This article comes from The Spruce.
Open floor plans have been the dominant architectural trend in new residential construction since about 1990. And they’ve been the goal in many major remodeling projects in older homes, where the objective is to join kitchen and dining room, dining room and living room, or all three into some form of communal living space or “great room.”
In open floor plan construction, heavy-duty beams (instead of interior load-bearing walls) carry the weight of the floor above. Aesthetically, a sense of openness and greater traffic flow is promoted by an open floor plan.
An open floor plan doesn’t mean all rooms are connected, nor does it mean there are no barriers at all between the rooms. Open floor plans apply only to common areas. Exempt spaces include bathrooms, powder rooms, bedrooms, and home offices. Most often, open floor plans involve some combination of kitchen, dining room, and living room.
An open floor plan is a relatively new concept in residential home design.
Pre-World War 2, most homes used a very basic floor plan in which the main hallway served as a kind of artery that provided access to branch rooms serving specific functions. In these floor plans, the kitchen was usually placed at the back of the house, because it was seen as a service area and not used for socializing at all. A rear door off the kitchen allowed for food deliveries or as an entrance for staff. Entertainment until the 1950s was a fairly formal affair conducted in other areas of the house—served by a kitchen that was strictly off limits to guests.
Even at this time, though the seeds of the future open floor plan were being sown by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, who began to design homes with a large open living space that combined dining areas and living areas, often separated as well as united by a large open fireplace. At this time, the kitchen was still a separate area, since it was still regarded as a utilitarian space.
The true open floor plan began to take hold in the post-war years, where formality gave way to a more casual attitude mandated by the hundreds of thousands of young growing families with children. An open floor plan, now beginning to include the kitchen, offered design flexibility for reconfiguring the space as the family changed and grew, and made it possible to keep an eye on kids during meal preparation and during cleanup.
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