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Jul 11 2018

Open-plan living – a trend on the wane

Open-plan living has been a huge trend for years. Merged cooking, eating and living spaces are now standard in all new builds. Even bedrooms and bathrooms are being combined into a single room. But slowly the trend is turning. Places of quiet retreat are now high on the wish list. 

Adverts show happy families leading carefree lives in stunning living spaces without doors or walls. And consumers are imitating this.  Over the past few years, individual areas of the home have completely merged into each other, creating a seamless transition from one area of the home to the next. With the open architecture, corridors and staircases can also be integrated into the living space and provide a space for furniture, among other things. The trend for transparency shows no sign of stopping even in the bathroom and the bedroom. Along with the dressing room, they have been combined into a single room. For many living situations, the open-plan concept offers a host of benefits. It fosters a feeling of togetherness, which has plenty of plus points especially for families with small children. It is also visually stylish and ideally suited to throwing large parties and get-togethers.

Many miss a sense of privacy

But slowly the trend is moving on from open-plan living. In a world where our whole lives are transparent with the rise of digitalisation, people are longing for spaces where they can get away from it all – at least in their own homes. But flexibility and individuality are hard to achieve with an open floor plan.

Even with state-of-the-art household appliances, a certain level of noise is unavoidable, and with an open-plan home, it’s hard to escape. Integrating the corridor into the living room poses a practical problem: where to put dirty shoes and wet jackets?

But if anything, it’s combining sleeping and personal hygiene in a bedroom-cum-bathroom that gives pause for thought. Where are you supposed to find a moment’s privacy?

The new direction: broken-plan living

Broken-plan living takes a step back from its extreme open-plan predecessor. The new trend fresh from the US is an evolution in open floor plans and a retreat from them.  It is based on a collection of small zones created on different levels. They may be intrinsically connected to each other, but not necessarily separate. With a broken-plan layout, the spatial and social benefits of open-plan living can be maintained, but spaces and functions are once again defined differently.

Architects employ half-height walls, partition walls and different floor coverings to create flexibility. Multifunctional use of the space is possible with sliding and rotating walls. Mobile chests of drawers and bookshelves separate different living spaces at least visually and provide a sense of privacy. The concept is ideal for families where the children are starting to grow up and new needs are emerging.

But broken-plan living has its downsides as well.  It’s neither open nor closed, and finding the right furniture to make it work can be a challenge.
Experts agree that it’s only a matter of time before the trend for open-plan living comes to an end completely and we see the return of enclosed living spaces. 

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