Reno of the Month: Open Concept Living — Is It Right For Your Home?

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Unless you live in a new or recently built house, chances are your home was designed with distinctly defined rooms like the kitchen, dining and family room that are closed off from one another.

In some cases, this can be a blessing. If you are using the formal dining room as an office or playroom, it’s a simple step to close the door on the mess (or the noise) when you have visitors!

However, top of the wish list for most of the homeowners we work with is to make their main level feel “more open.”

Most homeowners are ‘over’ walls that block views between rooms or to the outside of the home, the labyrinth of doors that mean one has to be shut before another can be opened, or the dark, closed-in feeling of the kitchen.

Whatever the scenario, creating a more open feel for a space usually starts with removing doors and taking down walls. Although the overall square footage of a space doesn’t necessarily increase, the visual it provides makes it feel like a much bigger space. It’s also a much better way to use space.

With most homeowners rarely using a formal dining room even when they have one, and preferring to be able to see into the eating area or family room when they are in the kitchen, an open floor plan provides better flow between spaces and allows for flexibility in how it’s used. An open concept also allows for more natural light to flow throughout the entire area.

But wait! Before you get too carried away, a few things to consider:

  • A more open concept may not be for everyone. Noise travels, heating and cooling costs may change, flooring may need to be replaced throughout, wall space for artwork is reduced and having a line of sight throughout a space means any messes will instantly be on display. Take time to think about how you use your space before determining if an open floor plan is right for you.
  • Removing load bearing walls can be complicated and costly. Always check with a professional remodeler or structural engineer first to find out if the wall or column you want to remove is load bearing or houses electrical, mechanical or plumbing lines.
  • You don’t have to remove an entire wall to make a space feel more open. Removing a door and taking down part of a wall to create a larger framed entrance between 2 rooms can also make a space feel completely different.
  • Similarly, if square footage is at a premium and you want to retain storage or countertop space, removing the upper half of a wall but retaining the lower half and adding an island countertop (with or without cabinets below) is also a great use of space.

This month, our project highlight features a Lake Townhome in South Reston. It’s hard to beat lake living in Reston!

This townhome has a gorgeous view and a great location, but our clients were ready to update the entire first floor of their home including the kitchen, family room and powder room.

We opened up the space between the kitchen and dining room to maximize the beautiful water view but retained usable storage space by adding under-counter cabinets. The kitchen is now lighter and brighter with an all-season view of the lake.

Our client loves a black and white color scheme, but the backsplash accent tile in the kitchen makes a statement and provides a pop of glorious color.

Ready for your home transformation? We’re always happy to discuss what works in your space!

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