Though sold on HGTV as a boon to the entertaining lifestyle, the modern open concept in practice makes hospitality more difficult. A single cooking-dining-living space is difficult to keep clean to the standard many prefer when hosting guests, making impromptu invites tricky. “Messes and smells are no longer isolated, but can be easily tracked throughout the entire first floor of a large home,” says architecture critic Kate Wagner at City Lab. Beyond the unpleasantness of having dirty dishes in sight during a dinner party, an open floor plan can make smaller gatherings awkward, failing to provide the sense of intimacy that fosters good conversation. Parties need walls to literally force people together.
And because we no longer heat our homes with a single hearth, wall-less layouts mean energy waste. Heat from the kitchen can’t be easily confined in summer months, and climate control can’t be isolated to the room you’re actually using. The high ceilings and loft spaces popular in newer open concept houses are particularly bad in this regard. They also make DIY home maintenance, like painting and cleaning windows, substantially more difficult.
But perhaps the greatest problem with the modern open concept is that it simply doesn’t work well for real life. Open concepts are loud and busy, requiring everyone in shared living spaces to accommodate each other’s activities or vacate the area to get a little peace.