Read Southern Living's article below where Reed & Acanthus and Seven Other Designers Debate.
Open floor plans first became a thing in the 1950s and were considered a very modern design concept. They began gaining major traction in the 1990s and have become a given over the last two decades. That is, they were a given—until the pandemic hit. “With families spending more time together at home, and work from home and hybrid-work becoming the norm for many, closed floor plans provided a welcome sense of privacy for adults especially,” explains Caitlin Kah, founder of her namesake interior design firm in Palm Beach, Florida. Ultimately, there’s pros and cons to each, and we polled seven Southern designers about exactly that. To Kah, the appeal of an open floor plan is the sense of inclusivity and warmth they provide. “The very nature of an open floor plan allows for more conversation, communication, and all around togetherness,” she emphasizes. For families of young children and avid entertainers, this can be almost necessary, though it does result in more noise and less privacy. “From a design perspective, open floor plans allow the transfer of natural light through all of the spaces, and create opportunities for through views,” adds Cathy Purple Cherry, founder of her namesake interior design and architecture firm in Annapolis, Maryland. “Walking in the front door and being able to see straight through to the backyard doesn’t happen in closed floor plans.” Plus, “spaces feel larger even if they are not, and typically, open plans have more natural light coming into the home,” Andi Morse, founder of her namesake interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia, points out. Kah admits that it can be challenging to make an open floor plan feel cozybecause each space needs to have its own touch and charm white still being cohesive. Also, it can be very stressful to keep clean. Many designers enjoy closed floor plans and love how they fit today's lifestyles. “It allows us to create truly defined spaces through the house,” explains Erica Burns, founder of her namesake interior design firm in Washington, D.C. With open floor plans, you have to maintain a singular wall treatment and general mood—not to mention tidiness. For Amber Guyton, founder of Blessed Little Bungalow in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s a sentimental element to her preference as well. “It’s nostalgic to more traditional and smaller homes, providing a sense of coziness and intimacy larger open floor plans can lack,” she says. Purple Cherry, on the other hand, is very particular about the closed floor plans she works on: “A closed floor plan works only when the kitchen is large enough to also have a sitting area in it. Then, the kitchen itself functions as its own ‘mini’ family room. The only other time that I would support a closed floor plan is if one partner never watches TV and the other partner watches TV all the time.” For Bethany Adams, founder of her namesake design firm in Louisville, Kentucky, it all depends on the architecture of the home. “Modern houses tend to be more open and older homes tend to be more segmented,” she explains. Adams’ advice for those embarking on their own renovations? “The trend now is for flow, rather than wide open or closed off spaces. You may not see every inch of every room from one angle, but you can have visual and aural connections to the main spaces.” Case in point: Katharine Rhudy, founder of Reed & Acanthus Interior Design in New Orleans, Louisiana, recently completed the renovation of a historic home in her city. Instead of choosing between an open and closed floor plan, they opted for both. “We chose to keep the front of the home—entrance and formal living and dining rooms—on a smaller, more intimate scale,” she explains. “The rear of the home opens up to an expansive entertaining area containing the kitchen and family room, which leads to the outdoor kitchen, pool, and dining space.