Open Floor Plan Trends

For the last thirty years, residential architecture has been dominated by open floor plan concepts. The trendy design is accepted due to its ability to join rooms and create more of a social experience within the home. 

 

History 

 

Open floor plans are a relatively new concept in residential home design. Pre-World War II homes were constructed in a basic, one-dimensional layout, often connecting enclosed rooms with a long hallway, positioning the kitchen at the back of the house to be used for service. These configurations were not meant to accommodate modern gatherings. Throughout the 1950s, gatherings were still formal, which means the kitchen was off-limits to guests. 

 

It wasn’t until the post-war years that American families began to change their ways and reform to a more casual form of living. This slowly sculpted the open floor plan in modern construction, allowing families to grow in a spacious environment. By the 1990s, open floor plans became almost the norm for new construction, especially in suburban settings, and that trend holds true today. 

 

Innovation In Construction 

 

An open floor plan in residential architecture refers to a dwelling in which two or more common spaces have been joined to form a larger space by eliminating partition walls. Instead of interior load-bearing walls, heavy-duty beams carry the weight to create a spacious and sound living area. 

 

Simultaneous to American residential reform was the innovation of residential construction. Stronger materials and modern methods allowed open floor plans to be more practical and easier to build. Steel structural beams, central heating systems, drywall, and cinder-block construction made it easier to build larger rooms efficiently. 

 

Floor Plan Configurations 

 

  • Kitchen and dining room: Often, a kitchen and dining area share one common space. Sometimes a kitchen island or peninsula acts as a visual dividing line between the two areas.
  • Dining room and living room: A dining area and living room occupy one shared area. A visual dividing line may be in the form of thoughtfully placed furniture, two different paint colors, stairs leading to a sunken area, or a handrail.
  • Kitchen, dining, and living room: All three areas may be open in a large great room, often with a vaulted ceiling.

 

Advantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Better traffic flow. Without doors to open and close and no walls to hinder traffic, people can move through space unhindered.
  • Improved sociability and communication. Without walls, it’s possible to talk to one another across rooms.
  • Shared light. Interior spaces that were once without windows now get natural light from windows in exterior walls.
  • Improved real estate value. In almost every instance, an open floor plan is highly desirable and increases your home’s value to prospective buyers.
  • Easier to watch kids. Parents cooking in the kitchen or setting the dining room table can easily supervise children in the living room.

 

Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Costly to heat and cool. Great rooms with high ceilings are often energy drains, especially when the outer walls are equipped with large windows, as they often are. While traditional floor plans allow you to heat or cool only certain rooms, the entire space must be heated or cooled with an open floor plan.
  • Higher construction cost. Without partition walls, open concepts depend on steel or laminated beams for support. These are costly to install.
  • Poor sound control. Without partition walls to block noise, open concept homes can be very noisy.
  • Lack of privacy. Open floor plans are great for social activity, but they make it hard to find quiet spaces for private reading or study.

Products for a Sustainable Kitchen 

Going eco-friendly doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch and do everything at once. Slowly replacing items in your home for more sustainable versions is something we can all do without getting overwhelmed.

Any changes made toward an eco-conscious home are steps in the right direction, benefiting both the environment and your personal health. Keep reading for small changes you can make in the kitchen!

Kettle

Ovente Electric

Electric kettles are more energy-efficient than stove-top kettles. An electric kettle heats up on an electric coil that boils the water directly. Look for ‘quick boil,’ ‘one cup,’ ‘automatic stop,’ or ‘eco-friendly’ kettles. These types of kettles can prevent too much electricity being wasted by up to 50% and still boil your water just as fast. 

 

Coffee Maker

eco-friendly coffee maker
Eco-Carafe by Perfect Pod

For many, a coffee maker is a must-have. Our number one tip is to avoid single-use pod coffee makers. This type of coffee maker is harmful to the environment because the pods are not biodegradable. Disposable paper filters are bleached and inevitably end up in our landfills. Try swapping out these products with reusable options. Environment-friendly options that require less electricity and heat than your standard coffee maker are french press coffee makers and pour-over coffee filters. 

 

Alternatives to Paper Towels & Napkins

cloth napkins
Threshold Cotton Napkins

A simple and affordable way to transition to an eco-friendly kitchen is by swapping out single-use paper products for a reusable option. Cloth napkins and towels go a long way in reducing waste and depletion of paper. 

 

Food Storage

glass food storage
Glass Food Storage Containers

Are you looking to eliminate your use of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and Ziploc bags in your home? Reusable storage bags and glass storage containers are environmentally friendly and feasible ways to store food and leftovers. The simple act of cutting out single-use plastics can help avoid hundreds of plastic baggies ending up in our landfills and oceans. 

 

Pots and Pans

cookware
Green Life

Making the wrong decision on cookware can have a bigger impact than you think. Avoid any non-stick cookware made with Teflon, as these are chemical-laden, while eco-friendly cookware avoids chemicals and coatings.  

How are you taking the steps to a more sustainable kitchen? Let us know!

Kitchen Design: Forbes’ Top Trends in 2020

As the heart of the home and one of the most popular rooms to remodel, kitchens are always a main focus in residential construction. 

At the start of the new decade, Forbes gathered predictions from seven industry professionals to share the top kitchen trends for 2020. Here’s what they had to say:

Floor Plan and Layout

An open floor plan has been a desired layout for many years, and this is one trend that isn’t going away. However, experts are noticing a trend toward semi-open spaces. Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO at Sweeten, said semi-open spaces use “decorative architectural elements like archways to define ‘zones’ without closing off the room entirely.”

Kitchen Storage

With the number of cooking appliances, tools, and utensils, storage is essential in the kitchen. Here are a few trends in kitchen storage this year:

  • Drawers with customized storage options. 
  • Hidden storage is a key trend. Michele Alfano, principal at Michele Alfano Design, said, “Kitchen cabinetry is acting more like furniture with flat panels and integrated hardware. Our appliances are starting to be hidden and not visible in our kitchens.”
  • Floating shelves and glass-front cabinets open up the kitchen.
  • Soft close drawers and cabinets. 

Appliances

Convection and induction cooking are becoming more popular options with homeowners. In addition, most appliances are becoming “smart.” With advances in technology, appliances can do more than ever before. For those more interested in the finish of appliances, the experts agree that stainless steel will remain popular. 

Countertops

Quartz and porcelain are moving in, and granite is moving out.

“Porcelain slabs are proving to be more durable than granite and maintenance-free,” said Alfano.

In addition to countertops, these materials are being used for bar tops, island overhangs, and backsplashes. 

Flooring

Porcelain is also making its way to the floor in kitchens, in the form of large, sleek tiles. People are becoming more playful with the design and texture of the flooring. Alfano said,

“We will see more surprising textures, unique shapes, and richer veining.”

Sinks and Faucets

Smart faucet sensors will continue to appear in kitchens, allowing people to turn the water on and off with the wave of a hand. Black and brushed brass fixtures are trending with pro-style chef sinks in the kitchen. 

 

Kitchens are not only a place to prepare meals, but a room filled with social interaction, memories, and of course, good food. To make the most of a kitchen remodel, make sure the design reflects your style and way of life.

Mixing Metals: Dos and Don’ts

Cool metal tones have been the norm in homes and offices for years. Now, stainless steel, nickel, and chrome are starting to take a backseat to warmer finishes. 

Gold, copper, and bronze are appearing in kitchen and bathroom designs, but not in the polished and shiny way of the 70s. Brushed brass is a fresh look for all who are tired of the cool metal tones. 

The new trend doesn’t mean you should swap all your hardware, light fixtures, and plumbing over to gold or brass – especially if you are not sure if you love the look. Mixing metals allows you to incorporate warm and cool tones. When done right, mixing gold and silver creates eclectic spaces, making it look like items have been collected over the years. 

Keep reading for the dos and don’ts of mixing metals in interior design.

Do: Choose One Dominant Metal

One metal should stand out as the most prominent in any space. To keep the balance, select one metal for larger features or decor pieces and then choose one to two metals for accent pieces. 

Don’t: Mix More than 3 Metals

Matching all finishes creates an outdated, monochromatic look. On the other hand, mixing too many metals creates a distraction for the eye. In a smaller space, select two metals: one dominant and one accent. In a larger room, you can go up to three metals, especially if the third is for a statement piece. 

Do: Mix Warm and Cool Tones

Warm metals include gold, brass, and nickel. These rich colors add a pop to any room. Cool colors, such as silver and stainless steel, can be mixed with warmer hues. All metals can go together, as long as each finish is a thoughtful addition to the overall decor. 

Don’t: Forget about Texture

Polished, hammered, and matte finishes change the look and feel of each metal. Consider changing up the texture of the metals throughout the space, as well as the metals being used. 

Do: Space Metals Out

Metal on top of metal can make a room feel too industrial and cold. Spread out metals throughout the room, both horizontally and vertically, for a finished look. 

Don’t: Disregard Small Accents 

If you are easing into the thought of mixing metals, you can begin with small decor pieces like a small sculpture or understated light fixture. This keeps it subtle while adding a new dynamic to the room. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you love the look of mixing metals or do you think it’s just a fad?

Refrigerators Trends for Function and Style

When we work on residential units, we pay attention to every detail of the build, from the blueprints to the appliances. Advances in technology and new styles are making kitchen appliances more efficient and easier to use. 

The refrigerator is one point of the kitchen work triangle – a design principle stating that the fridge, sink, and stove should all be in close proximity for a streamlined workflow. 

As one of the most prominent items in the kitchen, it’s essential that the refrigerator doesn’t just keep food items fresh, but that it blends with the style of the kitchen. 

In recent years, refrigerators have upgraded in both style and functionality. Take a look at some of the options for your next kitchen renovation. 

Finishes

Stainless steel appliances have been at the forefront for years, due to the sleek look, easy maintenance, and ability to match any style. Stainless steel remains a popular choice, even while other finishes are beginning to appear in the kitchen. 

As one of the larger appliances in the kitchen, different refrigerator finishes can change the look of the room. 

Some popular options for refrigerators include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Black matte
  • Custom panels to match cabinets
  • Front window

Refrigerator Configurations

We’ve all had to reorganize the refrigerator after a grocery haul. Different food compartments, shelving, and drink storage make organization much easier. Full-size refrigerator units now include many different configurations. These include:

  • Side-by-side
  • Freezer on the top
  • Freezer on the bottom
  • French door refrigerators

Additional, smaller refrigerators can also be installed to make either the kitchen or adjoining rooms more functional. Wine fridges are popular in dining rooms or as part of a wet bar, while refrigerator drawers can provide extra storage in the kitchen. 

Food Preservation

Without functionality, style won’t matter. Upgraded technology ensures that proper humidity, temperature control, and air quality preserve foods. Airtight crispers, along with endless shelf and storage options, means you can get a refrigerator that best suits the needs of your family. 

 

Countertops: Granite vs. Quartz

In addition to appearance, there are several factors to consider when choosing a material for your countertop. A handful of materials can be used for countertops, which offer various aesthetic qualities and functions. Two of the most popular materials used for countertops are granite and quartz.

Having a general understanding of granite and quartz is important. Granite is a 100% natural material. It is mined from quarries, cut and then polished. Quartz countertops are a 95% natural material; the other five percent is binder and color. With this basic makeup in mind, we can compare qualities of both.

Look of Countertops

Granite is slightly more natural looking due to its 100% natural composition. It can be found in a variety of unique colors and patterns. Though not quite as organic in nature, quartz still provides a stone aesthetic. Since it is engineered, quartz may be more easily found to fit a particular color.

Maintenance

Granite is more porous than quartz. For this reason, it requires more maintenance. It is suggested that granite countertops be resealed annually to ensure longevity, while quartz does not need the same care.

Durability

Both granite and quartz are incredibly durable. Because of granite’s porous nature, spilled liquids can cause staining. While quartz will not stain, it can be damaged by excessive heat.

Price

While the cost of granite and quartz are similar, quartz can run slightly more expensive. Based on estimates from HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to buy quartz without installation fees is $75 per square foot, while slab granite can typically be purchased between $40 and $60 per square foot without installation. We suggest getting quotes from two to three professionals, with installation fees factored in, so that you are able to get what you want for the best price.

In deciding between granite and quartz, there is no right or wrong decision. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and you cannot go wrong with either.

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