Open Concept Design – 5 Ways to Determine If It’s Right For You


SOURCE: Home Bunch

Open concept design has been popular for over a decade and if my clients are any indication, things won’t be changing anytime soon. We all seem to love the wide open spaces that replaced the more traditional layout. 

There are a lot of pros and cons to this style of design and it’s important to understand whether it’s right for you. Whether you’re buying, renovating or building it’s a crucial decision about how you live and what your preferences are. I’ve outlined the most common pros and cons for each perspective.



Since I’m an optimistic person I’m going to start with the amazing pros that exist with an open concept design. There are a lot of reasons to fall in love with this style of design but is it right for you?


PRO – Arranging Furniture is Easier

SOURCE: Little Dekonings

Without walls there are no restrictions as to how much of the space you use for each area like living, dining, etc. There aren’t the same parameters as when a wall is physically blocking us from the adjoining spaces.

If you have a large sectional that would present a challenge fitting into a standard space, open concept will save you. It allows you to steal a bit of space from the next “room” since there are no walls to prevent that. And in fact, since there are no walls you get to decide exactly how to use all the square footage without a roadmap dictating what should go where. Maybe you don’t entertain formally so there’s no need for a dining room. Open concept spaces adapt to whatever your lifestyle is. 


PRO – It Can Make Your Home Appear Larger

SOURCE: Pinterest

Since you’re able to see the entirety of your main floor it can appear overall much larger than it is. The same square footage in a typically designed home versus open concept will be viewed much differently. 

If you’re familiar with the traditional centre hall plan you know that there will be rooms on each side of the hall, defined by walls, windows, etc. Take that exact same footprint and remove the walls. Now you have a space that can appear significantly larger since you can see from the front door all the way through to the back of the house. The square footage hasn’t changed but our perception of it has.



PRO – Works Well for Entertaining

SOURCE: The Design Files

If you have ever lived in a more traditional home you’ll know it can be challenging to entertain when rooms are all broken up. With open concept design your guests can flow from room to room without having made the conscious decision to do so.

This is particularly true for large events when there is more than one activity happening. For instance, if you’re watching a sporting event or gathering for an Oscars viewing you can incorporate the tv into the rest of the spaces. Your guests can be mingling, eating and drinking all while keeping an eye on the tv.



PRO – Can Incorporate Light Into Darker Areas

SOURCE: Lindsey Dalton

It’s not always possible to have natural light pouring into every room in your home. At various points in the day you’ll have natural light and sunshine bouncing around each space. If you’re lucky the light shines where you want it when you’re home to enjoy it.

With open concept design you have the possibility of light spreading into some of the darker areas naturally. Although you may only receive peripheral effects of it and not a saturated light, it will allow the majority of your spaces to receive light. This of course is dependent on how many windows you have and the placement of them but your odds of having a balanced light is much higher with open concept.



You may be getting excited thinking about all the pros of open concept and I’m not here to rain on your parade. There are however, a few cons that you definitely need to consider because they’re significant.



CON – It Can Be Noisy

SOURCE: Behance

I don’t hear much discussion about this but this is most definitely going to be a factor when you have a young family. It will be hard to get a break from noisy kids or their toys in an open concept space. 

If anyone in your family plays an instrument or video games those sounds will infiltrate all of the other common areas. If you are someone who loves peace and tranquillity, this might not be the ideal layout for you.

Another overlooked factor is that noise will bounce around and you’ll need to buffer that with fabrics, rugs, etc. You’ll want to include rugs, window coverings and upholstery in each area to dampen the sound. If you have ever been in an open concept home that doesn’t have enough dampening you’ll know how the noise bounces around all the hard materials. Although this can be an added expense it really is necessary in an open concept space.


CON – Messy Areas Are Always On Display

SOURCE: Chris Loves Julia

Families with small kids, beware! Unless your kids put away toys immediately after playing (ha!) you’ll always be looking at messy spaces.  It will require some thoughtful planning as well as storage solutions so that you can clean up quickly without having to haul toys and books off to different areas of the home.

This will also be particularly difficult to avoid when it comes to entertaining. If you’ve spent hours in the kitchen preparing food there’s bound to be a lot of mess. And most of us aren’t organized enough to have prepped dinner with enough time to wash and put away all the mess. With an open concept design there’s nowhere to hide the mess. If you’re not comfortable with that, it may be difficult to live with.



CON – Open Concept Spaces Require Consistency in Design

SOURCE: Jean Stoffer Design

As a designer I always speak to my clients about the importance of creating consistency between spaces. This couldn’t be more important than in open concept designs. Furniture needs to be cohesive between spaces since they’re sitting side by side. 

If you’re joining homes and you and your partner have a disparate sense of design it will become glaringly obvious. While 2 different styles of furniture could work in a traditional layout, it will not work well in an open concept space. 

If you’ve ever struggled to be true to just one style it’ll be challenging to make those various design styles work together.



CON- Open Concept Is Harder to Decorate

SOURCE: Elle Decor

If you love art or styling is your love language, this will be a challenge in an open concept home. There are very few walls for artwork or all your beloved decor items. A lot of the styling opportunities come via the larger furniture. Toss cushions and throws along with candles on tables are some of the ways you can add your personal touch but it won’t be as plentiful as in a traditional layout.

So there you have it friends. The pros and cons are very compelling but I think depending on your particular lifestyle it can be either a great idea or a cautionary tale. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

If you need help designing your home or your away-from-home-home, contact me to discuss how I can help.


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