Is The Open Concept Kitchen Over?

Experts weigh in on how the industry will evolve in a post-pandemic world

Experts weigh in on how the industry will evolve in a post-pandemic open concept kitchen design world

What might the future of residential kitchen design look like post COVID-19 pandemic?

Guest Feature by Caleb Tobin, AIA 

 

Is COVID-19 another nail in the coffin for the open concept kitchen? I can’t be completely certain one way or the other, but the pandemic,  and the resulting abundance of “at home” time has me thinking a lot about it. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years now and I should start by saying that I’m not wholeheartedly opposed to an open concept floor plan.

 

The idea has been around for 30+ years

An open concept floor plan has been the norm for roughly 30 years now in some form or another. You can’t hide from the idea. Whenever you turn on HGTV you know anyone buying a home or renovating a home, the first words out of their mouth are usually “open concept.” 

An open concept might work great for some people, like the couple that loves to entertain on a weekly basis or a young family that needs to keep an eye on the children at all times. Personally, I can see the benefits to an open floor plan but don’t necessarily appreciate them the way that others do; and I should add that I do have young children that need watching, and I do like to entertain on occasion. I understand there are many reasons a person might gravitate towards an open concept kitchen, many of which are legitimate, but if the only reasons you’re going in that direction are because it’s the trend, or because it seems like it might make a bigger impression on your guests, at least stop and consider the long term effects.  Especially if you’re renovating an existing home, making the decision to move forward with an open concept puts you on the path to an expensive construction project that essentially opens up all of your main living spaces to shared sounds, smells, visual distractions, and experiences for those inhabiting the space.  The privacy and uniqueness of each space disappears.

A show stopper kitchen is no doubt something to be proud of, but before you pull the trigger on opening up the entire main floor of your home, I always suggest thinking about how your family lives, how it may be living in the space five years from now, and whether spending the money for an open concept is worth it to you.  If it is worth it, then go for it.  But, at least in my opinion, for most families and budgets, it’s probably not worth it to combine the majority of your primary living functions into one space.

Is The Open Concept Kitchen Dead post Covid19 pandemic Kitchen picture 2

Working From Home During COVID-19 might be our new normal

More than ever today, considering the pandemic that we’re in right now, I really value my privacy. These days I’m working from home with my two kids. With this new normal, you start to understand the value that separation of space has in a home. One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is retreat to the kitchen and cook dinner and listen to music. Either by myself, or it can be my wife and I, or sometimes my kids like to come in and help. I have no desire to have one kid watching TV that I can see and hear while I’m cooking, and the other kid working on a project at the kitchen table that I can also hear. Not my preference. 

 

Don’t think resale value, think comfort

Whenever we talk to realtors, they have a way of thinking about resale and what the market wants. I’m always thinking about what I like. If I’m going to be in a home for at least a few years or more, I’m always going to buy or renovate for what’s comfortable versus what’s going to be best for resale. 

 

What is my ideal Kitchen

I like to think of different variations of the open concept. Like for me, a very small family room next to the kitchen is an interesting concept. So, if someone wants to sit there and read while I’m cooking, and we can discuss our days, that would be great. I can also appreciate the connection of a kitchen and dining area; these are two areas that naturally work together.  The kitchen doesn’t necessarily need to be blocked off from the rest of the house, but I think a more limited connection of spaces works better than combining functions that don’t naturally work together. I also really love kitchens that look out to the backyard or open to an outdoor cooking area or garden.  There are endless options out there – do what’s best for you, and if you ever make it onto HGTV, blow everybody’s mind with your newfound “open-concept-does-not-fit-all” attitude! 

 

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