Photos by Sara Essex Bradley

Are open floor plans on the way out?

Ah, the open floor plan. It seems so promising, with its layout intended to bring families together and usher a smooth transition between rooms, particularly when it comes to dining and living areas intended for entertainment. But these days, people are starting to embrace the function and style of closed floor plans once more. Colleen Waguespack, owner of Colleen Waguespack Interiors, is all in favor of the shift. In fact, she confesses that she was never a fan of the open floor plan in the first place.

“There are so many problems with that idea,” says Waguespack. “First of all, the kitchen. No one can cook and tidy at the same time, and I don’t want to see a pile of dirty dishes in the sink when I’m sitting down to eat. I like to move to a nice clean dining room, which also helps with teaching and learning manners.”

Lighting is another big obstacle Waguespack finds herself tackling in the open floor plan concept. “A house typically has a combination of lighting coming from a lot of different sources, but lamps add warmth and light closer to eye level,” she explains. “Lamps are very hard to incorporate into an open floor plan, and no client loves it when I explain we’ll be cutting a hole in their expensive rug to get a wire to a floor outlet.”

In contrast, a closed floor plan offers plenty of wiggle room for individual personality to shine in small, contained rooms. “These smaller spaces are often the ‘jewel boxes’ of the house because people feel more comfortable doing something bolder, like using a strong color or adding lacquer to the walls,” Waguespack says.

A closed floor plan doesn’t forbid large spaces, though. For example, Waguespack prefers a combination of room sizes, because larger rooms are necessary for gatherings and entertaining. “But it’s nice to have more personal smaller rooms threaded in as well,” she adds.

However, Waguespack says that trends constantly come and go in the world of interior design. “Your home is a big investment, so I’m all about keeping things fresh, but I steer clear of trends that seem fleeting,” she says.

Instead, Waguespack prefers to lean into other ways to open up a home, and is certain that the concept of indoor/outdoor living spaces is a trend that’s here to stay. “I think that’s a much more appropriate space to combine cooking, dining and living spaces along with a big screen to watch a ball game,” she says.

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