Opening Up Your Floor Plan: How to Convert Separate Rooms for Contemporary Flow

by Alex ThatcherNovember 21, 2018

Updating Your Home’s Flow

For the past couple of decades now, interior designers and home remodeling experts have been pushing the concept of the open floor plan in design and lifestyle magazines, on interior design and remodeling oriented television shows, and on the Internet. In fact, most new home construction since around 1990 has featured open floor plans that eliminate some partitioning walls from rooms that were once kept separate in traditional home architecture.

Simply put, a home that has no partitioning wall between kitchen and dining room, dining room and living room, or among all three is generally considered to have an open floor plan. In older homes, a parlor, living room, den, dining room, kitchen, even a butler’s pantry or a breakfast nook – all the shared spaces in the home – were kept separate by interior walls.

If you’re living in one of those older home (one built in Victorian, Tudor, or even craftsman style), you may find yourself looking at your interior walls with something like blood-lust in your eyes. But before you reach for the sledgehammer or call up your local remodeling contractor, you’ll want to consider what you’ll hope to gain by opening up your home, as well as what you may stand to lose.

open floor plan

The Pros of an Open Floor Plan

According to the pros over at HGTV, open floor plan living “has its major upsides.” For starters, a home with a large and open interior space can feel like it’s much larger than it actually is. Incorporating the meal prep area, the dining area, and the lounging or living area all into one big space can also bring your family together more often, even if they are engaged in separate activities.

On open floor plan can also greatly improve the feel of your home when you’re entertaining. But, perhaps the greatest advantage of an open floor plan is that it eliminates or incorporates underused spaces (parlor, formal dining room) into the spaces that tend to get the most use (kitchen, living room).

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Some Things to Consider Before You Take Sledgehammer in Hand or Hire an Architect or Builder

For every perceived advantage that opening up the flow of your home can bring you, there will inevitably be a trade-off. After all, a larger-feeling space is also a larger space to heat. Further, bringing all the communal spaces in your home can leave you feeling like there’s nowhere you can go and have your space without locking yourself up in your bedroom.

Also, having an open floor plan can leave you feeling like you have to keep every part of your home tidy at all times. Last, don’t forget about the costs associated with conversion that you’ll have to consider.

How to Convert Separate Rooms Into an Open Plan in Your Home

Before you pick up your sledgehammer, you’ll want to bring in a licensed contractor, a construction engineer, or an architect to look at your home and evaluate what you want to do. While it may seem at first that all of your interior walls are superfluous, many of them may contain plumbing, wiring, or even be load-bearing, holding up your second floor or roof – so removing just any wall may not be an option.

If the wall or walls you’re planning to remove are not load bearing, then your costs will be much lower. If they are load bearing, then your interior walls will need to be replaced with beams that disperse the weight they were holding up to the exterior walls or remaining interior walls.

open floor plan

What Open-Floor Plan Living May Cost and What You May Gain

According to the experts at Remodeling Image, the costs of opening up your home could be as low as $8 per square foot, or as much as $15 per square foot for the spaces affected. Further, you could recoup as much as 60% of that cost in equity. Opening up your floor plan can also make your home easier to sell in the contemporary market.

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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.