Let's Argue: Regret, Is An Open Floor Plan

Once upon a time in a land far, far, FAR away from planned communities built in less then 3 months...there were houses constructed with real 4-by-4's and a now-mythical feature called....

....WALLS.

Over the past decade these magnificent structural features have largely vanished from common areas. They've become the first complaint of buyers and the predictable first line in every God-blessed home renovation show.

Enter: the cheerful host, who seemingly never gets paint on her and who installs tile in $500 designer boots. She whisks into the "dated" home and announces: "First, we're going to take down these walls and give you an open space!"

Waddling Behind: The homeowner, who is somehow a school teacher with a $450K budget. He beams with anticipation before looking at his wife and jointly confirming: "Yeah it will be great to be able to watch the kids from the kitchen!"

In tow, we see their 2.5 children and that shelter dog named "Bailey" they just adopted last month.

For added effect, each member of the family gets the staged opportunity to put a hammer through that pesky plaster barrier standing between them and a generic home.

The parents high five the kids before skipping off (presumably to go find $450K). Off camera, Bailey-the-Shelter-Dog shits in the neighbor's yard.

Break for commercial.

Older homes are categorically labeled as "boxy" and both flippers and homeowners alike are eager to create one single box + bedrooms.

Mid-century houses were the first OFPs joining kitchen, dining and living rooms or, some combination of. Bonus points for the awkward one or two stair step-down between each which was to signal an imaginary separation of spaces.

Yes, they make a home bright and "airy" and yes, OFPs make it easier to lie to yourself about how delightfully social your home will be.

There you are at the house showing: You stand next to that bullshit "farm sink" you will probably pay extra for and imagine stirring risotto at the center island while still being able to chat (wine glass in hand) with friends just five feet away in the "living room."

Then you dream up an evening where you and your spouse are gleefully picking through your latest Blue Apron box - giggling over the fact that neither one of you knows what the fuck taggiasca olives really are - and still able to carefully watch over Annabelle and Kingston.

Here's reality.

Victorian vestibule adds safety and cuts down on utility waste

Reality is that walls equate to privacy. In a by-gone era architects put several magnificent barriers between guests and the reality of your home life.

A vestibule offered an extra level of safety, an added buffer to utilities draining out the door and frankly, a rather aesthetic area to greet people and either shut the door in the Jehovah Witness' face or welcome them in to take off their coats.

The "parlor" or living room of that day was designed for entertaining and you kept it that way - because back then we had our shit together.

Today you enter through someone's front door and BOOM - there it is: the whole fucking house.

You've not even let go of the door knob and you can watch a show on their 80" flat screen, see what's for dinner and get a preview of how their at-home business is doing - which they're running off that "farmhouse" dining room table/home office.

The way you see a house at a showing is not your life.

Your life is a stack of bills shoved under a pile of bananas, coffee cup ring marks on the counter, dishes in the sink and 'who the fuck was supposed to take out the garbage?!'

If you've actually ever made dinner (like with pots and pans) you know that your kitchen is a shit show of likely health code violations which you don't actually want your guests to see.

Moreover, an open floor plan is the equivalent to bottling up the smell of whatever is in the oven, pouring it into a Glade Plug-In and adding it to every room in the house. If you like garlic, onions, fish and leftover Chinese food you will never escape the lingering smell of Meatball/Beef Stew/Pecan Encrusted Salmon/Pu Pu Platter. It will seep into every seam of that Rooms To Go matchy couch set you bought and never leave.

Imagine a sexy "Netflix & Chill" night on your open floor plan sofa. You pull up a throw blanket to "get comfortable" and that creature you scrounged up off Tinder breathes in a big sexy wiff of Popcorn + Reheated Hot Dog.

At this crucial moment, "Let's get naked," said no woman ever.

Justifying an OFP because you want to watch over the kids is a temporary need you can not undo.

Did you birth Benjamin Button?

Are they only going to get smaller? Needier?

NO. They get bigger, resent you and spend all their time trying to get away from you. Choosing a massive OFP to play Helicopter Mom only fits an ephemeral situation. We have technology via digital room monitors that solve that problem.

"Great room" open floor plans combine kitchen, dining room and living room.

Particularly in cathedral ceiling OFPs (or "great rooms") there is no "fix" once the kids are grow or you decide you don't like uni-space. You can't add walls back in to that kind of ceiling line. Instead, it's easier to create middle ground solutions.

Big pocket doors, French doors or even a serving hatch (re: hole in kitchen wall to pass plates or set bar stools) give you the best of both worlds.

A serving hatch provides middle ground. Keep the kitchen mess concealed while keeping an eye on the kids and guests.

Keeping your walls intact allows you to create separate spaces that are a lot more fun to both decorate and experience.

It's also more compassionate on your utility bills, part of the reason "boxy" layouts got started. Have fun heating the vaulted ceiling encompassing a massive amount of square footage.

Granted, in a small or narrow house there may be little point to keeping a teeny tiny front room when you already have a "den" and it could add substantial kitchen space. And true, its hard to make a case for the formal dining room anymore. But the idea of integrating kitchen/dining/living into one space is trendy at best.

Walls give us privacy, a place to hang our family pictures and individual spaces that will host a lifetime of memories.

There's a reason we remember the anticipation of what grandma was making in the kitchen while we were off in the living room watching the Macy's Day Parade. We remember her telling us to get the hell out of her way if we got anywhere near her domain. And we actually pay money to tour historic homes where we can go room by room noting how unique and special each space was made to be.

Give it time. In a few years or in a future generation, not a single one of us will cherish the moments where we could spot both an air-drying breast milk pump in the dish bin and the remains of half-finished school homework splayed out on the dining room table...all while watching the Super Bowl.

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