Designing Your Seattle Dream Home: Why Open Spaces Are a Bad Idea

The open floor house plan has been all the rage on the west coast these past few years. Seattle is no exception.


The open floor house plan has been all the rage on the west coast these past few years. Seattle is no exception. Homes with open floor plans have fewer internal walls and more combined spaces. For example, the kitchen, living room, and dining room might all be separate areas within the same larger room.

Supporters of the open space design trend argue that it makes homes look more spacious. Parents of young children who live in houses with open spaces like being able to watch their children while they cook, watch television, or entertain guests. But like many trends, open floor plans aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re designing your Seattle dream home, here’s why open spaces are a bad idea.

No Noise Control 

In a house with a few small rooms, noise is contained to the immediate space in which it occurs. In a house with an open plan, noise from one area travels everywhere. Imagine trying to watch television while someone else is cooking a few feet away with no wall to absorb the sound or trying to have dinner with adult guests while the kids are playing. Even if you have small children now, they won’t need immediate supervision forever. 

Beyond being a nuisance, open floor plans create a lack of privacy. If you need to take a sensitive phone call or have a private discussion with one member of your multi-person household, open spaces mean that there are few places to do it. You might find yourself hiding in your bedroom like a teenager when you’re actually an adult in your own home.

With many people planning to continue working from home, noise control and privacy are more important issues than ever. Don’t build a dream home that only leads to you and others in your household driving each other crazy

Cluttered Appearance 

While homes with open floor plans may look bigger, they often look messier, too. Even if your living and dining areas are neat, they’ll look sloppy because of the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. The human eye is naturally drawn to clutter. If you have any, anywhere, an open plan will make it appear to be everywhere. 

You’re putting a lot of time and money into building a beautiful home. Don’t design something that will only end up looking bad, no matter how frequently you clean it. 

Uninviting Space 

While homes with open floor plans tend to photograph beautifully, they are actually less psychologically pleasant to inhabit. As humans, we are hardwired to be drawn to spaces that feel safe, which means small and cozy. A home with a few larger rooms can actually feel subconsciously unsettling. 

This sensation can be amplified by poor furniture layout. Open space in a home must accomplish many purposes at once. You’d think this would create greater flexibility in design, but the opposite is true. It can be challenging to arrange furniture in a way that creates the appearance of discreet rooms within four walls. Often, the rooms butt up against each other, or there are awkward-looking empty spaces. For example, you will probably have to put your sofa in the middle of the room, facing the only wall where the television doesn’t look too weird. 

Art is equally difficult to pleasantly display in an open floor plan house. Normal-sized paintings and photographs look small on long, tall walls. If the various pieces aren’t of similar styles, they can look discordant. If you want your home to be inviting and stylistically interesting, an open plan is not the way to go.