Are we seeing an end to open plan living?

Many houses and flats across the UK are designed with an “open plan living” style, in which the goal is to have several large rooms that can serve a number of purposes – such as a combined kitchen, dining and living area. But modern trends are prompting some homeowners to seek properties that have better-defined spaces, or to convert open plans to what’s known as “broken” or “flexible” plan homes that use partitions to create distinct living areas.

If you own a home that is open plan, there are steps you can consider changing the layout so that you create separated spaces for particular uses. But it’s also possible to take a broken plan home and convert it into an open plan property if that’s the style you prefer. The options highlight the changes in the housing market that are likely to stay for a long time to come.

What is open plan living?

The fast cash home buying experts at LDN Properties have seen all types, shapes and sizes of houses and flats over the many years that they’ve been purchasing homes in London. According to them, open plan homes are generally defined as those that have large rooms which can be used for a number of different activities.

For example, an open plan house might have a large kitchen that is connected to a dining room and living area without any major walls separating the three areas. Another example of an open plan property is a home that might have a very big lounge that families use for many reasons, such as dining, watching television, other types of leisure, and more.

There are many property websites that can further explain the key characteristics of an open plan home, including important advice on how to transform a house or flat without such a layout into an effective open plan property. As one popular homebuilding website notes, it’s important to take time to accurately devise an open plan layout because a poorly crafted open plan can cause more problems than benefits, such as leaving wasted space and other negative outcomes.

And if you decide eventually that an open plan property isn’t right for you after weighing the pros and cons, you could instead use partitions for a more closed-off layout at your home.

The benefits and disadvantages of an open plan house or flat

As with all other attributes of a property, there are certain pros and cons of open plan living, although whether you prefer this type of home will largely be a personal preference.

Benefits of an open plan home

Among the advantages of open plan living is the fact that the rooms in your home will appear to be more spacious. That’s because there will be fewer walls and other partitions separating different areas of the property, which can make the overall space feel more confined.

Another pro of having an open plan house is the fact that it can encourage residents, whether they are family or friends, to be more social. That’s because an open plan property by its very design encourages the use of a large common area for many routine activities including mealtimes, playing games, and leisure, which are all typically social events.

Negative aspects of an open plan home

One of the more recent complaints that some homeowners have about open plan living is the lack of privacy. This can be understandable because such properties aim to remove as many barriers as possible between different parts of the home (such as the dining room, kitchen, and lounge) in order to create a more spacious and welcoming atmosphere. But the trade-off can be that there are few areas in the house or flat where someone can get much privacy.

Another potential con of an open living home is that it can be harder to define the spaces and uses of a home. For example, if the dining area is an open space that’s connected without any dividing walls or other partitions to the kitchen and lounge, this can give you house or flat a feeling of a lack of defined spaces that could be a turn-off for some potential buyers. It’s a factor to bear in mind if you have an open plan house and are looking to sell it quickly.

How modern life is changing the demand for open plan living

Although open plan properties have long been in demand, an ever-increasing number of homeowners are looking for flats and houses that instead use a flexible or broken plan design. This is a home that relies on walls and other dividers to create unique rooms throughout a property, such as making the dining area completely separate from the kitchen.

It’s said that one of the reasons that broken plan homes are becoming more popular is modern living and our growing use of, and reliance, on personal devices such as laptops and phones, and a desire for a private space where we can use these without anyone else around as a distraction. By installing walls in a home to create divisions between rooms you are able to construct a tangible area of privacy that you can use for whatever purpose you’d like.

Another reason that broken plan living is enjoying more popularity currently is the rise in demand for home offices. The coronavirus pandemic that started in 2020, which prompted many employees to shift to working from home full-time, added to what was already a desire by many people to own houses or flats that have a dedicated space for them to use as a home office.

Options for converting your open plan home to a broken plan property

If you own an open plan home but are interested in possibly converting it to a broken plan property, the change can be possible but it will likely require a potentially large investment.

The main goal of any project to turn an open plan property into a broken plan layout is to create specific dividing lines between rooms in order to create a sense of structure through defined individual rooms. This naturally will require the use of partitions to break up open spaces, which can range from low-cost furniture through to paying for the installation of new walls. The latter might have a significant price tag depending on the scope of the divisions you want to build.

As with any type of home renovation or other change, before making a final decision on whether to proceed you should carefully calculate the total cost of the work to create a broken plan layout in your house, and whether you can afford the outlay. You should not launch a home renovation project if you’re not sure of your ability to pay for all of the work.

And you should also give some consideration to whether the work that you’re thinking of doing to your property will ultimately increase or decrease your home’s overall value. Not all changes that homeowners make to their properties are beneficial, and certain projects can reduce the value of their home, which in turn lowers the price they can set when selling their house or flat. It might be worth consulting with a property expert or other professional to get their advice on whether they think a change from open plan to broken plan living may lower your home’s value.

Open plan isn’t going to disappear but alternatives are now more common

As detailed above, there are several advantages and disadvantages of both open plan living and broken plan living. The type of property that you prefer is a highly personal choice, and will depend largely on how you intend to use the space in your house or flat.

Although demand for broken plan homes is increasing, open plan living homes are still in demand. That’s why you should focus on a home layout that works best for you, rather than worrying about which style to pick in order to make it more likely that your home will sell. Just as a broken plan home might sell faster to someone looking for that type of property, an open plan home could also quickly receive an offer from a buyer who wants to own that kind of house.

And many homeowners are learning that perhaps the ideal approach is a property that mixes open plans with broken plans, keeping certain areas such as the dining room as large spacious areas whilst establishing partitioned rooms with more privacy such as home offices.

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