If you are a faithful fan of HGTV you know all about home buyers’ favorite feature, the Open Floor Plan. Whether it’s Love It or List It, Fixer-Upper, or those adorable Property Brothers, home buyers and remodelers want a house with an Open Floor Plan. I have always thought that made sense. In houses where we lived that had living rooms, they were as unused as a Victorian parlor; everyone congregated in the kitchen, which was either adjacent to or at one end of the “Family Room.” Our current house has most of its floor space taken up by a living room-kitchen-dining area, the “Great Room.” My husband, the chef-in-residence, calls it “a kitchen with couches.” We love it.
Enter those spoilsports at The Atlantic magazine. A recent article by Ian Bogost caught my eye: The Curse of an Open Floor Plan, subtitled “A flowing, connected interior…has become ubiquitous, and beloved. But it promises a liberation from housework that remains a fantasy.”* Who ever promised a liberation from housework? Mr. Bogost’s piece is well-researched and thoughtful and it’s not possible to do his argument justice in 350-word blog. But I’ll just say this: I like having a kitchen, dining room and area with comfy couches all in one space. Sure, the kitchen can look messy during dinner because often there’s not time to clean it up before sitting down to eat. But so what? I would rather be in the same room with my family and guests than be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having a good time in the other room. And unless we hire servants, there will always be work to do.
Whether out of necessity or preference, in most countries around the world I have visited, there is a one big room for cooking, eating and being together and, if the occupants are prosperous enough, smaller rooms for sleeping. My Croatian grandparents immigrated to Santa Clara, California and bought a modest three-bedroom house in the middle of an apricot orchard. They furnished it in a kind of stuffy, old-country style and then added a great big room off the back of the house that included a second complete kitchen area, a long dining room table, several couches and a television. That room, my grandparents, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins in it on Easter, is one of my most vivid childhood memories. It was a Great Room.
Photo courtesy of ialicante-mediterranean via Unsplash