- Open plan layouts reduce the feeling of claustrophobia and anxiety – Want to know a nifty little trick to make your home look bigger? Look for a space that has an open plan design where the kitchen, dining area and living room are all combined in one great room with no physical barriers (i.e., walls) separating one area from the next. The total lack of walls to separate the kitchen, living and dining rooms can contribute to a feeling of spaciousness, making a 500 sqft condo seem bigger than a 2,000 sqft house that have many walls to separate each and every part of the house. Walls can make a home feel all chopped up and a lot smaller than it really is. Open plan spaces, which became popular starting in the 1950s, tended to make your home feel bigger because people can see through all the windows as soon as they entered a house. Having less walls brings in more light, making your space look brighter and airier. New York City based therapist Stephani Rojas who is on the media dvisory team for a depression research organization, says that “living in smaller spaces can be difficult and anxiety-inducing for people while in a 400-to-700-square-foot space, you’re more likely to see the same space and objects over and over again making your feel trapped, restless, and agitated over time.” according to Rojas, “It can impede on your ability to enjoy your living quarters and it makes you feel less motivated to spend time at home.”
2. Open plan layouts make your home feel bigger with floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of some greenery – To maximize the feeling of spaciousness and airiness, look for an space that has 6 to 7 ft tall (or higher) windows. Or ask your architect to incorporate large picture windows. Not only will you be letting in more light and more air, you’ll experience a doubling effect especially if you have view of a nice garden, forest or mounting as your views will seem to stretch to eternity. This is the primary reason people are attracted to homes with open plan layouts. They want to integrate the outside as part of their ‘living room’ and you can only do that if you have tall and wide windows. Open plans, combined with large windows can be very beneficial for people who are prone to experiencing SAD (seasonal affective disorders) which is typically treated with the use of light therapy. Having lots of natural light – and large open spaces – helps to alleviate this situation especially for people that live in cities that have long and chilly winters, too much rain or not enough sunshine. Being trapped indoors for long stretches can lead to cabin fever, which is a condition used to describe stress and irritability from being physically confined for long stretches. Having an open plan with windows that provide pleasant views helps to alleviate this. And if you’re lucky to be have abundant greenery to look at outside your window, it’s been found that nature views can reduce the length of a patient hospital stays according to one study published in the Journal of European Psychiatry. So positioning yourself close to window where you can enjoy view of nature and get exposed to more sunlight is good for elevating your mood and sense of well-being.
3. Better light distribution that reduces dark corners and energy consumption – When you have less walls and more windows around the house, you’ll be the beneficiary of the effects of natural light shining throughout your living, dining and kitchen areas. You’ll have less need to illuminate these 3 areas using artificial light as you’ll have abundant sunlight pouring into your home at least during the day to do the job when you have windows on 2 (and especially 3) sides of your house and no walls blocking the spread of light which doesn’t cost any money. Not only does the abundant natural light make you more cheerful and less prone to seasonal affective disorder (which is primarily treated through light therapy), you’ll also be able to enjoy heat generated by the sun making it easier to shut off (or at least lower the temperature) on your space heater allowing you to lower your energy bills. Look for a home that has north- and south-facing windows in particular as these are the best in letting in heat during winter and not letting in too much heat in the summer. In fact, in a study conducted by the Energy Center of Wisconsin, they found a lighting savings of 32 %, a cooling savings of 25 % and a negligibly higher heating costs. The rend result was 22 percent total energy savings.
4. Improved air flow/circulation with less walls and more windows – When you have an open plan, it’s easier to have cross-ventilation or air flowing between 2 or more windows since there are no walls to block the air circulation. That’s why narrow or tunnel-shaped layouts with windows only on one side of the house can be the most challenging to live since air can only enter from one side of the house and may not have the chance to reach the back of your home making for poor air circulation. What results is a space that can get very stuffy during summers and a lot colder during winters. Once this happens you may be forced to use air-conditioning during the warmer months and you may need to turn on your heaters during the colder parts of the year. Another thing you may be forced to cool down a room and promote air flow is to install several fans to help the air circulate throughout the space. Having a second window really helps make a room much more bearable during extreme temperature conditions with the sun helping you heat your space when it gets too chilly inside and the wind helping you cool things down once the hot summer months arrive. It also makes it less of a necessity to open your main entrance door which is what most people do when they don’t have a second window to let the air flow from one side to the other as it can be a security risk to leave your door ajar. Having good air circulation also stops the growth of mold and the spread of viruses which can hang in the air longer especially in poorly ventilated spaces. In addition, poorly ventilated rooms make it harder to work, sleep or play forcing people to go somewhere else just to feel more comfortable. Plus, well-ventilated rooms tend to smell better and feel fresher than rooms where the air is trapped and has difficulty moving through.
5. Makes it easier to talk to people, entertain, and monitor kids due to clear and open sightlines – Do you like to prepare food and be able to see (and talk) to family members at the same time? Do you like to have lively interactions with your guests while you cook their meal? Do you want to be able to watch out over your young offspring to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves while they’re playing? Or do you have pets that are hyperactive that you need to keep an eye out for in case they start to chew on your furniture? Having an open plan where there are no walls between the kitchen, dining room and living room areas makes that all possible. While cooking smells might permeate your entire house (especially if you like to deep fry or use spicy ingredients) the beauty of having a space without walls is that you can juggle several things all at once. And since preparing a meal can take an hour or more of your time, it can certainly make for an increased level of engagement between members of your family and the people that they bring into your space which can make for more interesting and lively interactions. Working in a closed-off kitchen limits the amount of interaction between family members to conversations at the dinner table while having an open plan with no walls allows people to talk to one another for extended periods, including meal preparation and during the cleanup stage.