Is the door closing on open floor plans?

Home Improvement


NEW YORK – Aug. 22, 2017 – Open floor plans – which typically combine the kitchen, living room and dining room in one large, open area – have dominated home design trends in recent years. But buyers may now be starting to shun this type of layout, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

"While [the open floor plan] was successful in allowing multiple generations to congregate, it also led to consolidated visual chaos," says New York-based designer Phillip Thomas. Some designers say the "helicopter" parenting style – parents seeking to keep a more watchful eye over their children – may have led to the open floor plan's popularity. But some parents may now be finding that they need more personal space.

Jen Altman, a child and family psychologist in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., says the pendulum is beginning to swing away from helicopter parenting, with many of her adult clients saying, "I just need 10 minutes to myself."

Such an attitude may be influencing a rise in the "broken floor plan," which London architect Mary Duggan describes as large spaces with an element such as a three-quarter height wall to section off areas.

Some designers may also use barn doors or pocket doors (sliding doors that tuck inside walls) to close off an open floor plan when needed. Pivoting glass and curtains are other ways to section off space.

"It's hard to get away from the open plan because of the way we live," says Los Angeles-based designer Karen Vidal, who converted her family's detached garage into a "mom cave." "It's the space where everyone congregates – meals are prepared, kids do their homework."

But she has found that cordoning off an area for her mom cave is critical for her peace of mind. "It's a bit of separation from being on top of one another. It helps me focus."

Source: "The Open-Floor-Plan Backlash: How Family Members Are Escaping Each Other," The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 17, 2017) [Log-in required.]

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