For many years, newspaper real estate sections included the much sought after building description “open floor plan,” touting homes with no walls. I happen to like rooms.
For many years, newspaper real estate sections included the much sought after building description “open floor plan,” touting homes with no walls. If you are lucky enough to live in a home with no walls, I am sure it is wonderful, although, as an old fashioned girl, I happen to like rooms. I like the individuality that is created in separate, self-contained spaces. There is something inherently enjoyable walking from one area of my home into another, experiencing different moods - harmony in the bedroom, history in the kitchen, stimulating chaos in my office, and best of all, conviviality in my dining room.
I purchased my traditional neo-Colonial in the mid-90s. This was a time when the open floor plan was just coming into its own, and the previous owners had knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, fulfilling the trend of doing all things together - cooking, eating, laughing, and cleaning up. In practice, this means you are constantly aware of soaking sauce pans in the sink, while you are eating your meal.
Dining rooms may not be fashionable, but they are civilized. And, they are intimate. If you are sharing a lovely cooked meal with your partner, you can create a far more romantic mood in a cozy room, rather than at one end of a cavernous expanse. If you are sitting down to a traditional family dinner, focusing on the individuals around the table comes much more naturally in a space dedicated to dining, especially when there is no TV hanging on the wall. And isn’t it nice to enjoy a wonderful meal without having to look at its remnants remaining on the kitchen counters?
The open floor plan does have its advantages. How easy it is to locate that missing child or errant pet.
Privacy in the bedroom, though, can come with some challenges. I have seen plans that incorporate three-quarter walls surrounding the sleeping chamber, but most of them have the bed sitting right out in the open, for all to enjoy. Open floor plan living does provide lots of space for entertaining, but really no place to call a library or an intimate space to curl up, read a book, and enjoy a cup of tea.
I am most sad to see the loss of the dining room, and with it, that traditional setting for what used to be called a “dinner party.” Creating a warm and inviting environment is conducive to bringing people together over dinner. And, of course, the designer in me relishes that dramatic and satisfying motion of throwing open a door and glimpsing a room filled with all the welcoming sights of the dinner table, the shining cutlery, sparkling glassware, and flickering candlelight. They create an air of anticipation before the meal has even arrived.
So, if you are lucky enough to own a home with a traditional floor plan, one with real walls, try not to take them down. Keep those spaces special - the entrance hall, the den, the living room, and especially the dining room!
Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her website: patriciacove.com.