Monday, January 21, 2013

Against the Open Concept Floorplan

Now that I have a house, I watch a lot of home improvement shows; and open concept floorplans are all the rage. I understand the appeal. The lack of walls make a space look larger and airier. If you have children, you can see what they are up to. It's very modern. But there is a problem. They keep putting the kitchen smack in the middle of things.

Not my kitchen, but you get the idea
I realize that the kitchen is the new showplace. If people are going to spend money, they spend it on upgrading the kitchen. I like to cook, so a comfortable kitchen is high on my list of priorities. However, I'd still like the kitchen to be at least partly closed off.

Reason One: Onions, and other aromas
I have lived in my lovely, open concept house for 8 months now. The kitchen is very much in the center of the action. And even with the down draft on full blast, scented candles and Febreze, I still wake up to the aroma of last night's onions. Not lovely.

Reason Two: Secrecy
There are things the guests don't need to see you doing. Like scooping out the centers of not-quite-set cupcakes, putting out the grease fire, or scraping the burned part off the toast. What happens in the kitchen is the business of the cook.

Reason Three: Guilt
I cannot relax when I can see the dirty dishes staring at me from the counter. If I'm on my own, doing dishes takes 2 minutes, but a dinner party makes for a lot of dishes. And I am constituionally unable to "leave the dishes 'till later" if I can see them from the living room. A door I could close would make a world of difference.

I know I've already lost this battle, but if there are any architects out there, or a genius who can invent an invisible aroma shield for kitchens, it's something to think about.


  1. The house where I spent most of my growing-up years had it both ways, which was nice. The kitchen was separated from the formal dining room and living room by a swinging door. However, it was open on the other side to the little kitchen eating area (for immediate family only) and the informal den.

    Of course, that was when formal living rooms and dining rooms were still part of floorplans, even in smaller homes. (The rooms were just smaller.) In my house, and many others I see today, there's only one dining area and only one sitting area.


  2. The houses I grew up in had similar layouts. I don't mind the traffic, as much as the cooking aromas. Do you remember the leek tart I posted a couple of weeks ago? It was three days before that aroma went away.

  3. We have an open kitchen/living room - it's really all one big room. When we cook cauliflower, the entire house stinks. Ew. I love it, but the stink is strong.