Open-plan living is no longer the preserve of trendy riverside loft apartments; the phenomenon has spread to the suburbs too. Walls have come crashing down as maximising space has become a national obsession. I suppose in an era where the density of the national population has never been higher that is only natural: nowadays, the only doors you get in some people’s houses is that you hear playing on the sound system.
Asides from freeing up space, open-plan living has many advantages. It brings in more natural light, which can lift your mood as well as cutting down on energy bills.
What else? Well, it also unites shared space to bring a feeling of ‘togetherness’ to your abode. And then there are the financial considerations. With just about every TV makeover programme telling viewers that open-living is now the lifestyle of choice, the popularity of accommodation with sweeping lines and uncluttered areas tends to be reflected in its market price. If you believe the so-called ‘experts’, having an open-plan lay-out can add thousands to your property’s value.
For me, though, it is all a bit too idealistic. Whilst open-plan living supposedly brings more of a community feel to your living arrangements, I’ve found that it can be quite negative too. There I a lot to be said for having your own space when you want it, and open-plan living doesn’t generally afford you that option of going someone quiet to do your own thing.
The lack of defined areas also causes problems when you have a number of people in the room all doing different things. How often do families sit down nowadays and watch the same TV programme? Very rarely, I bet. Christmas Day is probably one of the very few occasions that being cooped up together is just about tolerated.
The noise can be unbearable when you’re trying to sit down and read the paper (yes, a few of us still do that), whilst you’re in close proximity to someone playing Candy Crush to an accompaniment of grunts and groans; the X-Box is being pounded to death; and the little one’s musical toy is playing the same tune over and over again for what seems like an eternity.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that open-plan living has lost its seductive qualities. You hear of more and more people who are fed up of having to forsake their peace and quiet and privacy. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t try and have the best of both worlds. I started doing some research on ways you could partition your open plan living area while still keeping the illusion of space and came across some interesting ideas on http://www.todd-doors.co.uk. Todd Doors has a number of interior doors with safety glass panels that help maintain the illusion of extra space and let in the light, whilst also keeping out unwanted noise and hideous lingering odours from the previous morning’s fry up. Like most things, a compromise is nearly always available!