One of the key defining characteristics of many new homes and renovations of the last decade or so would have to be the open plan design. Removing the walls between the kitchen, dining room, and living room to create the illusion of more space has been the trend for several years. Entertaining and living in such an open way has never felt so integrated and fluid.
However, there are some subtle signs that the Open Plan may not be ideal for much longer. After all, there are some flaws in its design. For example, trying to cool or heat a spacious air-conditioned living room can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise. Watching sports on television, with appliances like the dishwasher humming in the background, can be tedious. And people with children will relate – there is no place to escape noise, clutter, and toys!
We are gradually moving away from closed rooms, with many old-style houses consisting of many smaller rooms that can be sealed off with internal doors. With heating and air conditioning options less accessible for many families, this style was a great way to keep warm; to separate formal living rooms from adults for entertaining and to create separate areas within the home. The last fifteen years or so have seen a great change in those styles, and it has tried to tear down walls to create a great expanse of open living.
Along with the increased use of technology, there is a noticeable shift from open-plan living towards creating smaller nooks throughout the home for peace and privacy. Mary Duggan, UK-based architect and judge for the RIBA House of the Year award, recently spoke on the subject:
“The world of the open plan family room has changed significantly.
“They ask us more for accommodations, rooms with a TV or a space where people can go and watch something independently, rather than an open-plan space.
That was the trend, but I think it’s waning. The idea of having a ‘much more broken plan’ seems to be the way our buildings are developing now. ”
– Mary Duggan http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2015/nov/11/broken-plan-living-opening-up-new-spaces-in-home
Looking ahead, when planning a renovation or new construction, consider how the use of technology has dramatically advanced and will likely continue to be a staple in people’s homes. Therefore, the home design should reflect this and include smaller corners, studios or ‘snugs’ designed to use devices such as iPads and tablets. The ‘Broken Plan’ house is the new black!
For further consideration, building inclusions could include accessories within these areas, such as built-in charging stations, benches, and built-in desks to accommodate such devices. Also, keep in mind that many devices will now want to sync with the nearby TV or speaker, and that many high-tech devices will now have features that will allow the occupant to lower the blinds remotely, dim the lights, etc. It is simply the way of the future, and it makes sense that our home design reflects such advancements.