Many homes today feature an “open concept” layout, also called an open floor plan. You’ll see it all over when you look for home remodeling ideas on Houzz or social media, and it’s one of the features homeowners ask about most when they start thinking about updates to their home. The term most often refers to a kitchen that opens to a dining area and a great room, usually completely eliminating a separate dining room and living room.

Open floor plan kitchen and great room

Open floor plan by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

Is an open floor plan right for you?

Before you start thinking about which walls to tear down, there are some things about open concept home designs you should consider. While many people love the light and bright spaces that are great for busy families and for entertaining, open floor plans are not a perfect fit for every style of home, every family, or every lifestyle.

We have some suggestions for how to deal with living in wide open spaces.

Flexibility or Chaos?

With an open kitchen and great room, you can cook and watch the kids or converse with guests at the same time. You can move furniture around in whatever configuration you want or need and create multi-functional spaces. But when you have an all-in-one area for cooking, dining, and relaxing, there’s the danger of having a lot of “stuff” out in the open for all to see. To avoid a cluttered look, you need to plan in some smart storage solutions as part of the design process.

remodeled custom kitchen

Open floor plan by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

So, when planning your kitchen remodel, think about how much storage you’ll really need to conceal the mess that usually accompanies meal prep. Custom cabinets with specialized storage are the perfect way to keep your counters as clear as you want them to be. Built-in custom cabinetry is also great in the family room for keeping electronics, their cords and accessories, and lots of other items of daily life in check.

remodeled open floor plan custom kitchen

Open floor plan by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

Having the kitchen sink in a large center island is handy in an open floor plan, but if you tend to have dirty pots pile up or a drying rack that always seems to be filled with dishes, consider keeping the sink on the perimeter of the room instead. It’s less likely to draw attention than when it’s front and center.

You can still get away from it all

It’s a good idea to create some visual (or physical) zones with furniture groupings, area rugs, and even the use of light fixtures. Add a little bump-out nook with room for a comfy chair and side table or a window seat. Look at under-utilized space in other parts of the home that can be designed for when someone longs for some “me time.”

Bedroom with skylight windows

Photo courtesy Andersen Windows

With spaces such as a guest bedroom that doesn’t get used too often, a finished basement or a cozy attic getaway, you can have some quiet space to yourself, a den with another TV, or a playroom for times you don’t need to keep a close eye on the kids.

If you have questions, we have answers

When we consult on a remodeling project, we ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening. Then we analyze your needs and make suggestions based on the real-world solutions and remodeling projects we’ve successfully completed for our satisfied clients. So, before you jump on the bandwagon of open concept floor plans, or any trend you find intriguing, give us a call and we’ll design what’s just right for your home and your family.