An open concept floor plan is great for some families. You can see from the front to the back of the home, and the space looks bigger at a glance. But before you grab a sledge hammer and remove a wall, it’s worth taking a look at some of the downsides.

We are seeing a return to structure and divided spaces in our homes- especially with a lot of us still wanting to work from home. A dedicated space for each person to work or study is a must!

Have you ever sat down to read a good book only to hear the television from one end of the room, the blender going at the other, and thought you might lose your mind just trying to get some peace and quiet? While an open and connected space allows for better communication, traffic flow, and light, it can come with some real down-sides.

It is easy to debate when open concept living originated, but in Toronto, as in many other urban areas, it gained momentum in the 1980s and 90s. Victorian and Edwardian homes, prevalent in our city, yielded long narrow layouts with rooms dedicated to a single-function.

But contemporary lifestyles were changing and we wanted more connection between spaces. If you think about it, roles were changing, too. The traditional housewife sequestered to the kitchen wanted to participate in family playtime. Meal prep was becoming more of a family event where everyone chipped in.

Dining rooms became homework spaces, and the TV landed in a living room that was designed for parlour entertaining before TV even existed. It all just didn’t fit without moving some walls. An open concept floor plan seemed like a good idea but consider a few of the downsides…


Problem 1: Unpleasant Noise and Smells Are Not Contained

Privacy: Without a doubt, this is the first challenge that comes to mind. Haven’t we all had to struggle with multiple people working or studying from home while sharing one open space? With everyone in sight and earshot, finding privacy for quiet work or to study has been a real challenge.

Noise: The lack of interior walls means sound will travel and bounce about with nothing to stop it.

Smells: Cooking spaces used to have doors for a reason!


Problem 2: Significantly More Expensive

There are additional costs to creating a home with an open concept floor plan, so it is worth really looking at the pros and the cons. If a wall is structural, it is substantially more expensive to remove it and find another way to provide adequate structural support with beams.

Even if walls are not load-bearing, there are costs to be considered. Gaps in the flooring and the ceiling will need to be filled…quickly you’ll see the budget growing. Adding to the cost, any design choices need to be considered within the context of the entire space.

Heating and cooling a large, open space is also more costly. Higher utility bills may be an unexpected increase, too. The cost of relocating duct work and vents will add a lot to your renovation bill.


Problem 3: More Challenging to Maintain

Living in an open space can be a new adventure in figuring out how to keep it looking nice. Without walls, it is difficult to contain messes and hide clutter from visiting guests. There is no place for anything to hide. Last night’s dishes, toys on the floor…there is nothing to block the view, and it isn’t always good!

If you’re the kind of person who can’t put your feet up and relax when the house is messy, know that keeping an open concept home tidy can be a bigger job than you might think.

One challenge that stops me in my tracks is the lack of places to hang artwork. There already never seems to be enough walls to hand art on. Why would someone want to give up any of them?

Personally, I am a big fan of cozy, intimate rooms like the dining room. Who doesn’t enjoy a space where family and friends come together over meals, connect, and slow down? I love a space that is dedicated to this purpose!


Choosing the Right Floor Plan for You

There are certainly advantages to removing a wall or two, especially if you like to host big events. Just remember that your space will be larger, but also noisier. Talk to your design professional before you make changes to the structure of your home to make sure you have thought through all the angles. Remember, there are plenty of ways to make a small space feel bigger, too.

If you would like some support designing your perfect home floor plan, we would love to help. Reach out and let’s get to know each other.