While catching up on some home design-related reading over the holidays, we came upon this piece from CityLab, making a case for rooms. “It’s time to end the tyranny of open-concept interior design,” it offers.
This is a subject that, being Nashville real estate agents, comes up a lot for us. People either love open home layouts (and over the past decade and change, that’s been a lot of people), or they hate them with a burning passion. Rarely do we meet a “meh” about open-concept home designs.
CityLab’s Kate Wagner seems to sit decidedly in the anti camp, but the piece digs deep into how and why the now seemingly omnipresent open concept came to be. From the piece:
“The interior-wall-free open concept became popular starting in the 1970s, evolving from the cedar contemporary homes known for their tall ceilings and windows, and from styled ranches whose steeper rooflines allowed for newly in-vogue cathedral ceilings. Overall, the open concept was a reaction against years of small, low-ceilinged living, which felt restricting and stuffy to a new generation of homebuyers.”
Architecture and history buffs will definitely enjoy the piece, which lives at citylab.com, and covers anything from building materials and styles to lifestyles, from the 1920s up to the rapidly approaching 2020s.
But is the open concept really on the way down?
Throughout 2018, a slew of Nashville homebuyers came to us with an open layout on their must-have list. Circumstantial evidence, at least in the real estate market here in Nashville and in our professional experience, seems to point to open-concept living still having plenty of strength.
But nationally, and in the coming years, are ample walls really coming back into vogue? More folks than just CityLab seem to think so. In September, The Inquirer in Philadelphia asked, “Is 2018 the beginning of the end of the open-concept floor plan?” From that piece:
“Trends aren’t meant to last forever. And some area brokers, designers and architects have noticed a shift over the last couple years: More buyers are searching for a closed or a hybrid floor plan — one that provides for at least some separation of rooms.”
A month prior, MarketWatch asked, “Is it time to close the door on open-concept homes?” and focused on architecture blogger Kate Wagner’s firm leaning toward “yes.”
As for us: We’ll stay in the rare space of not taking an open-concept side, because to us, whether an open-concept design works really depends. It depends on the needs of the homeowners, the way they live and work, the aesthetics they gravitate toward and what their priorities are.
A few of the things buyers tend to weigh out:
Pros of open-concept design
— It gives a home a breezy, airy vibe that tends to make the space feel larger.
— It makes entertaining a breeze, since you have a wide open space for people to congregate, and everyone won’t get trapped in the kitchen.
— It gives you the chance to feel and enjoy the square footage of your dining room even if you use it sparingly. (Wasted formal dining room square footage is a gripe we’ve heard from a lot of Nashville homeowners and homebuyers through the years.)
— If you have kids, you can keep an eye on them easily, even when you’re cooking or doing the dishes.
Cons of open-concept design
— You have to keep all the rooms cleaner, especially the kitchen, if people tend to pop by and you don’t like to show off messes.
— It’s harder to find privacy, if you like a little zen in the kitchen and your family likes to blare the game in the living area.
— The lack of defined spaces can make decor and arranging furniture more of a challenge for some homeowners, especially if you generally struggle with home design.
So, an open-concept design might be for you, or it might not. It might be on its way out, after a long period of dominance, or it might have plenty of life left.
Here in Nashville, we think there are still more than a few open-concept takers, and a healthy share of historic home lovers who want things just as they were back when the home was built, walls and halls and all. And whatever you’re personally drawn to, we’d love to help you find the right fit for you.