The first question you probably want to ask is what’s driving behind the changes? Some of the reasons are obvious. We’re more aware of the cost and liability of McMansions, which aren’t as affordable or desirable as they were before the housing bubble burst. Americans are growing older and we’re staying in our homes longer than we used to, so how we spend our time at home is changing.
Home Floor Plans – Smaller Houses & Bigger Rooms
If you’re watching HGTV, you might think a house isn’t worth buying unless it has an open concept kitchen? It’s true that most people enjoy the visual appeal of home floor plans that combine two or more rooms, into one larger room. In addition to more visual appeal, open concept floor plans provide you with more living space.
That’s because hallways take up a lot of valuable living space. When you have fewer hallways, you can actually make the overall house smaller while increasing your living space. This isn’t obvious, as we generally measure the size of a house based on square feet, so let me share you I uncovered this fact.
In California we had an open concept house with 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths and 2,250 square feet. As you’d expect, the kitchen and family room were open. The bonus was a combination living – dining room, with very little space devoted to hallways (short front hallway opening into the living room, and minimal hallway space leading to the bedrooms).
Now travel across the country with me to New Hampshire, with more traditional home floor plans. While looking for our new home, I found a nice 3 bedroom home with 2.5 baths and 2,400 square feet. I kept walking through the house looking for the fourth bedroom because the house was bigger than my California home, but it wasn’t? With 150 additional square feet, the house functionally was smaller, and the rooms were smaller and right then I knew I’d never own another house that had a home floor plan with mostly open space, and very few hallways.
Kitchens Central in Today’s Home Floor Plans
Once upon a time kitchens were strictly used for cooking, baking and storage all things related to eating … and we ate in the dining room. As houses got bigger, kitchens also grew larger with space for informal, day-to-day meals and today, you might say we’ve super-sized our kitchens.
We know that kitchens and bathrooms (see bathrooms trends) are key when buying a house, so it’s no surprise that home floor plans with open concept kitchens are the most desirable feature sought by home buyers. So let’s dig into what features you get with an open concept kitchen.
- Food preparation areas where you can enjoy family and company at the same time.
- Seating, often at a kitchen island, for informal family meals or a cup of tea with your best friend.
- Home floor plans configured with space for entertaining small gatherings in the kitchen as everyone goes where the food is!
- Place for homework and crafts, including storing supplies, so you can multitask – preparing meals, paying bills, supervising homework.
- Space for handling the mail, paying bills and filing, so you can process and put away paperwork versus piles of paper everywhere.
- Family command center (not the refrigerator) where you can keep a family calendar and leave messages for family members, the baby sitter and yes, that punchlist of chores that need doing around the house.
- More storage, and more than your typical pantry which isn’t big enough to support buying food and other household items in larger boxes and larger quantities with so many homeowners utilizing coupons to save money.
- Home floor plans can also include space dedicated to special activities like baking or gardening.