Why Open Concept Kitchens May Be Exactly What You Need

Why Open Concept Kitchens May Be Exactly What You Need (Or Maybe Not)

An open concept kitchen is considered by many to be the Great Room, but for others, well, their motto might be: what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen. Long touted by home improvement shows, magazines and realtors as a must have feature, for some families it runs counter to their needs and lifestyle. What really matters is weighing the pros and cons as they apply to your taste and preferences.

The Open Concept Allure

It seems like everywhere you turn homeowners are busting through walls to open up the kitchen to the family and the dining rooms, all in pursuit of some idealized vision of family life and grand entertaining. In fact, entertaining and keeping an eye on the kids are the top two reasons given for choosing the open concept kitchen design. The concept has been around since the 1990s and its popularity remains strong. Advocates of the approach of integrating kitchens with other living spaces point out that it keeps families in touch, invites guests into the heart of the home, adds a sense of space to modestly sized homes, and eliminates walls that reduce natural light.

open concept kitchen
A 1990’s open concept kitchen separated from the rest of the house

A contemporary, award-winning open concept kitchen


Non-believers see it differently. Who wants everyone in the kitchen while they’re trying to cook, they query. And how on earth do I whip up a soufflé, babysit and keep my guests entertained all at the same time? Much like perfect sun-dappled lives of Facebook friends, the reality of an open kitchen is usually something altogether different. Where are the dirty pots and pans, you might ask. And the 3-second rule? Forget about it, someone just tweeted the dropped roast.

The Charm of Closed Kitchens

You may be as tidy as the next person, but when it comes to meal prep, all bets are off. Dirty dishes in the sink and food scraps on the counters aren’t too many people’s idea of inviting home décor. The truth is, having a kitchen that is quite separate from the dining and living areas brings along plenty of benefits.

A closed kitchen does not have to mean a claustrophobic one. Besides the obvious advantages of a door that blocks off kitchen messes and cooking odors, the additional wall space means more cabinet storage and room for appliances. Some cooks actually prefer privacy and silence as they prepare that special meal for their guests and, sometimes, too many cooks really do spoil the soup. Moreover, many home chefs derive a great joy from surprising their guests with their latest culinary masterpieces.

As to the argument that open concept kitchens are more homey and inviting, these photos and homeowner comments give testament to the idea that closed kitchens have a warmth and charm all their own.

How to Choose the Best Layout


If, after weighing the pros and cons of each design, your heart’s set on an open concept kitchen, there are some important things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Keep views unobstructed. Successful open floor plans are all about spaciousness, so to promote harmony and balance, try to keep the upper cabinets simple and unobtrusive.
  • Divide the space wisely. Whether you choose an island, breakfast bar or dining table, make sure the sense of flow is harmonious and well-designed.
  • Avoid a cluttered look by keeping open shelving to a minimum. A place to display a pottery collection or library of cookbooks can add interest and warmth, but less is more definitely applies here.
  • Color coordination is key and promotes unity and flow. Light colors look fresh and give the illusion of spaciousness, so keep this in mind if you’re working with a smaller space.

At the end of the day, an open concept kitchen can be a fabulous look, but maintaining separate spaces has many benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Just be sure to consider your lifestyle and the home’s architectural integrity before busting out the sledgehammer to knock down those walls.

If you’re contemplating a change to your home’s kitchen floor plan, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free in-home design consultation.