It’s what every show on HGTV had brainwashed you into believing you wanted: An open floor plan. The appeal was clear. Homes with open floor plans feel bigger, brighter and more airy. Plus, if you’re a parent of little kids, that open concept meant you could keep an eye on the kiddos while making dinner. Every parent’s dream!
It probably wasn’t until after you moved in that you developed a newfound appreciation for walls. As much as you love your family, you don’t necessarily want to see them all the time. And wow! Things really do seem louder now, don’t they? Maybe your kids have gotten a little older and seeing them wrestle and hearing them argue is not exactly the sort of dinner-prep ambiance you once envisioned.
And sure, it’s great for entertaining, but then again, you’re not doing nearly as much of that as you intended, are you?
If you’ve got open-concept remorse, you’re not alone. As the Boston Globe reports, homeowners are starting to put their walls back up:
“Buyers are moving away from uninterrupted views,” said Loren Larsen, a real estate agent with Compass, in Boston, who is hearing from clients who don’t want their kitchens — and the dirty dishes — on display.
“The pendulum is swinging back,” said Bob Ernst, president of FBN Construction in Hyde Park. “The reality is that life can be loud.”
If you don’t have a wall-building budget, though, and moving to a “closed concept” isn’t in your foreseeable future, what’s a remorseful homeowner to do?
Start by softening the noise
Part of what makes today’s open concept home so loud (beyond the lack of walls) is our modern shunning of all things plush. We’ve swapped the carpet for hardwood floors and ditched drapey curtains in favour of cleaner lines. Unfortunately, we also gave up the perfect materials for absorbing sound.
Particularly if you have non-carpeted floors, look for ways to soften things up with large fluffy rugs, floor-length curtains and all the throw pillows and fabrics you can muster. It’s not a cure, but it will stop some of the noise from bouncing all over the place.
Create physical boundaries
Sure, you can get actual room dividers or screens to section off a dining room or living room. But for a less obvious approach, try incorporating large shelving, buffet tables or storage pieces to define a space, make it feel more cosy and block some of the view from the other “rooms.”
Hanging pendant lamps, particularly in the kitchen, can also create the feeling of separation and obstruct the view a bit.
Even adding a comfortable chair or small couch to your bedroom can give you another option when you want to read a book or make a phone call. The trick is to find other areas in the home to retreat to (or send the kids to) when you need a little alone time.