Trend Alert: Is it the End of the Open Concept Living Space,Yay or Nay?

House Beautiful

Last November when I picked up the December/January issue of House Beautiful magazine, I was intrigued to read Eddie Ross’ article on Edgewood Hall, the house he’s renovating with his partner Jaithan. This is what he said:

Jaithan and I peered through a dimly lit corridor towards the kitchen. A tangle of small rooms shrouded the front of the house, while the combined kitchen-family room from an earlier renovation was open and bright.

Every single friend and design pro we invited for a hard hat tour said the same thing, “You’re going to open this all up, right?”

Call me traditional, but no! I’ll take rooms that unfold throughout a house–albeit imperfectly–over an open concept floor plan any day.

It’s often difficult to make an open plan work.  How do you know when to stop one paint colour and start another? Can you do stripes in the kitchen and a floral in the living area?

Ask any decorator–it’s hard for us too!

For me, rooms just work. I like a distinct foyer that sets the tone for a house.  Closing off the dining room–and the dirty dishes–to join my guests in the living room for dessert.

I like a garden room packed with plants, a year-round oasis. Imagine cramming all that into a single open area! Now I have all sorts of little spaces to express my big love for style.

Why settle for a great room when you can have great rooms instead? Eddie Ross on Instagram.

There’s an article about this very conversation we send to everyone who registers into one of my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops. It also mentions scale and the upstairs balcony and double story height great rooms and how they are in fact NOT ‘human scale’.

Trend Alert: Is it the End of the Open Concept Living Space,Yay or Nay?

One participant was in the middle of a new build when she registered for the workshop. When my email arrived, she had just told her architect that she wanted to be able to install a 10 ft Christmas tree in her great room.

After she read the article she called him back and said “Stop, stop, time out, time out”.

When we renovated our house six years ago, the contractor immediately suggested we open up the space from the kitchen to the dining room, which adjoins our living room. “Why would I want to do that”, I said? “It gives me less wall space for cabinetry in the kitchen and I’m already opening up the doorway between the kitchen/family room.”

The big trend now in painted interiors is choosing a white greige for the main living areas and then colour for actual rooms, like bedrooms, bathrooms and maybe the dining room if it’s not open too. The primary reason why this is happening is because open concept homes are extremely popular!

And this house with this doozie of a kitchen one of my eDesign clients recently inherited validates what we’re talking about here, check it out:


The other trend that was big in the 90s was ROUNDED CORNERS. Very bad for transitioning paint colour. My advice to you if you MUST switch from one colour to another is draw a line in the middle of the corner. It’s really the only thing you can do if you can’t get someone in to fix them.

source (love the clean, classic and timeless fireplace)

The Bottom Line

So here’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with your open concept floor plan (if you have one), there are pros and cons to both, however I think perhaps a combination could also be fabulous. it’s something to consider if you are planning a new build!

Over to you my lovelies, what do you think? Yay or Nay to open concept design?

This week I was fortunate to be featured in USA Today in an article about kitchens written by Cindy Bailen, read it here. 

PS. The early bird rate for my Spring Specify Colour with Confidence workshops ends next Tuesday, February 13, 2017. Register here now to attend the best colour training in the world. The price will be going  up this Fall.

Related posts:

The 4 Best Whites for Your Open Plan House

Should Your Great Room Fireplace Relate to the Kitchen

10 Steps for Planning Your New Build



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  1. Never been a fan of open concept houses.. especially the kitchen. Cooking baking canning freezing dehydrating not to mention prep and transport or the forgotten concept of hygienic practice with foods. I do not want my guests or most family members having ability to touch everything in kitchen. And electronics do not mix with process’s of CLEAN foods. Open cocept kitchen along with an island concept allows ‘unclean’ practices to flourish; not to mention the byproducts to spread throughout home. ie steam, oils, smells. If one doesn’ t COOK much or eats in front of TV or Monitor I guess the “pretty” open kitchen is lovely. Also the children’s homework is a source of cross contamination at it’s finest if is on same surface as foods. Not to ignore the mess from cooking is never a good view for eating or entertaining. So I hope open concept will become a member of the Smithsonian very soon. At least close your kitchen!

  2. I hate open concept. My kitchen opens to my dining room which flows into the living room. However I can see the TV from my kitchen. When I cook I just go back and forth between the living and the kitchen. If my guests want to they can come set at my breakfast bar. It has been working fine for almost 20 years.

  3. Our house is more open that it was designed to be, as the builder left out a wall that would have made it into two big spaces (before we bought it.) Now is it pretty much one space, especially when you are coming down the stairs and can see almost every main ‘room.’ Differing ceiling heights help delineate different spaces in our house, and the T.V. is in the farthest “room” from the kitchen, but you do have to go to a bedroom for real quiet with others in the house.
    Also, I have tried to paint the space as though it is two, in two main colours, but am having trouble figuring out where one should start and another should end and what is the balance between the two. I think I am going to go with one neutral everywhere, as we open-concept habitants are advised to do. Also, it needs to be a neutral with enough presence to hold everything together. In my old house, Ivory White could do it, but I don’t think it is strong enough in this big space. Doing yoga on the floor and seeing the walls/ceilings upside down makes this clear.
    However, I do like it, especially the high ceilings, because it is less than 2000 square feet but feels much bigger.

  4. There are two trends that really really need to die. (1) Open concept and (2) enormous kitchens with teeny tiny living areas. I don’t mind open concept in homes that either were designed to have an open concept or in homes where the only way to get comfortable furniture arrangement is to open a wall such as is the case with a traditional rowhouse or shotgun house. But HGTV is FULL of shows where the designers walk into EVERY house & automatically just start ripping out walls. Even historic homes – which KILLS me because those homes have the most remarkable woodwork & built-ins that are stripped away. I also hate it when they expand the kitchen to the point that you have three quarters (or more) of the downstairs all kitchen. Unless you run a restaurant out of your home, you don’t need that much kitchen. Then the camera pans & you see a living area that is crammed to fit a sofa & a chair. Now I love a big kitchen as much as the next gal, but do I need a 30-foot island? I “visit” my kitchen 3 or 4 times a day but I actually live in my living room. Why buy a house full of character if you’re just going to strip it all away? I foresee people spending a lot of cash in the future putting walls back in their houses & getting rid of that 30ft. island.