a traditional floor plan, the dining, kitchen, and living rooms are separated by walls. Each space is intended for a particular use with little to no activity overlap.

Despite vilification by some home remodelers, there are many pros to traditional floor plans, which may make it the perfect choice for your living space. Consider the following advantages and disadvantages before you decide to remodel:

Advantages:

  • Naturally Cozy: Traditional floor plans lend themselves to snug, more intimate spaces that are innately warm and inviting.
  • More Chance For Design: With walled rooms, homeowners have more opportunities to make full use of space for design and decor.
  • Lots of Privacy: With clear visual divisions, homeowners can relax without being disturbed by what’s happening in the next room. This can create an enhanced sense of peace and tranquility. 
  • Less Auditory and Visual Noise: With dividing walls, the dining room becomes simply the dining room. You’re not distracted by the kids’ homework spread all over the living room floor when you sit down to eat a meal. Additionally, walls naturally dampen noise and allow for quiet and focused moments free of disturbances from other parts of the home. 
  • Better Temperature Control: Well-placed vents in smaller rooms allow for better temperature regulation, conserving energy and saving money.

Considerations

  • Less Natural Light: Rooms may be darker if they do not have windows as there is little to no shared natural light between living areas. 
  • Potentially Isolating: While there is ample privacy, a closed-concept layout might make it harder to socialize. This can be a downside if you enjoy hosting large gatherings.
  • Less Layout Flexibility: Rearranging furniture, swapping out pieces, or finding the right layout can be more challenging with doors, walls, or arches separating rooms.
smiling family of five walks out of their traditional house in the suburbs

Keeping An Open Concept Mind

The open floor plan as we know it today emerged in the early to mid-1900s due to changing societal and relational dynamics, a growing population of homeowners, and a necessity for multipurpose spaces in the home. During this time, residential lots were slowly getting smaller and required more economical use of square footage.

An open floor plan is constructed by joining two or more common spaces to form one large area—removing partitionings like walls and doors and having minimal (if any) barriers between the living areas. Usually, the rooms have separate but related functions. For instance, the kitchen, dining, and living rooms are commonly combined to create one Great Room.

Vaulted ceilings and exposed heavy-duty beams are aesthetic components of open concepts. The delineation between the living spaces is usually more subtle and may include kitchen islands and peninsulas, a set of short stairs, a handrail, different paint colors, a set of columns, or an accent wall.

The popularity of open concepts has steadily grown over the past 50-60 years and is now the standard in new home construction. But what exactly are the pros and cons of open floor plans?

Advantages:

  • Open and Spacious: A large room with no dividing walls gives the feeling of more openness and better flow between living areas. It gives the illusion of being spacious, even if the square footage suggests otherwise.
  • Maximizes Social Space: Hosting large gatherings is easier when everyone has a place to stand or sit in the same space. This also encourages communication and socialization.
  • Maximizes Natural Light: Natural light can flow easily throughout the space, cutting down on electric usage and even creating passive solar heating.
  • Child Safety: It’s easier for parents cooking dinner to keep an eye on their kiddos playing in the living room. 
  • Layout Flexibility: Moving furniture around without pesky walls getting in the way is easier. There’s also more freedom to expand areas if needed.

Considerations:

  • Can Be Distracting: It can be challenging to focus on cooking dinner while the kids are doing homework or playing video games in the living room. Additionally, one big room means there are no doors for messy areas to hide behind and no escape from cluttered views.
  • Poor Sound Control: Without natural sound barriers like walls, noise can travel and disrupt family members trying to enjoy quiet moments.
  • Less Privacy: One large shared area means fewer places to hide, which can be difficult for those who enjoy alone time. 
  • Potentially More Expensive: Unless paired with energy-efficient supporters like fans, well-placed vents, and fireplace inserts or a gas fireplace, open-concept homes can be more costly to heat and cool than traditional floor plans.
happy family of four sits together on their living room sofa

Is An Open Concept Right For Me?

Now we return to answer the question, “Is an open concept right for me?” Traditional and open-concept floor plans have their merits and drawbacks, and there’s no right or wrong answer about which design style is better. What matters is how you intend to use the space.

Do you value peaceful, quiet alone time, and a visually clutter-free home? A traditional floor plan may be what you’re looking for. Or do you love to host large parties and your favorite part of the day is when the family is gathered together for quality time? In that case, an open concept is the way to go.

Only you can decide what’s right for you and your home. However, if you desire a professional second opinion, schedule your free consultation with Scroggs Construction today! Our team possesses more than 100+ years of collective building experience so you can feel confident your home is always in capable hands.