Photo courtesy of Studio McGee
Open concept living, it’s what most young buyers dream of. Magazine spreads make them look great and there are many wonderful aspects to connected living. Connected kitchens, dining and family rooms let parents see their kids while cooking dinner. They also eliminate structural separation.
As great as open concept living can be, there are some important downsides that you should be aware of. This is the real-life information that doesn’t show up in magazines.
You want to host a formal dinner and you really don’t want a view into the kitchen, what do you do? At Thanksgiving your table is festive, it’s not a good time to see the pots and pans the food was cooked in piled up on kitchen counters awaiting cleanup.
Formal entertaining in the living room has long been a great way way to get to know new friends and neighbors. It’s not when you want to see all the “stuff” that comes with daily living such as papers, magazines, and boxes of food that was left out after the kid’s afternoon snack. So what is the solution?
The ability to close off rooms when needed is a vital first step. You want built-in flexibility in the way you use various rooms in your home. This comes in the form of generous openings equipped with hidden pocket doors that can easily be pulled out or it may take the form of today’s rage, sliding barn doors. While barn doors are on the outside of walls and can be retrofitted, pocket doors need to be thought off during construction or during remodeling in order to provide the necessary pocket. Since both styles need to be able to close wide openings they tend to be heavy. In other words, really good mounting hardware is required to pull/glide the doors easily.
Image courtesy of LDa Architecture & Interiors
I am a fan of barn doors and in fact at The Greenwich House I designed and had the trim carpenter build a custom barn door with authentic salvaged old planks in a traditional barn door style. It’s a big hit with everyone who comes through the home. That said, I suggest using them sparingly since distressed barn doors are a big focal point. This is why tried and true pocket doors are the go to solution to create flexibility in open concept modern layouts.
Keep The Noise Down
The other hidden, and rarely discussed must have in open concept floorplans is sound control. If you’ve ever walked into new construction, you’ve heard the echo and extra noise that comes from an unfinished expansive space. You really don’t want to be impacted by your kids’ playing and boisterous nature at the other end of the house. Without doors to close and without the right sound deadening building materials this will likely become a source of stress in a very short time.
Proper sound dampening insulation in the walls, and most importantly, impact sound control in flooring are key. At The Greenwich House I used a zero VOC glue under the wood floor. It has better sound impact control properties than the often touted cork underlayment, one of the many invisible building materials that add up to quality construction.
None of these installations show up in the photos found in various popular home design magazines. But trust me they will affect your quality of life.