For most of the late 19th and 20th centuries, the American ideal of a home was a single-family dwelling. It had separate living and dining rooms, a kitchen, two or three bedrooms and, if you were fortunate, more than one (inside) bathroom. The family room was a welcome addition, allowing the formal living room to be reserved for entertaining. It was a major shift from the days of the single-room home, where the family shared one space for everything from cooking to sleeping. Sometimes they shared the room with their livestock, too. Why did we come full circle to open plan homes (albeit with more space, greater luxury, and fewer cows), and is an open plan home right for you?
Henry Hobson Richardson, Greene and Greene, Frank Lloyd Wright. You may be surprised to learn that the modern concept of an open plan home dates back to the late 1800s, when Richardson introduced spaces that flowed into one another in two homes he designed. (He is perhaps best known as the architect of Trinity Church, Boston.) The Greene brothers embraced the trend in their “ultimate bungalows,” like the Gamble House in Pasadena, CA. Frank Lloyd Wright took it even further by creating Prairie-style homes, primarily in the Midwest, where interiors had few barriers and the outdoor and indoor spaces united. The move to open plan was a reaction to the ornate, closed-room style of many Victorian era homes. However, the people who commissioned these houses were generally wealthy individuals willing to take the risk of a shocking new style.
Eichler Emerges. While famous architects like Richard Neutra and Philip Johnson continued to push the boundaries of the open plan style for individual clients, the person most responsible for bringing it to a wide audience was Joseph Eichler. In 1950s, he built thousands of what became known as Eichler homes. California was the epicenter for Eichler’s affordable open plan revolution, where the homes were as much about the California dream of indoor/outdoor living as about a more modern lifestyle.
It’s A ‘70s Thing. Open plan homes really took off in the 1970s, and they remain popular today. The style, now often called open concept, is the darling of Houzz and HGTV. If you want an open floor plan, be ready to embrace a free flowing lifestyle. Pluses may include making a small space seem bigger, fostering a sense of togetherness with your family, entertaining in an informal style, eliminating seldom-used rooms, making indoor/outdoor life easier, and adding light from more windows. What you lose from keeping rooms separate, you’ll gain in flexibility.
Is A Great Room Really That Great? Open plan is not for everyone. You need to think carefully about the way you really live, versus the perfectly staged photos on the online home design sites. How do you feel about people seeing your kitchen…all the time? Do day-old cooking smells bother you? (Mmmm, eau de salmon!) What will happen when you want to stream a movie, your spouse wants to read, and the kids need to do their homework on the computer in the kitchen workspace you carefully added? Do you value privacy over unrelenting togetherness? You may want more separation of spaces.
If you’ve found an open concept home but you want more walls, or you’re buying a more traditional home that you want to open up, the answer may be a purchase + renovation loan! Talk to a First Choice Loan Services Inc. mortgage loan originator about our range of home loans to create the home of your dreams.