We’ve always figured ourselves for “open floor plan people”. I mean, open floor plans are great for many reasons…. They’re open, airy, and offer increased visibility which is fantastic, especially if you have young children. Not to mention, they’re great for interacting with guests at parties. Our first two houses had open floor plans and we loved them. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever NOT lived in an open floorplan. My parents house is open. All of my apartments were open. And Joey reports the same. He’s only ever lived in open floor plans.
So, when we bought our 1975 ranch-style house with a closed floor plan (which I’m defining as having a separate kitchen), we automatically figured that we’d be knocking down walls to recreate that openness. And although we still might open the kitchen more up to the dining space eventually, we’re looking at it a bit differently now. Because, the truth is, we’ve noticed some unexpected benefits to having a closed floor plan since living here.
When we moved in, I’d assumed that I’d have to “get used” to the closed floor plan. “Deal with it” until we had the funds for a full reno. But, I was completely taken aback when we moved in, and I actually kinda liked it. No, no… Not kinda. I DID like it. Granted, we’ve only lived here for a short time, but still… like is like. And I figure, if I’m liking a layout with an independent kitchen this quickly, that’s a REALLY good sign. Why do I feel this way, you ask??? Well….
1. Family dinners are family dinners. This was one of the first things I noticed. Meals automatically became about us and our food. Not the TV. Gone are the days of redirecting Lucas’s attention from the TV to his plate. Gone are the days of Joey getting irritated with annoying commercials and leaving his seat to mute the set. Gone are the days of meals with little conversation due to other distractions. We can’t see or hear the TV from the kitchen, so it’s pretty much out of sight, out of mind. Our new closed floorplan has opened our meals up to conversation, which is pretty much awesomesauce.
2. Speaking of TV, there’s been much less of it in general. With our open floorplan, the TV was always on. I mean, we could always see/hear it, so it was just second nature to wake up, turn on the set and then leave it on the majority of the day until bedtime. Even if we didn’t sit and watch it, it was always on. We started realizing that this maybe wasn’t such a good thing when instead of singing nursery rhymes, Lucas began singing State Farm commercials. Seriously. We would laugh and then wonder if it was funny or sad. But, we just.couldn’t.stop. The draw of the TV was just too much. We couldn’t not have it on and once it was on, it was hard to turn off.
Now, in our new house, there are days when we don’t turn on the TV at all for most of the day. If we’re doing stuff in the kitchen, bedrooms, whatever, the TV just stays off because there’s no point in having it on. We can’t see or hear it anyways. And, we’ve found that Lucas would rather hang out with us, rather than sit in front of the TV without us, so he’s exposed less TV as well. It’s very different, but good. And nothing that we intentionally strived for. Just a beneficial side-effect of our home’s layout.
3. In place of TV, is music. Before, unless I was in the car or on a jog, I rarely just turned on the tunes. Namely, because the TV was always on. Now, when I’m cooking or doing something in one of the bedrooms, I find myself busting out the Pandora. I’d forgotten how great it can be to just turn on some music. Lucas likes it, too. We’ve found spontaneous dance parties to be much more common around these parts. Much moreso than in our previous homes.
4. Closed floorplans are ALSO great for having guests over. Just in different ways. We haven’t had a ton of people over yet, but in the few instances that we have, I’ve noticed several things. With our open floor plans, I could see and talk to my guests at all times, but I’m so bad at multitasking that this would often result in burnt food, or me forgetting something major… Like putting all the food out, etc. Now, I can pre-plan and get most stuff done before guests arrive, then finish the last few things in the kitchen with focus, and have the rest of the night to chill with friends and family. Thus, our guests actually GET all the food I’ve prepared. And the food is relatively intact (relatively). Also, the closed floor plan allows me to keep my mess contained to the kitchen, leaving a nice, neat dining and living space to entertain guests in. With our previous open floor plans, my cooking mess was out for all to see. It always made me feel scattered to have my countertops cluttered with stuff in front of guests.
5. I get my steps in. With an open floor plan, you can see everything, making things easier to find. With a closed floorplan, you must walk to find things. Some may see this as a downside, but as a lazy exerciser, I like it. Fitness is about overall movement and walking more contributes to that. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. ;)
6. I’m reminded of how much I enjoy cooking. Sans distractions, I can actually focus on this task alone. And I really love it. I’ve found myself rediscovering creativity in the kitchen, which has been missing for quite some time. I’m not sure if it’s the enclosed kitchen or the fact that I feel so at home in this house, but I’ve really noticed a difference in myself in this way since moving in.
Aside from that, I’m really finding our little, somewhat outdated kitchen to be quite charming. Even the nose-cabinets are growing on me…
(Flashback to moving day… I’ll have updated pics for you soon. :) )
And I’m feeling more and more tempted to leave the cabinetry and layout original to maintain that charm (although, who knows… minds are changing daily around these parts). It’s just so relaxing to sit in our kitchen in the mornings, sipping my coffee, as I gaze at our yard through the french doors. Quietness. No distractions. I think it’s fair to say that I love our new home and feel so very fortunate to be here. Especially since something (ie: closed floor plan) that we originally saw as a downside is proving to be much more enjoyable than we’d originally thought. So, I guess the moral here is that you just don’t know until you give it a chance. And I’m really glad that we did.