Residential Open Floor Plan Design

Combining Rooms Requires Architectural Design Considerations

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Home with a modern open floor plan
Home with a modern open floor plan
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Open floor plans have been popular since around 1990. They’ve been the center of attention in many comprehensive remodeling projects in older homes. The objective is to join kitchen, dining room, and living room, (or some combination of the three) into a form of communal living space, or as it has come to be known, the “great room.”

Positive Open Floor Points

  • Rooms can share lighting such as pendant track lighting fixtures with others, reducing duplication of resources.
  • Improves traffic flow between rooms.
  • It’s a contemporary style so it protects your home equity. This is key if you ever plan to sell your home.
  • It enhances sociability; communication between spaces is made possible (and you can keep an eye on the kids while you’re cooking).

Negative Open Floor Points

  • It will potentially cost more to heat and cool. Homes with stand-alone rooms can utilize heating and air conditioning zone control.
  • Forget about sound control.
  • There is a higher initial cost going it because, hey, no load-bearing walls!

Designing Around the No-Zoning Issue

Ironically, the very thing that gives the open-floor scheme its appeal, openness, can also present its own problem. With no delineation between the kitchen and other areas the space loses character. One way to give the living room its own identity is taking advantage of the furniture. A long sofa is a great way to create a delineation line.

Further, adding an area rug under the sofa and a floor lamp or two beside the sofa will give more definition to the living zone. Standing lamps will also serve to give your living room its own identity.

Resist the Temptation to Incorporate too Many Styles

A certain degree of eclectic design is great, but don’t overdo it. Mismatched furniture and interior decor items will visually over-complicate your open floor space and make it look busy. Choose furniture and accessories that differ in color and material but are still in agreement with one another visually, such as different shades of the same color. Different, yet compatible.

A Focus on Lighting

One common mistake is not carefully planning lighting at the beginning of the project. This is the time to do it! Lighting is not only functional, it also sets the mood in the space. Think carefully regarding your furniture placement. Be sure that your lighting is positioned where it needs to be. As an example, if your sofa is located to be a a delineation line, as mentioned above, an electrical outlet may need to be installed in the floor.

Also, consider the type of lighting technology you want where. Soft, bright, daylight, cool? LED, halogen, or fluorescent lighting? The types of fixtures can vary in the different rooms. One fixture I have is an LED light fixture that features three adjustable wings. Each wing can be adjusted which makes it very versatile. In some situations it is the ideal solution.

Make Your Kitchen Conform

One mistake that is often made is styling the kitchen separately for the other areas. Your kitchen should be considered an integral part of the architecture of your home and the style of your living area. When you are choosing elements for your kitchen like colors, cabinet styles, countertop, and backsplash materials be sure that they conform to the design era of your home as a whole as well as the decor you add to the adjoining spaces. For example, something as simple as repeating the same “family” of colors and finishes in your kitchen and living spaces will infuse a sense of cohesion aligning the two areas.

Residential open floor plan design is not difficult when you keep these concepts in mind. With new construction and a solid concept, it’s easy to do everything right the first time. When remodeling a home that currently has the separate-room concept, things get a bit trickier because special consideration must be given to removing load-bearing walls. And when buying a home that’s already open floor, you’ll want to make it your own stylistically, so keep these principles in mind.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

4 Types of Sink Faucets

by Kelly R. Smith

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Disassembling a sink faucet for repair
Disassembling a sink faucet for repair

Sink faucets — are they functional or decorative? A bit of both actually. But keep in mind that when purchasing a new one, don’t scrimp on the price. For one thing, if you want real long-lasting brass components, you are going to have to pay for it. Secondly, you want a big name brand so that replacement parts are easily accessible. There are 4 types of sink faucets to consider. If you are also installing a new sink/s, the drain may not match up with the sewage pipe. Here’s how I fixed a misaligned sink.

4 Types of Faucets to Consider

  • Ball faucets. This is considered a washerless faucet because of the absence of rubber or neoprene washers in its construction. It has a single handle that moves over a rounded ball-shaped cap that is right above the base of the faucet’s spout. The faucet has a single handle that controls a special plastic or metal ball inside the body of the faucet. The ball has chambers or slots in it, as well as rubber O-rings and spring-loaded rubber seals. Depending upon the ball’s position, the ball/lever assembly controls the flow and mixing temperature of the water coming out of the faucet. Because of the number of parts which make up this type of faucet, ball faucets tend to leak more than other washerless faucets such as the cartridge faucet or disc faucet. See my faucet repair article.
  • Disc (or disk, if you prefer) faucets. Another washerless type, ceramic disk faucets are the most recent development in emerging faucet technology. They are known by their single lever lording over a wide cylindrical body. This faucet mixes hot and cold water inside a mixing chamber that is referred to as a pressure balance cartridge. 2 ceramic disks located at the bottom of the chamber are engineered to raise and lower to control the volume of the water flow. The temperature is controlled by a side-to-side rotation of the handle. These faucets are known to be high-quality, very reliable, and do not need to be repaired often. That’s a good thing.
  • Cartridge faucet with 2 handles. Yet another washerless faucet, this one looks quite like a compression washer faucet. But, you can tell the difference by how the handles feel when they are operated. The compression faucet requires tightening down (or compress) the washer in order to staunch the water flow. With a cartridge faucet, the action is very smooth and consistent. With just a half turn, the handle goes from the off to the on position. It turns off without added pressure being required as with a compression faucet.
  • Compression washer faucet. This type has been with us since the beginning of on-demand indoor plumbing. You will find them in older properties, and updated versions are still found installed in utility sinks in newer homes to this very day. They are typically the cheapest to purchase but are the most prone to leaks and maintenance. Compression washer faucets are identified by their separate hot and cold water handles (H and C) and their action requiring you to tighten the handles down to close off the water flow. They work using a compression stem. This is a type of glorified screw with a washer at the end of it pressing against a valve seat.

So those are your choices of the 4 types of sink faucets. This article has described their functionality; it is up to you to choose the wow factor of the style. For the kitchen, I prefer a gooseneck style with a spray attachment, but hey, that’s just me.



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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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