Open Concept Floor Plans: Hot or Not?

The real estate market has seen its ups and downs in the last ten years. Free falling mortgage rates and foreclosures cast a damper on the market, alongside layoffs and companies sending their products off to Taiwan or China to be made. Recently there has been a spate of articles assuring home hunters that rates are coming down, credit doesn’t have to be letter perfect to obtain a mortgage, and if home hunters have a job, they can get a mortgage. Even more articles describe how to apply for a no down payment mortgage.

After so many years of bad news and worse news on the real estate front, home seekers are hopeful again.  Certain aspects of the houses for which they’re hunting are as important as that hope, such as the open concept floor plan. It begs the question in projected real estate trends: will the open concept floor plan remain hot?

History of the Open Concept Floor Plan

It is widely accepted that life began in the African-Middle East and Eastern Europe area. Family members numbered in the teens at times, with most all of them living in the same quarters. The great room contained a casual gathering area and kitchen, which was where the family spent most of their time. Now fast forward to the Dark Ages. Families were smaller and dwellings larger, but families still gathered in great rooms. The men at arms worked on their swordplay and maintained their weapons. The family performed their everyday chores like sewing and tending the young. The castle owners kept up with whoever ruled at the time, doing what little paperwork there was and keeping an eye on their wealth. All this was done in a cavernous great room.

Not much has changed over the last few hundred years. Castles became cabins in the New World (still with one communal room). These morphed into plantations in the South, Mediterranean type homes in the West and Tudor or Federal homes in the North. In those days, one couldn’t throw a ball without having some kind of open space for guests to wander about drinking and socializing. Today, socializing and networking is just as important. Thus, the open concept floor plan.

The Open Concept Floor Plan by the Numbers

In a time when the inventory is so low, builders are scrambling to add to it. Over 80 percent of builders report that they build homes with at least the kitchen and family room is somewhat open with partial walls, counters or islands as dividers. Over 50 percent say that this area is totally open, with no walls at all. As for home seekers, 70 percent admit they want a totally or partially open kitchen-family room area. Over 30 percent wanted a completely open kitchen-family room area. Less than 20 percent of home seekers said they wanted the kitchen and family room separate from each other. Alternatively, those who remodel homes report that the majority of their work (almost half) involves knocking out walls, taking out arches and otherwise opening up the kitchen-living space for an open concept floor plan.

Benefits of Open Concept Floor Plans are Still Viable

Babies will always need an eye kept on their exploring natures. Family members will always want to talk to whoever is cooking in the kitchen or doing homework at the dining room table. Visitors will always want to include those in the kitchen in the conversation. Otherwise, there are more advantages to an open concept floor plan that will ensure the feature remains hot:

  • Natural light. It has mental and physical health benefits as well as lighting up your life
  • Socializing and networking while working in the kitchen is much easier
  • Space for large families to gather without rubbing elbows
  • More room to hang artwork or arrange statuary or sculpture

There are Disadvantages to an Open Concept Floor Plan, Too

Alternatively, the closed-floor plan has its charms as well. Each family should counsel with each other to divine which is best for them:

  • It’s not easy to heat and cool such a huge open space
  • Clutter will be multiplied by how much space it has to occupy
  • Noise will be echoed off the walls if someone is watching TV, playing an iPod AND practicing for the school’s holiday sing-along simultaneously
  • While you’re creating in the kitchen, guests will clearly see the dirty dishes and pans piling up in the sink

It’s About Definition

Builders and remodelers have turned to designing spaces with specific function. For example, what’s the use of an open concept kitchen and family room when there is no provision for basic function? In other words, where will homeowners plug in all the small appliances not to mention storing them? Where will the kids plug in their smart phones, MP3 players or game consoles in the family space? Builders and remodelers are looking into defining each space by incorporating building techniques to fill the voids left by open concept floor plans. Additionally, a move is being made toward second kitchens. Open spaces may remain open, clean and tidy for social gatherings, while the real work is going on in a separate kitchen.

It’s About Global Popularity

Innovations in technology, dress, automobiles and other things made their way around the world slowly in the past. With the advent of the Internet and satellite or cable TV, ideas travel the globe in a flash. People can even stream their favorite television shows on their smartphones as well as manage their smart homes. Many of those shows are on HGTV, the home and garden channel dedicated exclusively to the home. Its shows are often filmed around the world, as home hunters search for their perfect dream house in whatever country in which they want to live.

The channel’s most popular shows, however, deal with tearing up a house and putting it back together. Flips, remodels, we-need-more-room house searches and rarely seen rebuilds (but they show them sometimes) constitute the majority of the house shows. These shows contribute to the around-the-world flash of people wanting open concept floor plans. Not only that, but decorating design makes its way around the globe with shades of gray in paint, tile and floor coverings. Innovations in landscaping and outdoor rooms complete the shows before viewers see prospective owners tour the homes.

It’s simple human nature to want to belong to a group of some type. Mankind is a social creature, largely because he doesn’t want to be alone for any reason. People buy houses with open concept floor plans not necessarily because they want to keep an eye on baby, but because they feel they are “one” with the Americans, the English, the Germans, and any other nationality sharing this need for wide open space and explosions of natural light in the house.

Dwellings adapt to changing times just like families change. When the kids are in college and the parents comfortably settled nearby, open concept floor plans will be unnecessary. Another young family will come along and recognize open concept charms for their own use. While conventional homes with doors leading into separate rooms will be needed by someone, we project that the open concept floor plan will be needed by someone as well.

At Realty Executives by Realty Choice we know Springfield real estate. We know what is trending now, and we can predict what will trend in the near future. Let us know what you think about the open concept floor plan for your own family when you contact us to learn more about it.

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