The old open floor plan -- the floor plan that combines the living and dining areas, and maybe even the kitchen too. Is it always better to convert to an open floor plan? How open is too open? Do partial walls count? And how should one even approach a room to convert to open floor plan?
Is it always better to convert to an open floor plan?
No. In some situations, of course it is more appropriate to keep the walls up. When is it right to convert a floor to an open floor plan? It's right to convert a floor to an open floor plan when you keep your house clean. I am serious. Do you have a lot of junk? There will be nowhere to hide it in an open floor plan. Whatever you have will need to be stacked in closets, and nobody has enough closets. The Queen of England does not have enough closets. There are no closets that can tame the beast if you are used to keeping stuff stacked in the corners.
Bear in mind that noise travels through open floor plans. Do your kids watch a lot of television? Do you prefer to have quiet time in the kitchen while you cook? Remember that walls are sound barriers. You will sacrifice the quiet of being in a separate room if you convert to an open floor plan.
While open floor plans are great for entertaining in, you also will lose your private cleanup area. Do you want your guests to be able to see the dirty dishes in your kitchen? And that's not just applicable to entertaining. Sometime you just want to leave the dishes in the sink for the night, and leave the kitchen. With an open floor plan, you can never really ignore the state of the kitchen.
How open is too open?
I'd encourage you to keep some kind of boundary between the kitchen and the rest of the floor. If your bedroom is also on the floor, I would encourage you to leave the walls up around it for privacy.
Do partial walls count?
Many an open floor plan incorporates partial walls to create zones in the room. Kitchen islands are a type of partial wall that work in open floor plans, as are breakfast nooks. Fireplaces in the center of the room can break up an open floor plan with a large hearth. Very wide open doorways can also be used as partial walls. Before you convert to open floor plan, consider how much you want to spend on partial walls to break up the space into zones.
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Chaya Kurtz writes for Networx.com. Photo by maine-homeseller/Flickr.