Recently a few of my friends remodeled their kitchens. In addition to replacing the cabinets and countertops they changed something else. They went from a self-enclosed space to an open floor plan where the kitchen blends seamlessly with the living and family room areas. The result is a more spacious look that makes the kitchen feel bigger, and my friends are thrilled to have the feeling of more room. But before I’d recommend an open kitchen floor plan to someone, I’d have them consider a few pros and cons of the design, such as the following:
* If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning up afterward, you can begin to feel a little trapped, especially if you can hear the sounds of laughter coming from another room. An open kitchen helps solve the problem of feeling cut off, since you can see and hear what’s going on in the next room and join the conversation.
* Conversely, if small kids are playing in the family room and they’re being awfully quiet, that usually means that something is up. An open kitchen will help you keep tabs on the kids before the five-year-old boy gives his little brother a haircut, or before the girls show off their artistic talents by painting the walls with peanut butter.
* But if you can see out of your kitchen that means that others can see inside it — the cabinets, and the appliances, and the dirty dishes that are sitting on the counter and piled up in the sink. So if you’re not the type whose kitchen is always ready for company, think about this: Do you really want to see those dirty dishes when you’re trying to relax in front of the TV?
* Something else to consider is that odors do travel. If your kitchen is usually filled with the tantalizing aroma of soup simmering on the stove and cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, you might enjoy having those aromas traveling throughout your home. But if you don’t fancy the idea of stale frying oil adding its fragrance to your family room’s sofa cushions and curtains, you might decide that an open kitchen isn’t the right floor plan design for you.
So it pays to consider both the pros and cons of an open kitchen floor plan, before you break through that kitchen wall. And remember, a compromise design is a possibility. You can cut a window in the connecting wall, which can be opened or closed with shutters or a venetian blind. That way you can have your cake and eat it, too — and no one has to see the dirty cake platter that is sitting in the sink.
Lara Fine is a home design aficionado. Her areas of expertise include finding creative home decor solutions for small spaces and recreating period looks on a budget.