A Case for the Closed Floor Plan | Articulate

A Case for the Closed Floor Plan

If you’ve watched even ten minutes of any home improvement TV show, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “open concept.” Whether it’s a young and hip house-hunting couple, or a bachelor looking to renovate, chances are they’re all looking for the same thing: an open-concept living area. 

Here at Article, we don’t think any one layout is better than the other. That said, we’re feeling a bit sorry for the ol’ closed-concept floor plan these days. People knock out walls with such gusto and enthusiasm that you start to wonder, what did they ever do to you? To find out more about the benefits (yes, benefits!) of a closed floor plan, and the best ways to furnish one, we spoke to New York-based interior designer, and Article Trade Program member, Lindsay Biondo of Get Decorated

Emily Henderson's teal dining room features Article's Canyon Tan Leather Dining Chair.
A separated dining room, like Emily Henderson’s design here, lets you relax on your Kissa Dining Chairs without having to look at the pile of dishes in the sink.

Hi Lindsay! Thanks for chatting with us. Let’s dive right in. Closed and divided floor plans get a bad rap. In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception people have when it comes to a closed floor plan? 

Due to the lack of open space and use of walls, people most often associate closed floor plans with poor lighting, feeling cramped, and feeling trapped. While this can be the case, having a closed floor plan doesn’t mean you don’t have any windows, or that the space is necessarily small. It all depends on the furniture you choose, and how you configure the layout. 

What are the main drawbacks and benefits of open floor plans when compared to closed floor plans? 

Both open floor plans and closed floor plans have their pros and cons. To me, the main drawback to a closed floor plan is that you have to navigate a more thoughtful lighting plan which can lead to higher renovation costs and more work.  However, the main benefit of having a closed floor plan is the ability to create privacy amongst rooms, which tends to create a cozier and more sustainable overall feel throughout the home. You will also have more walls, which means more space to hang artwork — something I see as a plus!

Similarly, a main drawback of open floor plans is that privacy and separation or delineation of space and purpose are challenged. It can be tough knowing where to start when it comes to creating separate and functional spaces when you’re faced with one big open area. That said, the main benefit of open space floor plans is the ability to create space where you have the versatility to get creative with your design. 

A sunroom features Article's Sol Daybed.
A secluded sunroom featuring the Sol Daybed gives Jill of Modern On Madison the perfect hideaway.

It’s hard to watch any home improvement show these days without hearing someone reference an open floor plan. Why do you think open floor plans have become such a desired feature in homes? 

Open floor plans have become synonymous with contemporary design.  Contemporary design (not to be confused with modern design) is the reflection of current trends and therefore is the go-to approach meant to encourage a higher resale value. People love to gravitate to what’s “popular” at the moment, but popularity doesn’t always mean it’s the best option! 

What are some common complaints you hear about open floor plans?

One of the most common complaints I’ve heard is the lack of privacy. Less division between spaces means you’ll always know what everyone else in the space is up to. This is fine when you’re a family or couple but becomes less fun when you’re dealing with roommates or houseguests.  

In addition to the sharing of space, smells, sounds, and messes tend to be shared freely in an open-concept design. If you’re trying to watch TV or work in one area of the living space and someone else in your household is loudly emptying the dishwasher or on a phone call, that sound is going to travel. When someone makes popcorn in the microwave, your entire space might smell like a movie theatre. Also, If you’re having a dinner party and the kitchen is a mess, all of your guests will have an unobstructed view of that pile of dishes. 

A living room features a Sven Charme Tan Sofa and a black hand chair.
The Sven Charme Tan Sectional provides maximum seating in a closed-concept space, without crowding the room. Thanks to strategic planning from Grace Carpenter Designs, this space feels light and bright.

What kind of furniture works best in an awkward or closed space? 

I absolutely love to use armless lounge chairs (chaise chairs) because they save on space and they’re so comfortable! The Quadra Chair, for example, is one of my favorite pieces because it’s so versatile — it’s perfect for kid-friendly spaces and also elegant, modern spaces. 

I also love using poufs instead of larger furniture. For example, placing a tray on top of a square pouf instantly makes it a great side table or coffee table.  

What is the biggest mistake people make when designing their furniture layout in a closed space? 

Placing furniture up against the wall is definitely a no-no in any space, let alone a closed space. Believe it or not, but creating that negative space and walkways around furniture will help a smaller space feel larger. 

Another mistake I often see in small spaces is overly matching furniture pieces. In order to create interest, mix up styles, add texture, incorporate color, and mix metals. While it might seem counterintuitive, all of that uniqueness helps distract from the closed space. 

Wit and Delight centered the Seno Oak Dining Table and Kissa Dining Chairs to create a separated space that is both beautiful and functional. And those extra walls? Perfect for adding artwork and accent shelves.

Have you ever worked with anyone looking to create a closed-plan space? 

I have definitely had some clients over the years who have asked me to help their open space plan feel cozier and we often end up adding walls to create rooms! 

In New York City we see a lot of loft-style apartments that are large, open spaces and require thoughtful space planning to help encourage a cozier and more private feel. 

An increased sense of togetherness is often cited as a reason homeowners love open floor plans. How can people create this sense of connection in a closed and separate floor plan? 

Closed floor plans are, in my opinion, an even better way to encourage togetherness. You might not be able to include as much seating as you would have in a large family room, but the layout encourages everyone to gather closely together. 

Add a modular sofa, like the Solae, to create a piece that fits your space perfectly, while inviting conversation and connection. Or, instead of a big full-sized sofa or sectional, use two smaller loveseats positioned across from each other to create a compact but functional lounging area. Think outside the box to find creative solutions that work for your space. 

A white living room features the Soma Sofa Bed
The Soma Sofa Bed means Stephanie of A White Palette can use her separate living room as a guest room in a pinch.

How can homeowners create design cohesion between separate rooms in a closed layout, while still allowing each room to have its own distinct function? 

First, always establish your design concept. Once you know the aesthetic purpose for your home, your furnishings and decorative accents such as window treatments, pillows, general paint color, artwork and wall decor, and anything else should share similarities — if not be the same. 

I always like to create a color palette that flows from room to room and includes consistent finishes on furniture — such as walnut legs on the dining chairs and also on the bed frame — to keep cohesion throughout your home. 

Whether you’re Team Open Concept or Team Closed, it’s obvious that there are pros and cons to both layouts. With the right furniture and some strategic layout planning, we’re hoping that this post showed you that there’s beauty in those walls — whether you plan to knock them down eventually or not. 

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