Thank you so much for a great release, guys. We are both very grateful for all of your support. It’s very exciting to see our work produce so much discussion and speculation. It’s also a little tiring. I called Jeaniene on Friday and tried to have a conversation, and ten minutes into it, she said, “You realize you’re so tired, you can’t even talk?”
I feel like we’ve done a lot of promotional and fiction related posts, and now it’s time to switch gears and work on Hidden Legacy #5 in peace and quiet. Murdering people in horrible way requires a lot of concentration. I’m really tired of being Ilona Andrews, so fair warning, a lot of the posts from now on are going to involve just daily life for awhile and rambling on things we watch and read. With that in mind, I present to you the current topic.
Open floor plans.
In theory, a marvelous idea. Let’s merge the kitchen and living room and sometimes even dining room into the same huge space. Parents are not stuck in the kitchen. They can supervise children while making dinner. They can socialize with their friends while they are entertaining.
In practice, the dumbest idea ever. Do you know what’s a really messy process? Food preparation. It generates huge amount of trash and messy dishes. You know what you don’t want to do while you are cooking? Having your friends and acquaintances whom you’re attempting to impress with your culinary mastery observe the process and comment on every step. No, no, please enlighten me with your observation on the complex artistry of me cutting up a tomato. Please. I welcome all suggestions. With this big ole cleaver in my hand.
Kids tend to be very distracting. The last thing I want is to be distracted while I am trying to stir-fry something at instant blister temperatures so it’s neither too under-cooked nor too mushy. And when I am done, I am left with two options: I can either immediately clean the mess I made because it’s out in the open for everyone to see or I can resign myself to gross island and a sink full of dirty dishes and attempt to serve dinner against that backdrop. If I choose the option #1, instead of gaining more time with my family as open floor plan suggests, I actually lose time because I am cleaning while everyone else is either eating or socializing.
I don’t want a hidden kitchen, but I want enough separation between kitchen and dining room, so I can leave the mess, walk away from it, and serve dinner in peace. This is probably why we rarely entertain at home outside of feeding a small herd of children’s friends during holidays.
And by the way, who are these people who constantly “entertain?” I always see this in house buying shows. “Oh we love to entertain. We entertain all the time.” No, you don’t. You know what you’re going to do? You’re going to come home after working really hard to pay off this new expensive house, you will eat dinner, and then you will turn on Netflix and pass out in ten minutes like normal people. Who are these friends who have the energy to keep going to other people’s houses instead of spending time with each other and I don’t know, reading a book instead?
Fight me in the comments.
I feel like I am more social now than I ever was, buuut that usually ends up being me meeting friends for dinner, or we play a board game or watch netflix for awhile, so I totally am also on team ‘who entertains often?!’
That said, thank you so much for all the hard work, I know I really loved the new book, and I hope you get a proper break now that it’s out!
In my 30s with young child we “entertained “ a lot . As I got older I realised books and Netflix are but better company , they don’t argue or leave a mess !
There will be no fighting, I totally agree. I don’t have an open floor plan and I love it. Nobody ever has to see my kitchen unless I invite them in. Do I wish I’d had better eyesight of my kids when they were younger? Sure. But they’re only that little once, and now they’re big enough to ignore for long stretches and I can cook in (relative) peace.
I’m with you. There’s a backstage in most theaters for a reason.
You know what I miss in our semi-open plan house? Doors. When you live with pets and people, doors can prevent conflict, mayhem and murder. I wish we’d held out for more doors.
Mary Obermite says
Please be good to yourself. You really do far more than anyone could expect with this blog and while I enjoy the snippets and book talk, I also like to hear the normal, day-to-day stuff.
Of course, as much as I enjoy your writing, you could also wow us with your grocery list. We are a greedy hoard, after all, and knowing your favorite chips would bring us all closer:)
As for entertaining, I find I enjoy the idea far more than the reality. The only real way to entertain, IMHO, is to begin at a reasonable hour, say 2pm, finish by 6 or 7, and have friends who like to clean–or a maid. This allows for Netflix normal to begin promptly, in time for Netflix napping–a personal family favorite.
We all love the idea of entertaining. It sounds lovely, a house full of people and warmth. In reality, it stresses most of us out no end, and the ones it doesn’t stress out don’t need fancy houses to make it happen.
I can’t comment on the kitchen because I do not have the magic touch for home renovations, but I do want you to know that I loved, LOVED, Catalina’s book. I have book hangover. I have end-of-book-blues. A colleague actually asked me if I was okay yesterday and I was tempted to explain but knew they wouldn’t get it. Your book followed me out, and I mean that as a compliment!
Awwww. Thank you!
Open floor plans are the worst for all the reasons you mention. As for entertaining, that’s what restaurants are for.
Jenny V says
I couldn’t agree more. Also I
cherish my time away from the kids while I cook. Don’t steal my tiny bit of me time. Open floor plans. ????
I have a teeny tiny galley kitchen. I enjoy a space so small that there is no chance i will trip over the pugdog. Because there is no open floor space for her. I can clean it in 5 minutes or less. Open floor plan my butt. I’m with you.
Maria (BearMountainBooks) says
We just took out walls to create an open floor plan. The rooms were too small otherwise. I don’t really need a dining room because after cooking I just want to plop down wherever and eat. Mom and Dad like a formal dining room even though we are not formal in it. I don’t care if people watch me cook. They can sit and talk while I’m cooking and they can throw advice at me if they want. I’ll ignore it anyway.
As long as the room isn’t small and dark, I’m good. Bring on the windows. As for entertaining there’s no time for it. You can stop in if you want and if there’s food, grab a plate.
Oh do I have to fight?! I just want to agree! I know the US houses are different, but I live in a completely not open plan house. The kitchen/diner is a room. The living room is a different room. As I believe it should be. Also I never entertain, but that’s mostly because I can’t really cook and don’t have enough insurance to risk be sued. I loved Sapphire Flames, thank you for writing it. Also thank you to Gordon for recently liking one of my tweets – it briefly made me an object of jealousy among my friends!
Duffi McDermott says
Lianne’s comment about Catalina’s book…works for me.
I agree with you about open plan kitchen/dining rooms. I’m not fond of my kitchen – a walk-through, galley kitchen – but at least there is some separation from the dining/living area.
If I were designing a floor space, I’d have to do a lot of research. But open floor plans just don’t work for me.
Also, Loved The Book!
Entertaining is so much fun! **When you can hire a caterer and serving staff**
Otherwise it’s just a lot of work that you don’t enjoy because you = work and you have little time to enjoy and socialize.
I’ve had both, open floor and… not open floor, whatever that “plan” is called, and I’ve found regardless of how small that hidden kitchen might be, people tend to congregate there – completely oblivious of my body language that screams “if I have to say excuse me or navigate around you people ONE MORE TIME while I attempt to cook, I’m gonna throw a onion at your head”
Lol! No fight here, I am afraid. Any “entertaining” my family does involves people who are thankful for a meal that they didn’t have to cook themselves. They could not care less that the kitchen sink and center island look like a tornado hit. So if you invite folks over, if they don’t like the mess, then they can do the dishes lolol. Seriously, as a mom I can’t tell you how many movies/conversations/fun I missed out on because I had to do everything. Just relax and know that your friends are there for the joy of your company and couldn’t give a tinker’s dam about the state of your kitchen.
Also, your center island is gorgeous ????
Oh no, that’s not mine. That’s a stock photo. 🙂
Karen the Griffmom says
My current home has everyone entering directly into the kitchen/dining/laundry area. We did not buy this house for me.My husband has ten acres, two ponds, a batn, a pole barn, a maple syrup shack and a detached three car garage to play in. I have a house half the size I’m used to.
Do you really want the smell of cooking all over the house. I say a firm NO to ‘0pen planned’ kitchens.
Take some down time to catch your breath ( and catch up on sleep). Thank you for HL5, and all the lovely Snippets.
This! We have an open floor plan and I feel like every night I cook dinner the whole entire house smells like whatever I cooked. And you lose a lot of storage space with open floor plan.
Alexis Betts says
We would love an open floor plan, but that’s because we don’t really care about being messy.
And we do “love to entertain.” First, because we have little kids and going out is just as much a chore (and as expensive) as having people over. Second, because we have quite a few friends who are single/unmarried who may be renting a room or an apartment or even passing through on their road trip. So, it’s natural for them to come to our house and hang out in our house or backyard. With these people, they’re family or practically family, so we’re not really trying to impress them. They get to see how the cooking is done, are expected to participate in the prep and/or the cleanup. So the more obvious the mess is, the better!
I’m not going to fight you. I agree! I thought I’d like an open floor plan until I went to my niece’s for dinner. We like frozen margaritas and the blare of the blender made all conversation stop while the drinks were being made. Annoying and loud. Then I realized that my kitchen is often messy. If not with dishes, then the mail and other detritus of living. The counters are rarely without stuff on them. I also laughed at the “entertain” of house hunting. I agree. We all want to entertain. But hardly anyone does it anymore. Everyone is too tired to host or too tired to go.
No fighting here, though I will say we’re back to living in a place with a more open floor plan after three years of me trying to make do in tiny galley kitchens, and now I feel like I actually get to see my husband when he gets home from work as I’m cooking dinner, so there’s that.
However, I’ve also made a very strong point about my line of demarcation, as it were: don’t come past the barstools at the island and you won’t be accidentally stabbed/burned/splashed/put to work.
I agree with everything. The open floor plan is good in theory, but not always in execution. Especially if your sink is located on an island in the middle of the floor, right dead center for all to see.
I don’t have children, but I have a very hyper and sassy two-year-old mainecoon mix that likes to stare and judge me while I prep cook and the open concept lets him do that from pretty much every angle.
I am actually currently in the process of buying a condo. I go to closing in two weeks. My apartment is a mess of boxes, and I am so stressed out about it that only family has been allowed over in the last month.
Ashley R says
Nope- I agree. I HATE open floor plans. I live in one and there’s so much unused square footage we have to heat with no real use to it. It’s supposed to be a formal dining/sitting off the kitchen/ dinette (all four in one open space) but all we do is walk through it. And there’s no good way to set it all up!
No need to fight, I feel the same way. My house is my house. I may have my girlfriends over once a month, but there are only 2 of them. My daughter has friends over several times because … its her house, lol. Outside of that, dont even come to my house. My entertaining space is for me to entertain myself. I cook, with a microphone in hand and music blasting … or Im watching PBS kids because I cant help it.
I’ve never related to anything this hard ????
Our new apartment has a separate kitchen, and I’m really looking forward to it. God I hate looking at the dirty dishes. And with a kid who’s just learning to crawl it’s real nifty to be able to put a baby gate in, so you don’t have a little vacuuming, curious and everywhere-at-once baby to step on.
Mary Beth says
Screens/dividers helped me when I lived in a ridiculously open floor plan house. I put one around the island in the kitchen, just far enough out to give walking room, just enough to cut off line of sight to the mess in the kitchen. I put signs on the screens that said if anyone went past them at meal time, they got to do the dishes.
Never had a trespasser. Go figure.
At that time, I was married maybe five years, and we often found ourselves with extra people living with us for a week at a time. Some were business people who had no expense account, others were friends visiting the city for whatever and couldn’t afford a hotel, still others were dropped off ‘for a few days’. We had two dishwashers and they ran every day in the summer. It was merry bedlam. Thank god those days are gone.
Loved Sapphire Flames. Please take the time you need to do nothing, recharge, and do what makes you happy.
Sarah M says
We are house shopping right now, and I can tell you I like a partially hidden kitchen. Give me a good passthrough, where I can see the kiddos but my dishes are hidden. Also the entertaining thing is completely true. We have friends over a couple times a month to play board games, but we potluck it if we do food, or just have snacks, because If I’m cooking, I’m not properly talking and “Entertaining” friends. Also, I agree about the doors. Doors mean privacy and toddler containment.
Netflix on the couch never fails.
There is a reason we live in the middle of the woods, through all the twisty roads. We don’t want company!. ????
Leo Kerr says
Clearly, they’re not showing you the Prep Kitchen, where you do all of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff, and all the messy stuff remains safely out of sight. You only bring the exact stuff you need out to the kitchen island, prepare it à lá a Hibachi restaurant (including flipping the shrimp tails into your toque), and everything is beautiful.
Yeah, right. Not in real life!
But I like the idea of people being stupid enough to critique your skills when you have a huge knife designed for smashing through bones in your hands.
Bought my house 15 years ago in an old NJ town full of Victorians & Colonials. Almost every 150 year old house had been renovated to have an open floor plan. It looked so weird with the outside. It was jarring. Also I curse constantly when I cook, so walls.
The greatest miracle in the Bible is that Jesus had 12 friends in his 30s.
Seriously who ARE these people who entertain and socialise all the time and what inheritance from a mysterious uncle did they receive?
I’m lucky if I chat with my friends by text and postpone getting together for coffee for only 2-3 months.
Totally with you on the separate kitchen, I love to cook, but too OCD to enjoy eating it whilst the mess I made is right there next to me.
I love y’all! The sarcasm, it burns! I think it is hilarious that someone would feel the need to give advice regarding slicing the tomato. ???? No, I wouldn’t want the cooking mess to be there constantly either. I, for one, am quite happy with your family posts. Thank you for sharing your life with us.
I’d love to entertain, but I’ve always got my head in a book. So, I have very few friends. 😉
That being said, I love my open kitchen. I always felt isolated in my old kitchen. Everyone was in another room and I was stuck in there cooking dinner. I just ignore the mess until I finish eating.
I agree in theory, but in practice, everyone congregates in the kitchen anyway, so you might as well have as much room as possible. I guess maybe if I was fancy enough to get everything done early then a separate space would be nice, but I’m never that on top of it, so I’d rather see my friends (and they see my messy kitchen) than be stuck off cooking by myself. 🙂
I don’t mind seeing your dirty dishes. Heh! I just don’t want to show you mine.
Guau, this is so helpful. We are looking for a new home and have 2 little kids. I thought open floors were best opción. I love deco tv shows…. but you are right. I will rethink options. Maybe a window’ to dinning room área a salon would be enough and you can close it it you dont want to see”…
By the way, congrats for the new book, i really liked it, i think Catalina is and evolved main character . I love kate and nevada and the others as well, but i found somethinf diferente in Catalina and i like it.
Yes. Open floor plans are a nightmare. Never once have I been in my kitchen and thought about how much better the meal prep would be going if I could see everybody and everybody could see me.
And don’t get me started on home shows. Sure, I watch them for the houses but the people frustrate me to no end. Why do all these buyers act as if they have been longing for a rain shower head their whole lives but can only have one if it is already installed in the new bathroom?
Loved loved loved the book and so looking forward to more in that world. In any and all of your worlds.
Rain shower heads actually don’t deliver as much pressure so for my hair, I’ll take the regular one. 🙂
Totally agree! Besides that, I can’t stand water constantly on my face while I’m taking a shower.
Totally agree! Beyond that, I can’t abide water constantly in my face while I’m taking a shower.
I think about entertaining but don’t. People invite me to things and by the time the event rolls around I would rather stay home. I lived in that open plan, and you are right, just exposed everyone to the messs and served to distract. I’ll go for slightly open with walls that hide the sink of dirty dishes!
Take the time to decompress . . . my logic is to try and get a week between jobs, it’s my way to mark a job complete and prepare for the next one . . .
Open Plan: Well, that explains why I when I plan my dream kitchen layout it’s a combination of my sister’s house and my sister-in-law. Both have a kitchen that is big enough to have two or more people in it without bumping into anyone, but not right in the middle of the open plan. Separated either by a strategic high counter or informal eating next to the kitchen with formal dining separate.
We don’t entertain. We’d much rather lounge on the couch (where we usually eat dinner) wearing comfy jammies and slippers. My husband hates, hates, hates open floor plans, so not a fan there. I try to hide the mess in the dishwasher as much as possible, but there’s always the things we don’t put in there – our good knives, rice cooker, aluminum sheet pans that oxidize horribly, so we can never get away from the mess. I’m with you – Netflix, Jammies, my Snuggie and Naptime.
Liz Mansfield says
I agree, but I would like to be entertained. ????
Akeru Joyden says
Dual dishwashers and multi-kitchen equipment. That is my solution. I nevery stop to wash while prepping or cooking. In the dishwasher it goes… grab the next implement and carry on. Always always empty cleaned dishes as soon as possible, so I don’t have to start cooking by unloading dishwasher.
But I would fight you for the open plan… but then no kids, or entertainment…. and no walls to accumulate stuff against. I just want a wide open space. But then my home is a 1970s MIL cottage… and my kitchen is the size of a postage stamp… a real postage stamp. I would kill for that island!
Seriously, who is giving you gruff about how you cut a tomato? They should just be happy that you are cooking for them and feeding them? What the heck? Let me have the cleaver for a while and I’ll show them how I carve tomato… and other things.
One of the first things my mother said about my house when I first looked at it? It has a high bar around the kitchen, which at least partially hides the mess after I cook, especially if anyone is sitting at the couch and at the table. So even though I have open concept, I can somewhat hide any mess in the kitchen.
And you should totally just leave the mess after you cook… and hint broadly that someone else should clean up. 🙂
I completely agree with you on the open floor plans! I would hate to have to immediately clean up after cooking. Might be because I cook messily, might be because I am a lazy person, who knows.
I ‘entertain’ like once a quarter and around my birthday 😀
but I sometimes go climbing /bouldering with friends of mine and afterwards we stop at my friend’s place and cook something together – mostly easy stuff though: pasta, pizza, one pot recipes. We clean up together afterwards so nobody is stuck with it all that crap. No entertaining necessary, just a couple of friends hanging out. Highlight of my social calendar 😀
Fight you? While you got that big ole cleaver in your hands? Nope. I’m out! P.S. My Mom always says of guests, “If they don’t want to see our mess, they can leave!”
uhhhh, single parent of 2 boys here. There will be no fighting/disagreeing/debating on my part.
My children learned very quickly – stay out of my kitchen, I will feed your hungry-horde self when it’s done. This is my domain, take the cookie jar and go away. 🙂
Sounds like sense to me. I have never lived in an open concept house. And the only people who have time and energy to entertain all the time must not either need any sleep or not to work.
Do I have to fight you? Can’t I just agree that I’d rather play a not-online game in isolated splendor and crash out after?
Also, since I latched right on to the invitation to fight and forgot the rest of the post’s subject, the new book was great! Loved it and loved the new snippets! As always, I finished the book feeling very grateful that the two of you write.
/(`o`)/ FIGHTTTT!!!!!! ~(-_-)~
Ha Ha Ha! Entertain? I’m sorry, what’s that? When my family comes over, they help! So if you can see my kitchen, you get drafted.
You forgot to mention the smell. It gets everywhere with an open floor plan. Can you imagine the smell of cooked fat impregnated in the couch cushions? No, thanks, I prefer my kitchen with a door
Open floor plans absolutely require a first-class range hood, or they’re shite. If you don’t have something that you can actually feel sucking you in, there’s no point. If you DO, then smell isn’t a problem. Unless you put the sofa directly against the cooking island.
My sister entertains all the time. And people sit around her island as she preps food, while others congregate out in the living room, or the patio, or the porch… But at least twice a week, she has an extra 3-10 people at her house, and at least once a month she has an extra 10-20 people there.
I seriously don’t get it. I require a couple days advance notice before people show up at my house, and I have everything done that I can ahead of time. And I shoo people out of the kitchen (except my mom – she doesn’t shoo so easily) if I have to do anything while they are there. Granted, I also hide in the kitchen to avoid the people that have descended on my house…. so that might play into my thoughts.
I entertain roughly 2-3 times/month, but never more than 8 (at very most 10) people. Part of that is that more people does not make for a better party, and part of that is that more people doesn’t make ME better at socializing. More than that, and I hide in the kitchen from people I’ve invited to be my guests.
And it does require planning and a flexible-ish job schedule. I’m unemployed at the moment, but most of the time, I’ve been able to rearrange my work hours to get off a bit early — as long as I worked late another night, it was no problem.
Nowadays my twice/month is restricted to my gaming group (Shadowrun!), and socializing has been PLANNED. Right down to the combat. So I don’t have to worry about that, either.
Nothing more frightening than hearing someone knock at the door unexpectedly!!!
Seriously. I don’t answer the door if I’m not expecting anyone or any deliveries. I’ve had times where my sister has had to text me to say, “I’m at the door, I know you hear the bell, open up!” (She obviously knows me well…)
I believe people who entertain a lot also have a full-time maid and a caterer. They can come home, change, and greet their guests without having to lift a finger. Normal people can’t do that.
We have a new house with very high ceilings and an open floor plan. Something I didn’t realize until we moved in is that anything that is cooked in the kitchen spreads its smells throughout the house and into upholstery and carpets. And, yeah the kitchen has to be
clean at all times.
Laura the Librarian says
I love hearing an honest review in something like this! Sure…in theory sounds and looks great but I wanna know what it’s like when real people live in it. Awesome. Thanks for sharing. Personally, I really enjoy hearing your bits and pieces of real life observations. You make me smile and/or cringe, and generally empathize with you on your journey through life. Thank you! And yep, read the latest book. Twice. And enjoyed it both times. ????
Loved the book!!
I agree with you! When you have company, you spend more time cleaning up from prep and cooking than you do socializing. Who does have time for that though? It is only nice when cooking in groups “Bread making, sopes , pasta ect.”.Maybe someone can get a kitchen shield manufactured for us. Press a button and opaque shield hides all mess! ????
I didn’t think about this. It’s crazy, I want an open floor plan, but I never considered the problems. What I have now is a pass through. Basically a window in my kitchen, so I can see the other rooms, but can’t actually see from the other rooms to the kitchen tables unless I’m standing at the pass through. It helps a lot. Maybe that’s a good in between.
Also, I feel the exact same about entertaining. It’s the worst.
I completely agree, they are beautiful, the thought is lovely… and unless you are ocd and wash everything instantly, there is a mess. But when good friends are there and the food is gone. My friends and family help clean. Y’all need down time. Somehow… something that lets you relax. And by the way… the book was fabulous.
Autism for one kid and heightened anxiety/hearing/sense of smell for both offspring – I’ll see you and raise the ante!!!!
Well, probably not. I HATE open floor plans. Little privacy and sound carries. See sentence #1.
I grew up in an older house, with rooms and walls. My first house was tiny, but similar. Newer houses – it’s cheap and lazy to have open floor plans, IMO.
I try to entertain. It’s more spaghetti and garlic bread or tea with scones, and my friends understand I am messy. I also have hilarious cookbooks that make for fun social experiments, such as cooking by your sign of the Zodiac or a TARDIS cook book.
I did, for a while, use the Williams-Sonoma cook book, but then I got married and had kids.
Thank you for your books! I read Catalina’s book and then had to re-read the series.
Two shows? Man you guys live an exciting life. I’m lucky if I get to it watch one show before I fall asleep. And I loved the new book and devoured it in less than a day despite pesky work demanding a good portion of my attention.
I admit I loved my open floor plan house when we rented it, but I’m also SUPER organized when I cook, up to and including the motto that “the ONLY dirty dishes left at the time dinner is served are the vehicles the food was cooked in.” That leaves me with one pan and one casserole dish or a couple of small pots. And that assumes the vehicle the food was cooked in isn’t the same one it’s served in (if there’s actually a casserole in that dish, for example, rather than potatoes). I got into this habit from having had to live with very small kitchens at several points in my life, and from cooking a couple of entire Thanksgiving dinners — I will FIRMLY agree that for Thanksgiving dinners, no, I do NOT want commentary or help (the easiest one I ever did was when my sister-in-law asked “how can we best help?” and I said “everyone stay out of the kitchen until dinner is served, and DON’T try to help, and they DID. It went soooooo smoothly).
It takes maybe ten minutes extra total (setup & cleaning, but mostly in setup), and I save well over that time on cleanup after dinner. And a good thing I had that habit in place already, otherwise I would be too annoyed with my husband to survive. He told me early on that while he loved my cooking, he absolutely hated washing dishes and would rather eat bread and cheese and not wash dishes than a perfect meal and do more than put his plate in the dishwasher. So he does that, and laundry, and I don’t murder him because there’s only 2-3 dishes left to clean anyway.
My brother, who has the exact opposite philosophy from mine, AND a huge open floor plan, just doesn’t care about the dirty dishes. Meanwhile, if I’m in a kitchen where he’s cooking, I’m making us both crazy by following behind him and taking his dirty stuff. Fun times.
Sarah K says
I’m the same with my cooking/cleaning style! I like things organized, prepped, and quickly cleaned while cooking. We have a beautiful open floor plan and huge kitchen island. For my home, the benefit is definitely with the eating and cooking area that both can see out the glass to our pool area. We have other rooms (including a rec room) that are separate and closed off from the living/eating/kitchen open space so there are places to go to avoid the large space. We also have a strong hood and vent system so that helps too (but you can definitely smell when I’m making my roast chicken and various desserts/pies).
The strong hood is a necessity, as I said up there ^^. But yes, it makes me absolutely nuts to see dishes piling up around me while I cook. It makes me nuts to see dishes piling up around my brother when he cooks. I tend to follow him and grab his dirty stuff and load it into the dishwasher. He hates it, because I’m constantly asking him if he’s, for example, finished with the measuring cup. And worst of all? He doesn’t KNOW. He came to Wien to visit, and cooked for us one night, and that was absolutely all I could take. One night.
Lynn Latimer says
I totally agree. I wish I had been smart like my SIL who had a big pocket door to close off her kitchen and keep folks from wondering in to bother her. I do not like an audience when I cook, and I very much want to keep all my fingers and not be distracted.
Jaime Bolton says
I don’t care about dirty dishes, so I could handle that. What irritates me is all the dining options all in view of each other. Perhaps if I had a huge family with lot of little kids it would be nice at the holidays, but I don’t. Just a mental pet peeve to see a dining room, breakfast nook, and bar stool seating all within view of each other. Like, come on, is that really necessary? I was looking at picture of beautiful old houses on facebook and one house I counted 4 dining tables + island with bar stools. Now, this was a huge house, but still. Excessive.
My grandmother’s townhouse had a kitchen off from the garage and it had a wall between it and the dining room. The wall had a window slot that you could pass dishes through or set things on. The dining room and living room were open floor plan but separated by stairs down. All in all yhe kitchen was private with its own kitchen nook table but accessible to the dining room. Even after so many years it stays as one of my ideal floor plans.
Another drawback is that the open floor plan is very noisy. Watching TV and running water, maybe the exhaust fan is also on? That’s too much background noise for me. An open L shape seems to work well.
I can’t go out often so having people over is a lifeline. It can be the only way I have social interaction. My friends don’t care if my kitchen shows that I just made them food. They like eating it. If I know a dirty kitchen will make me nuts, I serve make-ahead things like stew, or we do pot-luck, or order in. Whatever makes it work.
Just life posts are appreciated as you recover from the latest life stresses and work on HL5. You mentioned Kid1 bought a house. I hope everything went well with that.
Agreed. I never could understand the popularity of the open plan kitchen – or really open plan rooms in general. I need wall space for my bookshelves….. and I’m a hermit, I don’t entertain anyone (at least not intentionally).
Dayle Benningfield says
Which leads to the “mullet” of the kitchen world. The open kitchen with the privacy lip so the dirty dishes are less noticeable from the living area.
Candy Daniels says
Lol! No argument here! I’m with you 100%… to hell with that craziness!
And cats. Do not forget the cats. Most of the time I do want to cook in peace without the cats distracting me or invading my work area. (If I only close the door, Ronnie will open it anyway… just because she can. I am glad she has not yet learned to pick locks. 😉 )
So, no fight here; complete agreement.
Oh, housing prices have skyrocketed in Germany during the last few years. I suspect building companies propose open floor plans to maximize their profit – less interior walls to be built equals more money for them.
If that is your kitchen it is lovely. I have a ships galley and it is awful…but because my kitchen is so small I have learned to clean as I go with loading dish washer and stuff so that helps with everything sitting out….And I love all of your books re reading all the Hidden Legacy before I read the new one… Rest have peace and enjoy your readers will wait until you get there and be happy for it.
Nathalie P says
I can’t fight with any you’ve said! I completely agree with it all and thought I was the problem ???? Glad to know I’m not alone in this ????
My dining room is separate, so I can close the door and enjoy dinner with guests when needed. Mostly, though, the people who are going to eat with us are our kids and grandkids, and having them in the kitchen/living room makes me happy. I get lots of help preparing and my husband does the dishes later. Our open plan really works for us.
“Fight me” in the comments… ROFL – seriously though, making it through cooking dinner is a feat in itself, let alone cleaning up.
But these people who entertain? They don’t have children. Or full time careers. No $&@ing way.
Kristyn Chenault says
I totally agree. I have three kids. Nothing in my house is ever clean. We are a military family so we won’t buy a house until my husband retires, but when we do I want a formal living and dining room that’s separated from the rest of the house with walls. Haha. I want everyone to imagine our house is so clean and neat and never make their way to the mess.
Wow , I’m 1-st first time. I happen to agree with what you said.
We have an open plan living area and love it….. it cuts cleaning time as there are no corners for dust to accumulate in, no extra skirting boards to clean, no extra walls to host extra furniture that needs dusting…
Also, I don’t care who sees the dirty dishes – I just cooked dinner, of course there is a mess. If you liked what I cooked for you, you can help wash up (just like our parents friends used to… because they weren’t entitled @-holes), or at the very least you can bring enough wine that no one cares about the dishes
To date, no one has been stupid enough to criticize my knife skills whilst I’m holding said knife. I’ll let you know the results (and associated charges) if ever it happens.
Wow, first comment: 🙂
I agree that an open floor plan showcases mess. We are planning a house and are struggling with this right now. How do we hide our – and our 6 children’s mess – while still retaining an open feeling in the house? I’m not sure it is possible. Children range from 1.5-11.5.
However, people do entertain. 🙂 As observant Jews, we celebrate Shabbat weekly, with 3 large meals. Kind of like Thanksgiving. Lots of people have guests over for the Shabbat meals. The hardest part is not the cooking; it is balancing guests and children fighting. I’m looking forward to when they grow up a little.
“Who are these people who entertain?”
This! I have people over rarely, although it does happen (I have the big screen TV out of my friend group, so guess who’s apartment gets volunteered for marathons), and when I do, it’s my excuse to scrub my whole place extra clean. That’s also why I don’t mind open-floor plans so much, because the only person seeing any kind of mess in the kitchen is my roommate, and she’s the cooker/baker of the two of us. I’m more of a quick-meal sort of gal.
Mireille Hay says
Totally agree open concept living is the pits. I’m not a gourmet chef, I burn lots of food. My entire house smells of burnt cooking! Oh and the mess!!! Not hiding it behind closed doors ????
I have a wall separating the kitchen from the dining/living room and it helps. The kitchen also overlooks the den. LOTS of light with the skylight. I wish I had a door sometimes so I can keep the cats out when cooking. One can be a real pest. I used to entertain but it is so exhausting. I am with you.
Sorry, can’t fight you. We searched forever until we found a house where the kitchen is separate from the dining and living area. Oh the bliss to be able to close a door on the kitchen mess.
Yes, we do entertain sometimes. And we go in for multicourse dinners. But in my opinion the time you spend with your guests is directly related to the preparation time before cooking – what the French call mise-en-place – and the planning of a menu, not the architecture of your house.
Ok, I’m not 1-st, Ilene rets illol. Just previous posts did not show in my screen until later
Ha! My number one pet peeve for homes being listed. “Great for entertaining.” Is this the 1950’s? Who is doing all of this entertaining? Not my neighbors – no one is rolling up at their houses outside birthdays and holidays. Not me. Not my friends. Can we just put that piece of pretend away? For good. Forever.
Not fighting. I agree with you 100%.
We are trying out living in my dad’s house, built pre-open plan. The kitchen is large enough for 3-4 people to work comfortably and another 2-3 to sit and kibbutz.
We do much more entertaining there than we have ever done before. I think it’s partially because we can walk into the “formal” living or dining room and just socialize, or we can have movie night, or we can all hang and cook together. That last has NEVER happened, but we have served the delicious pizza delivery that way.
???????????????? I like the open floor plan but our house is really relaxed and so are the few friends we had when we lived on Okinawa. If we are over at each others houses we help cut, stir and wash dishes. Or roped our teens and preteens into clean up after we cooked. If we wanted fancy we group together and get a caterer or went out. Gosh now Im3 teary eyed because last year PCS split us up. I’m in NC, one is in PA the other is in WV. We met up this summer at my house and same. We cooked, husbands corralled the little ones teens cleaned.
Best way to entertain is pot luck you provide space, plates and cutlery. Everyone else brings favorite dish. No cooking in front of them or cleaning up. All have something they will or can eat.
I Have lived with both…… I grew up in a 1950s split level home that had the kitchen as far away from the den as possible. Over time I realized how isolated my mom was in the kitchen. As an adult child, I tried to make sure we chatted around the kitchen table rather than go downstairs to the wonderful comfy den.
Fast forward several decades… my husband and I renovated our river cottage into our retirement home. Now the kitchen adjoins both the living area and the dining room. However I raised the bar so you can’t see my work counter mess from the living room. Also There is only one seat at the dining room table that can clearly see the work countertops … that one is always mine. It took me forever to figure it out!
15 years later we’re still happy with it. It’s not perfect (renovations always have trade-offs) but I am rarely left out of a conversation due to being in the kitchen.
We’re preparing for Dorian to visit us in Eastern NC . Your books are my hurricane escape. I make sure my Kindle is fully charged and I read of magic while Mother Nature howls.
“No, no, please enlighten me with your observation on the complex artistry of me cutting up a tomato.” People who watch food and cooking shows expound far too much on food and the preparation thereof. Yes, let’s all be food critics instead of thanking the friend who cooked and making yummy sounds.
I’ve wondered if there are any legitimate non-pretentious usages of “umami” and how many times it can be used. It is “foodie signaling” and often lazy descriptor lacking in actual detail. Well that and a bottle of msg is cheap and easy.
Sara s says
I had never thought of that part of the open floor plan. I like the kitchen and eat in kitchen and living room combo with the “nice” dining room separate for more formal holidays. I’m my imaginary dream house my kitchen is so clean all the time, probably due to my imaginary maid
Tiger Lily says
I have fixed that problem by never inviting anyone to my home. I only meet at neutral sites. My house is my sanctum sanctorum and usually only includes me and my dogs.
No fights here. Two years ago we moved from a house where the kitchen, dinette, and family room were all one long room into a house where the kitchen is loosely connected to the dining room by a four-foot opening. Love this particular change and being able to hear myself think while I’m cooking. As for entertaining, who has time to clean that much??? Meh. Only at the holidaze.
Your home is lovely, btw.
I think in 2019 I have had other people in my apartment 3 times. Nope, I am not an entertainer. I do love to cook but I have to keep windows open when I do as the hood vent doesn’t work and my landlord is lazy. I bake a lot and give some of it away so that counts as entertaining – right?
My entire kitchen is less then 50 sq ft so I generally clean as I go, I don’t have a dishwasher so I have no place to hide anything.
Open floor plans, lots of hype, not so much on practicality.
I miss my parent’s country kitchen, 3 doors: one to the dining/ living room L, one to the bedroom hallway, and one to the outdoors and basement stairs. No island, just 2 counters and a large table. The doors were rarely all closed, unless something burned or was particularly odiferous, or my sisters were singing “Whispering Hope” (which once had a neighbor running over to see who was being beaten. I mean, our house was in the middle of 3 acres…)
Food could be served to the dining room table, and the kitchen closed off. Or the smaller children would eat in the kitchen, and the adults could visit without interruption. Or Dad could watch the news on tv in the living room while we girls helped Mom with cooking, canning, or just watched her knead a batch of raisin bread… And so on.
Put me in the Closed Floor Plan column.
Sapphire Flames was AMAZING.
Eh, the few times I entertain, people always pile into the kitchen anyway unless I kick them out. Having an open concept and island would at least give me a nice barrier to keep them out from underfoot while letting them be nearby. I’m also one of those people who is only happy when is the kitchen completely clean, so I tend to clean as I work as much as possible. But I don’t cook elaborate, and that probably makes a difference.
Personally, I’m all for open concept and high ceilings (saw someone recently ranting that “high ceilings are a waste of space”). My current house is ridiculously large, but because it was built in the 70’s everything is closed off from everything else, and the rooms with standard height ceilings make me claustrophobic.
But everyone is different, which is good, because how boring would the world be if we all had the same taste in everything?
Open Plan? Entertaining? Catering!
I feel you. 100 %. No open floor plan here.
My issue with open floor plans is that I can’t sneak the last cookie or chocolate bar without everyone else in the house knowing. I want to stuff my face in peace.
No fight. I agree for the most part. And I’ve no time for entertaining. I did once upon a time, but we all lived in a very small town and it took maybe 10 min max to get from one place to the next. And it was still only on a weekend. Now everyone I know has to drive a minimum of 30 min to get to my house, generally more like an hour. It’s just not worth it. Dinner with friends is generally at a restaurant where no one has to do the dang dishes. And we can go home and crash and burn in peace. I do love your kitchen tho, mine is too tiny for words, let alone working in
Angela Do says
My husband is definitely in the “let’s entertain” category. I’m in the “do you know how much cleaning I have to do in order to entertain” category. We try to split the difference.
My husband and I have young children (6 of them) so I realize that we’re in a particular stage of life where we don’t really get to have a life. But we’re both pretty introverted so “entertaining”? Not really our jam. But my whole house is a constant mess so I’ve just come to terms with it. Maybe one day it’ll be clean and we’ll be wonderful hosts. HA but probably not
Cherylanne Farley says
Thank you (pounds table)! Convinced it’s the samebfools who want open floor plan offices!! No please share with ALL OF US forced around you how your marriage is breaking up because hubs gave you an STD. Aargh. Ps miserable 104 106 degrees 22% humidity for last 2 weeks. Book was life savor…..
The only folks who like open office floor plans are the CEO, CFO etc. They save the company money. In NYC floor space costs a bunch so it is cheaper to have one long table with 6 people on each side with one small file drawer each. My old company moved into a new, huge space then after a merger we had no more space. People no longer had an assigned desk. You had to sign in to whatever was available when you came in. So much for teams working together. My father would call me on the phone and would ask me personal questions. I would tell him to call me at home that night. He would get angry that I wouldn’t answer him. No matter how many times I explained it he never understood that around 30 people could hear whatever I said.
Hi! I am one of 6 sibs and my parents would entertain once the youngest of us was out of the high chair. We were slave labor. We learned to cook, clean and talk politely with adults. Those adults always looked a bit shell shocked but hey, we had fun. And we were rewarded later. But having said that, my own son could never have done all the things we did. He just wasn’t built that way. So you do you, and let your kids do the same.
Hahahahahaha, hilarious! I saw this same topic on a facebook page and I so agree. Can we have some privacy? Also, I get very hot when cooking… Why the heck would I want anyone to see me melting in the kitchen? I mean, they’ve never heard the saying, “Never let them see you sweat”? (yeah, yeah, TMI, I know)
As for HGTV, I’ve wondered the same thing. “It’s great for entertaining… Let’s tear down this wall” Ugh. I’m in NYC, living in a prewar apartment (decent size by NYC standards), so I am so glad that my kitchen is separated from my living room.
Anna Yuzefov says
We are a pair of empty nesters – my two step-daughters are both in mid 20’s and long moved out – and we really DO love to entertain.
I don’t cook. But I clean and prep like no-one’s business. My husband does ALL the cooking.
When we bought our new house, we remodeled and re-built so that easily half the upstairs is KITCHEN. We have a 9′ long island in the middle and a small – seats 6 – dining room table. Most of our parties become ‘kitchen parties’ and we love it. My husband can cook without feeling alienated from our guests, and I can do the same while cleaning.
Caveat? We have ‘sit-down’ parties maybe 2/year? And our lifestyle is VERY casual.
Also? LOVE LOVE LOVE the new book. I’ll be honest the covers for the HL series *really* put me off, but I LOVE everything else you’ve written, so… I took a chance and MAN am I glad.
Thank you again for being FABULOUS.
Amanda P says
Totally agree with you!
No fighting from me. I find looking after my own family tiring enough to entertain others as well. Week nights in bed by 10pm as I set off for work at 7am. Weekends
are to catch up with house work/chores. I have to prepare for anything else happening. Lol! But I think the kitchen-Diner looks lovely ????
I have hated the totally open floor plan thing since it first started! I just thought of how incredibly loud it would be with kids able to run around the entire downstairs! Then with adult voices over the top of the kids telling them to stop and it just goes on from there. Add in cathedral ceilings and forget about having any kind of conversation at normal volume.
*sigh* So nice to not be alone in rejection of the “modern” home 🙂
Haha – recently bought a home to house my dogs and cat…trying to rent with menagerie is a nightmare.
And the agent goes to me,
you’re going to renovate right? Make the lounge, dining and kitchen open plan and I just laughed at him and told him no!
I cook and like a room that I can close off because of smells etc. and I agree with everyone above about the mess of cooking.
Also the nightmare of heating/cooling such enormous spaces.
I grew up in a large queen Ann style wood frame house. The kitchen was a large eat in kitchen with space for a table to seat 8 comfortably. It was closed off from the rest of the house and it worked perfectly well that way. My parents entertained in a casual way and it worked great. The dining room was serene and beautiful and the kitchen wasn’t spreading smells and grease all over the house. And this way close family and friends would help out in the kitchen, but those made uncomfortable by that could be entertained by other family members in the living room.
Cheryl M says
Amen, I HATE sitting in my living room and seeing dirty dishes. Our breakfast bar is raised high enough that it provides a bit of a barrier to the mess in the kitchen. I’m pretty good at the “clean as you go”, but there is still a mess, no matter what. Also, can we please get rid of the little “family business” areas with cubbies for bills, etc? They just get overrun with paper and are just a cluttered mess.
Janet Snyder says
Once a year I have a party the first year in my rental with open floor plan I threw sheet pans in my garage because I wasn’t going to have time to wash them and didn’t want them sitting out during the party. I now have bought a townhouse still with open floor plan but it was I could find. I would rather a door so that the mess isn’t seen as well.
AGREED. We just moved from a home with the open kitchen and living room. NEVER AGAIN….and yes our home will never be nice and clean all day every day because when the kids move out then come the grandkids and let me just tell you a 4 year old can mess up a house in less than 2 seconds. By then you think it is just fine though because he is the little prince…..lol.
I don’t like the noise in open floor plans. There is no such thing as private conversations unless you are whispering. Do I really want to hear your show on Netflix in the tv space when I’m reading a book on the lounge space?
I like a mix of open and closed rooms.
That’s a great point! I like listening to music while in kitchen, but other family members are watching TV so the noise overlaps and I end up giving up in exasperation
Tasha A says
Great book thank you!!
We are actually people who love the open floor plan. We have young kids and usually about once a week friends come over to hang out since going to a bar after work isn’t an option. We love have small groups over to visit and the open floor plan allows us to keep an eye on the little ones while we hang out and eat.
I have also found that no matter what what we do everyone hangs out in the kitchen!!! Even if we are no longer cooking and the food is served if we have more than 2 people over and it’s not a sit down dinner everyone is in the kitchen. In our previous place we had an enclosed kitchen and even then people never left the kitchen and got completely in the way! ????
Open floor plan is totally worth it for us but I totally get that it can be a pain in the butt!
“Kids tend to be very distracting. The last thing I want is to be distracted while I am trying to stir-fry something at instant blister temperatures so it’s neither too under-cooked nor too mushy.”
Yes. Oh, so much yes. I loathe open floor plans. We are currently renting a house where the kitchen attaches to the family room and the dining room (really, I consider it a hallway). One of the everyday rules is “upstairs while Mom cooks”; if this task is not accomplished, the child may not watch TV or play video games later.
I believe the main point of the open kitchen is actually to camouflage how small the various merged rooms are. You can have a smaller kitchen and family room if they are attached to each other than you can if they’re separate rooms.
Actually, the thing I always enjoyed the most when I watched home remodeling shows where they redid the kitchen and raved about the open floor plan, entertaining, and true chef’s kitchen was how they then invariably raved about the side-by-side refrigerator and how the freezer was wide enough to accommodate lots of frozen pizzas easily.
Obviously their opinions on kitchens are to be relied upon.
Also, I should note that my dog can easily reach anything sitting on the countertop. I cannot express how much I miss being able to shut the kitchen doors. The sheer number of broken dishes I have had to replace in the past couple of years… the entire baking sheet of meatballs I lost because she pulled them onto the floor when I left the kitchen for a minute to use the bathroom…
Rita Webb says
Our dog isn’t allowed in the kitchen. Ever. He knows that his paws aren’t allowed to leave the carpeted area of the living room. Even though we have an open floor plan, he still stays on his side.
My home was built in 1967 (we still use the original brown double wall oven – GE made real winners back then – because it won’t die and my husband doesn’t want to replace a “perfectly functional” – perfectly ugly – oven) and the kitchen is still partitioned off from the rest of the house with a swinging door between the kitchen and formal dining room. It’s also separated from the family room and has a pass through window next to the door to the family room and a large breakfast nook.
As much as I like the idea of a large open concept – I like having a place to hide from family during huge events – “Oh, must go check on the pies. No, you stay here. Stay here!! I mean , don’t trouble yourself.” The breakfast nook gives enough room for someone to keep me company but not so much that they are all in my face as I’m putting the final touch on a massive Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Really enjoyed the recent releases and hope you are able to catch your breath before the next big sprint. Thanks for all you do for us. You are much appreciated.
Oh my God, I agree 100% about open floor plans with kitchen!
It’s such a popular concept in nearly all home-renovation shows I watch, and every time it astounds me how no one there seems to realise how dirty a kitchen can be; no matter how much bigger a floor would’ve felt like, it’s just not worth putting a kitchen on full display for all the guests to see the mess. I wouldn’t like to have a kitchen like that (I’d be reluctant to do anything in it, especially if it were sth complex – I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking how I would have to clean everything right away, otherwise it would weigh on me that there’s a mess waiting for me, and I’d probably just end up making the least messy meal I could…).
Though I’m not a fan of complete separation either, I much rather have a half-wall high enough that people can see me but not what I’m doing exactly or how messy I can be 🙂
Take care 🙂
OMG you are so funny, hahaha. I think the same thing when I hear that. We have an open floor plan BUT the kitchen is in the small part of an L . So not to obvious when there is people ….and we don’t really entertain, just my adult kids and their s.o.
OMG I too want to know who are these people who are always entertaining. I’m lucky if I have enough energy after errands/chores/etc to get up off the couch once I set down. 🙂
I can argue on both sides of the debate. In my brother’s house, which had an open floorplan (well, kitchen to living room), another brother would be in cooking but could see the TV in the living room and we could all be talking while that brother prepped food. So it was good for that aspect. And now that I think of it, our house in my teenage years was the same way.
On the other hand, you couldn’t actually watch TV unless it was sports because trying to follow a drama or comedy show while conversation is flying all around and you hear the meat cleaver whacking on the cutting board is impossible. You end up raising the volume really high which annoys the half of the people that aren’t watching the show.
So I would be for open floor plan for those situations, but still have another room separate that had its own TV for people that didn’t want to converse with the people in the kitchen/living room.
This is me….
Entertaining is for people who actually like other people.
I have a hard time with that most days….
Evelyn Duerr Ryan says
I am in the process of tearing down the plaster and lathe wall between the kitchen and living room but for a different reason. Our house is old and not easy to get around. Even tho the kitchen is large it is horribly set up. And with my husband in a wheel chair he won’t be able to get out of the living room if I don’t!!! As for the animals, they are always underfoot anyway, so nothing there will change.
Three years ago, we moved house for our retirement to an open plan bungalow. No kids at home so you’d think it would work, right? I’ve had to search for a “quiet” kettle as we couldn’t hear the TV over the sound of the old one boiling and, while we have no kids at home, we have grandchildren over fairly regularly and they are too young to understand the concept of stay out of the kitchen. Not to mention dogs underfoot are a major trip hazard while cooking. In our old house we had a doorway to the kitchen (no actual door) and a baby gate to keep babies out and dogs in.
I agree with not cooking from the start while having a bunch of guests—totally crazy-making. However, after almost 30 years of marriage and four houses with wildly different layouts, we learned that no matter what we do, everyone congregates in the kitchen anyway, so we might as well plan with that in mind. Our solution has been to pre-prep as much as possible and to try to have some simple and harmless task like setting the table or tossing the salad for that friend who just isn’t happy unless they’re helping. Not a perfect fix but it transfers some of the stress to the time period before everyone arrives so we can scream at each other if we need to blow off steam!
Tiffany Crystal says
lmao, the only thing I’m fighting you over is getting that friggen song stuck in my head. “Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now again~”….ugh. (Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing more about your everyday life, but I’m weird like that.)
I’m so used to having an open or semi-open kitchen that I just can’t imagine a house or an apartament with different setting 😮 Sure it’s messy and my mother’s nagging that it’s messy (even if it’s not, but that’s her superpower, she can see kitche mess from across the garden and probably from across the galaxy) is irritating, but overall it’s natural in my mind (also no little kids running around just not very observant grandparents).
Right now our kitchen is semi-open, since it’s between two walls and you can walk through it. We are not really happy with it since it’s smaller than our las one, but on the other hand the arrangement helps hide some of the less-than-pristine moments of food processing.
It all goes down to what one likes and is comfortable having, is it not? 🙂
PS. Also the book was lovely. I’m thinking of re-reading it at least twice. Probably more.
Thank you once again for a AMAZING story! I enjoyed every second and when it ends, I’m always satisfied, but hungry for more. The BDH thank you for your service and appreciate all the hard work you put into making us happy.
The Husband Creature and I are part of a group of people, mostly college people, who get together weekly to theoretically play games but mostly to ensure that we have proper socialization to stay sane in our nerdy geeky lives. The location of Game Night changes from week to week, emails are sent out on the list serve to claim/announce who is hosting that week ect. It is has been held on Thursdays for the last 8+ years — it was Tuesdays before that.
Before we bought our house last year, we never had the space to host and we would cater at other people’s houses so we weren’t freeloading on the group. Now that we have a house, we try to host about once a month — mostly as motivation to clean up. Usually the weekend after our hosting involves having other people over to enjoy the clean space too — but not always
Our friends aren’t too overly picky, as long as the house is safe for their kids to run around. We’re constantly in one renovation project or another, so if they see the kitchen a mess while we’re hosting because we just made dinner for them, that’s their problem, not ours….. but if our family comes over, we’re much more conscious of the mess.
We host this Thursday… and then again at the end of October… perhaps in between too but who knows… we’re planning to buy some cabinets and do some landscaping soon 🙂
You know what else kitchens produce? Smells. Yes, lots of yummy, yummy smells when things are going well, but I certainly don’t want parfum du burnt toast wafting through (and lingering in) my lounge/dining areas courtesy of my hubby’s attempts to be helpful!
Yesss! I lived in a house with open floor plan – entrance hall, living room and kitchen. ALL the jackets and clothes on the pegs in the entrance would always smell like food. I had to get rid of the wonderful fluffy couch in 8 months for the same reason. No, thank you!
One of my best friends has this type of open floor plan, although it’s more of a U shape so she can get a little separation from the kitchen and the pre-dinner socializing area. She seems to like it, although now that I think about it, we do often take our food out to the lanai so the kitchen dishes are not within view. Rather than the open kitchen part of the post, I’m going to comment on the entertain at home post. Simply no for me. At his good friend loves to entertain for her friends, her husband’s friends, joint friends, every holiday you can name. I don’t. My home is my nest. It is Clean and tidy and well appointed, and it’s also where I go to recharge. I can count on the fingers of one hand people other than immediate family who come over to socialize each year. I do entertain; I just take people out to dinner, lunch, movies, happy hours. Let my home be my place of rest.
Liz S says
So true. However, open concept or not, my friends and family still always hang out in the kitchen whenever we get together. Fortunately, they don’t care about the mess. Get some rest!
I prefer eating in the kitchen. Got enough room for six to eat comfortably. But I’ve also got an open floor plan and I have to say, while it sounds great on paper, it’s not actually that great for my family. People like to do different things in the evening. I’m single now but if I wasn’t, sometimes I’d want to cuddle in front of a movie and sometimes my movie tastes aren’t going to be his. Or hers. If my kids are home, we schedule fam movie nights. Otherwise, they’ll go out or hang in their rooms or the kitchen. I’ll be reading or watching something with headphones that have noise dampeners. Meantime, with all the dogs, the dust bunnies roll gleefully everywhere and not hung up in rooms where it’s easier to catch them. Plus cooking smells go all over. Next time, I’m going for some sort of separation.
And lets not forget those impressive, soaring, dramatic two story ceilings…. Absolutely beautiful until you have children….. THE NOISE!!!…. Volume #11….. Not to mention that they’re never the correct temperature….. Put them together with an open floorplan and you might as well be living in a warehouse (with no cool partitions, rooms, etc…. Like a certain family).
I solve this dilemma by having both my standard seat at the dining table and our sofa with my back facing the kitchen. Then I can both chat whilst cooking and ignore the mess after ????
Doc Jules says
Who constantly entertains – military officers wives! At least once a week, I have to feed a bunch of people who work with, work for, are visiting my husband and his unit. Often (whilst I am doing my own job – which is of absolutely no importance to anyone…. – except the poor bugger I’m operating on), I get a message – you don’t mind doing dinner for 14 this evening honey? ????????????????????????????????????
Rebecca Baillie says
I used to work with a group of spouses in this situation. One day a discussion started on how quickly could a dinner party be put together. This led to ‘Dinner for 12 in one hour’ ongoing discussion and challenge. Creative use of partially prepped, premade items, and transfers to nice serving dishes was the trick. This became so popular, my family now divides clean up as the predinner ‘Taking the trash out’ and post-dinner dishes. Even my mother takes part and did a ‘Thanksgiving in 90 minutes’.
This is something I’d love to know more about! Seriously, what’s your menu?
Too bad you can’t wear the surgical scrubs home! That would be awesome, and cure his admin of not checking YOUR schedule first. Or pick up carry out – burgers or fried chicken.
Gracie O'Neil says
I love to cook. I love to clean. (Sue me.) But not under pressure. Which means I hate to entertain. “Entertain” means, to me, being required to cater to needs of people I don’t know enough to care about—all while being a perfect hostess, chef, conversationalist, blah blah blah.
Not going to happen. REALLY not going to happen if you don’t like cats, dogs, stuff on shelves, small spaces, computers on dining tables, soup, coffee, chocolate chip cookies, deep conversations about sex, religion, politics, and how to get away with murder (often related to the previous three topics).
As an aside, I LOVE that cleaver. I now have cleaver envy.
Rest. Sleep. Eat healthy food. Be normal for a while. Thanks for making our lives so much fun. HUG!
Life is too short and complex to entertain people. Life is for loving your family and friends and building relationships with people who don’t judge you on the state of your kitchen, but love you for the kindness in your heart.
I don’t entertain either, so there is no one to see my cooking messes. However, I do appreciate being able to see my minions in the family room while I’m getting other stuff done. Having said that I don’t have a truly open floor plan so best of both worlds, I guess?
A year ago, our fridge died and while my husband and I were trying to decide what to do with our outdated and tiny kitchen that couldn’t fit a new fridge in the size we needed, my uncle, a retired contractor, came by. We were discussing the idea of moving the wall that separated our kitchen and living room when he asked, “Why are you keeping the wall? Do you need it?” I made the whole dishes/mess argument you just made, almost word for word. Then I realized that I truly didn’t care if people saw my mess. My house is either clean or it isn’t–mostly it isn’t. People’s opinions of my lack of housekeeping skills don’t matter to me. If they’re offended by my mess, they can stay home, which is less work for me anyway. ???? We happily tore down the wall, put in an island, dragged the rest of the kitchen into the 21st century, and have been blissfully enjoying the extra space.
Bravo! If they are truly your friends, they came to see YOU, not the house. What family doesn’t generate a bit of clutter? Your space needs to fit your needs. I like the high bars I have seen in some homes which can obscure some of the “mess” without cutting off those working in the kitchen area from the rest of the group.
Do you know the other problem with open floor plans (besides poor temperature control, poor volume control, and no escape from your mess)? It is absolutely impossible for potty training puppies. You cannot control their access to space because the commercial pet doors are never big enough to span the “doors” between the rooms, and there are always just enough sneaky nooks for hidden peeing.
We remodeled our house to open plan to have a long high kitchen bench and a fixed dining table. This all looks out to the lounge and pool area. It’s brilliant and I love it . For quiet time we have another small lounge As for entertaining, that’s a yeah, nah!!
Christy Owens says
I agree 100% about those who entertain. Who has the time? Although we recently moved closer to family, so I do have my parents and brother/brother’s family over for dinner sometimes. Only if the weather is nice enough so everyone can eat outside in the yard. 🙂
Being the oldest of six, there were many times growing up when I wish we had had open living spaces. Responsibility for my younger siblings while starting dinner was tantamount to disaster as things got “quiet” in the other room—-and investigating meant delays in dinner to explain to my parents / possible injury to my siblings if I did not go and check it out….Open areas where I could see what was going on would have been nice. As an adult, having that open area meant I could supervise homework as I was cooking, regulate what was being watched on television, and stop regular mayhem with a look (at times). Does it get loud? What family doesn’t? Now they are all grown and gone….and my only distraction is the too loud television being watched by my hard of hearing spouse. Does it bother me? NOT when I am reading a good book, curled up at his side—all distractions become mute when I am engrossed in a superior book like those written by House Andrews! Of course, grading the essays of a student. . .
I know! Who the hell is always entertaining? My mom and I are always making fun of the those people “who love to entertain”. I agree with you about an open floor plan: NO WAY JOSE!
My favorite kitchen I ever saw was near Avignon France. Amazing light filled work space with high end appliances, a huge farm sink and a large kitchen table and an alcove for a sofa and two comfy chairs with a fireplace. The dining room was closed off from the kitchen with ten foot pocket doors and there were two sets of french doors leading out from the DR to a gorgeous pool, patio and garden. It’s been ten years and I still think about that house. We stayed a month and I cried when we left to go home.
My place in SoCal has a nice “cottage kitchen” that is easy for me to cook in by myself which I like, but it’s not good for hanging out. There is a lot of yelling Mom! from my kids from other rooms but I don’t mind. Last year we remodeled the house and one thing we did was put in accordion glass doors across the back of the house and barn doors between our dining room and living room which I love love love. The kitchen is still separate so no cooking smells pollute the house. You really can’t do much with a three bedroom two bath California Bungalow, but we managed to add a mud/laundry space with a powder room so no more doing laundry in the garage. We extended the garage (we have one of those stupidly long driveways that lead to a detached garage) and put in a den for the kids with a full bath which is great because teenagers are loud and crazy. We could have/should have moved into a bigger house, but location is everything and we live in a great neighborhood so my husband and I decided to stay put. I do love those House Hunter shows. I’ve been thinking about all those people I watched on Bahama Life that have lost everything in the Abacos. It’s horrible…..
The Cleaver might be a bad idea if you are trying to step back from violence……..
Carysa Locke says
I can’t fight you because I agree with all of that. Every word. Especially the Netflix part. I love cooking and baking, actually, especially for other people. But it’s exhausting. Especially when you have animals and part of “entertaining” is a spotless house.
There are no spotless houses with animals. So then I have to spent time running a vacuum through the house, wiping down counters, dusting, etc., AND prep and cook dinner. And then cleaning up the kitchen. Exhausting.
I mostly confine these events to Christmas and other holidays for this reason, and I lived with an open kitchen floor plan once. I HATED it. Hate is not too strong a word.
Angel Mercury says
I think if you have the space to section off the kitchen and still get enough room and light in each room then open doesn’t seem so nessacary. A lot of the houses I see in these photos or on those shows are much larger than what we have though.
We have open plan with in an L shape with the kitchen in the small portion. The house is very old and was damaged in a fire leading to an open plan living area and I have to say it is much nicer for it. The kitchen was pretty small, no room for a nook or anything and it would have been rather dark. With the open plan we can see out the lounge and get a lot of light from our windows overlooking the bay.
When we entertain, which is maybe once a month or so outside game nights which are laid back and usualy involve pizza or potluck style, we try to clean as we go. My partner and I will both be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning while our friends stand on the other side of the bar/counter with their wine chatting us up. Dishes straight into the dishwasher.
My friends have a nice compromise of a window from the kitchen into the dining so they can still see guests while fussing about, but their kitchen is even smaller than ours.
I also HATE the open concept kitchen. You pretty much summed up my reasons. Great minds think alike, yes?
Yeah, how’d that get started? We are renting a house an agent would call charming. It’s teeny. I walked into the living room and there was a big hole in the wall right next to, but not even with, the door leading to the kitchen. They called it a pass-through. I said, “It’s a hole. In the wall.” And the kitchen was teeny weenie and there was no storage. We put the wall back up. On the living room side it’s a wall. On the kitchen side it’s shelving. I’ve got all my glasses there. Much better. Much much better.
Not to mention that “open concept” usually involves getting rid of an entire wall of cabinets. Sure there is storage in an island, but it is hard to get things out of an island. In any case, you want enough upper cabinets for dishes, glasses and things you use a lot so you don’t have to bend over under a counter all the time.
That being said, our family room is separated from our kitchen by a step down and a half wall and that works well. We still have a dining room and living room that are clean (or would be if I weren’t living in them right now due to an Achilles’ tendon injury that has kept me from going up stairs regularly for a millennium).
Becky Kissel says
I had open concept…give me walls. And what’s with the need for huge master bedrooms
What are people doing in there? Bid enough for a king bed, nightstands, a dresser, but no, they want a bowling alley or something.
Rita Webb says
One problem with open floor plans is the NOISE!!! The people watching TV can’t hear it because the talking / cooking / washing dishes going on in the kitchen. People in the kitchen can’t have conversation over hors d’oeuvres laid out on the counter because of the TV / people in the living / sitting area.
Second problem: the temptation to watch TV while eating instead of meaningful family interaction.
Hmmm…I have to disagree! We have a very open plan with a 20 foot counter that has stools. It is open, airy,and has wonderful visibility. We love it. The secret is prep ahead of time and cleaning as I cook. I have no problems with the open space and HATE filling closed in. I also like to see and talk to our guests while I cook. When I had the separate kitchen everyone walked into the kitchen to visit anyhow. It also made the it much tighter to cook. I basically had to work around everyone. If I shooed them out they would drift back after a short time.
My late husband and I seldom entertained once the kids came along. It was a bit of a relief – two introverts don’t think “Let’s have a party!” very often.
The best entertaining set up I ever saw was our second house. The family who sold it to us did entertain a lot and had remodeled to suit that. (They also LOVED yellow wall paper and gold carpet – everywhere!) He was a realtor and entertained for his business, I think.
The living areas surrounded the kitchen. Formal living room w/ bar, dining room, family room and a hall w/ the coat closet, the pantry, and the powder room wrapped it completely. There was a pocket door at each end of the kitchen (hall and dining room) and a large pass through on the other two walls. (The one to the LR was actually to the back of the bar.)
You could keep the dog out of the kitchen – or in it, which we did before we put the cat door to the back yard in. Keeping the cats in or out of anything was not in the cards…
OBTW – Tall ceilings do help in very hot climates. Before A/C, that was all there was. I have always loved the old Victorian houses. The current house has a 12 foot ceiling and ceiling fans, even though it’s new.
Patricia Schlorke says
My apartment has 3 levels: the first (ground floor) is where my washer/dryer, front door, and garage are located; the second is an open plan with my living room, powder room, kitchen, and dining room are located. The only walls are for the powder room. My kitchen is in a corner area so you can’t see the dirty dishes. I wanted an open dining room because my dining table can seat 10 if I put in both leaves. And third level has my two bedrooms with two full bathrooms. The place was built in the 1990s.
I like the plan since it’s easy for me to clean. I also have a built in exercise with going up and down either one or two flights of stairs (depending if I’m doing wash).
I can see the problem if the plan was truly open like the one in the picture. It’s really hard to keep children out of the kitchen (my mom did this with even a kitchen .with walls). You would have to be extremely careful not to dump hot water or anything hot on someone if they came behind you while you’re hands were full.
Roseanne Lobbezoo says
Having moved into a small 2 bedroom condo since my retirement means I’m no longer obligated to entertain the whole family for every holiday. I do not get to escape the cooking however. That still happens. I just have to have people help me cart it to whoever’s house is the designee of the moment. Since I always loved the cooking and hated the cleanup, I am now a very happy grandma.
The smell! I can’t have my couch fabric or curtains smelling like the food on my kitchen. The oil from the heavy cooking will somehow land everywhere. It’s a nightmare.
That said, I live in a household of 16people. I “entertain” almost every day.
Okay…so I am with you all the way on cleaning as you go and entertaining. I get really stressed with anything beyond a ‘hey, i got some whatever on the stove, do you want a bowl?’ kind of entertaining. However, my folks entertain often. They do as much cooking and prep beforehand….so the dishes and such can be done ahead of time. (wherever possible)
Your tomato comment brought my dearly departed great aunt to mind. She was a wonderful cook. As she grew older, I often volunteered to do whatever might help make preparations easier. (I think I tried when I was younger, too, but she would have none of it.) I have a very clear recollection of her observing me chopping onions and she said “no, that’s not right,” and grabbing it away from me. Apparently, she was totally OCD about every piece of diced onion being EXACTLY the same size as every other piece of diced onion. She really could not abide it any other way. Having other people with similar perspectives observing people with less stringent dicing rules can be very stressful. An idea to maybe span the two worlds, get a second really quiet dishwasher installed. Shove the dirty stuff in as soon as you are done (no rinsing) with some stuff and turn it on. Since you have a second dishwasher….or maybe two additional drawer dishwashers, you could really keep the cleaning going without a ton of extra work. Of course, this is not very good for the environment….but it might work for an occasional entertainment. Alternatively, you could get your prep OCD on and dice everything beforehand …so all you need to do is the heating and dumping or whatever once others are there…. Or….you could only invite more low key people over when you have guests….people who don’t care if there are a mountain of dishes all over the place or partially chopped onions left on the cutting board. So maybe the problem is really with your guests. After all, you have been nice enough to invite them to your house for socializing and food. They could try to be good guests. If they have too much OCD in them to abide the mess, let them do the dishes while you cook.
For a pair of childfree introverts who like hanging out with each-other but not the rest of the world and don’t have a lot of floorspace in general, an open plan is great, but we’re a very specific use case 🙂
Different types of spaces suit different kinds of people…
Ellen M. Solensky says
So ,when I was 23 and had one kid back in the dark ages ( 1969) i wanted separation from the chillen. Now I’m a grand , after four kids and 15 grands, I still want separation ! I love my ” formal” living room that we , my hub and I, use in the morning for coffee and conversation and the completely separate den for TV and little conversation after dinner ( because of sports or shows) I get the kids who want to see their little ones but I think a lot of them are working outside the home parents ( a totally different subject ) who need to be with the kids when they are all home . BTW when the grands visit they watch
TV or sit and visit in the living room. Different strokes folks !
Howdy. First, I really miss Soul II Soul.
I am not an open floor plan person. I think open floor plans were this great idea for people who really don’t cook or first-time homeowners who need to watch over their small kitchen. And they were pushed as this great thing for everyone. And how dining rooms were wasted space.
I cook a lot. A lot. My house is semi-open and everyone can hear me cook. They have to turn the tv up super loud to hear it, and I end up wearing headphones to hear my music/audiobooks. If I had my dream kitchen, it would be the kitchen from Practical Magic. There is an area for the family to hang out (and cook together) and there is a separation between the kitchen, dining room and living room. And to have the table right there when making rice balls or Cucidati would be wonderful (those take a lot of time and it would be wonderful to be able to sit down and put them together).
I do miss the formal dining room. Granted, we didn’t always use it, but now that I don’t have one I miss it. My dining table is in the kitchen area. It is hard to explain. I feel like Christmas/Thanksgiving/Holiday dinners are missing something. I think maybe it is because I am looking at the dirty dishes/pots in the sink instead of enjoying the company and feast I just made.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who caught the Soul II Soul reference…open concepts look great on HGTV but who wants to constantly be doing=hiding the dirty dishes until you feel like washing them..not everyone is blessed with a dishwasher but lucky me I birthed 3 manual dishwashers named Stephen, Ashton and Myles.
Jeanne G says
Practical Magic house is my dream house too! (and strangely, I just mentioned this house earlier today) mostly love it for the greenhouse attach and tower attic, but the kitchen is good too. Awesome trim and vertical plate storage in uppers….I have an open style kitchen now but style of my house is 1950s Texas range, so layout original. I have a kitchen island with baking pans storage subbed in for where a small kitchen table would have been and put the bigger sit down table where “fancy” dining table would have been
I have a small condo and my kitchen would be really claustrophobic (galley-style) if it weren’t open concept. If you actually walled in the kitchen, my fridge would literally be in the hall. But you can’t see any dishes or any of the counters from the dining room – it has a half wall that extends about ten inches above the counter, blocking any dirty dishes from view!
When we ‘entertain’, it tends to be potlucks. You end up with such a diversified selection. I provide 2 main dishes and the rest is the luck of the draw. I also end up with a lot of new recipes!
Yes to all this! It’s impossible to find new houses (unless you build) without an open floor plan where I live. I hate them. I don’t want my couch backing up to my kitchen table. I don’t want kitchen smells permeating every piece of furniture in the living room. I want to be able to hear my tv (acoustics seem to be terrible in open floor plans). And finally, like you said, I don’t want to stare at the mess in the kitchen when I’m entertaining.
Oh yeah!!! If I hear one more young thing, buying a house ten times the cost of mine, talk about how much space they need to entertain and how muuuuch they just loooooooove to entertain, I will reach through the screen to strangle them – what a pile of idiots – and do they really believe that we (or anyone out there for that matter) believe them? OK, glad I got that off my chest ????
Why is it the people on those shows who stress about entertainment space are the meanest people ever? Who are they entertaining?
Lisa L says
We have an open plan, probably one of the first ones since our house was built in the late 70’s. When it comes to family get togethers, it is usually held at our house since everyone loves my husbands cooking (I’m the sous chef so to speak).
Buying the food can be expensive and cooking it can be tiring, so we managed to get the family members to bring parts of the meal and help with cleanup. If the dishes pile up in the kitchen, who cares, we are there to spend time with each other.
I think we need to stop trying to be Martha Stewart perfectionists and focus on what is important about the visit. The company and the food. As for the unwanted commentary on the food prep, put them to work. They will either be busy helping, or will think better of making those “helpful” comments.
Our family/friends have a similar style. Sometimes we host sometimes we potluck. It’s always about the company. Most people in our circle want to join in and be part of the process.
That being said, I prep ahead where possible and share the cooking for the rest. We don’t worry about the dishes.
What about sliding doors? That’s how we solved the side effects of an open kitchen
I Googled open concept remorse. You are not alone. People are realizing walls have a purpose and are actually adding them back.
I am perfectly fine with having people hangin’ at my house. I do not “entertain”.
We just hang out and raid the kitchen once in a while.
I hate open concept living area. I couldn’t stand walking through the front door into one giant living/kitchen area when we were house hunting a few years back. I like my foyer. I like my eat in kitchen that’s separate from my living room. I have enough stress from the laundry needing to be folded in my living room. ;p If I had to stare at a sink with dishes from my sofa, my stress levels would sky rocket. I adore my children, but I don’t always want to hear them. I’ve never understood the love for open concept…unless it’s a condo for a single person or a couple residing…maybe.
Whoops. I meant to just leave a comment, not necessarily reply to one.
-sways with hands in the air- PREACH GURRRLLLLL
The only ‘open’ floor plan I’ve found I really liked was more akin to a shot-gun style trio of rooms, separated by arches about the length of a double-door. Kitchen in back, dining room in middle, family/living room in front. You could still see from one end to the other, but didn’t see all the kitchen dishes or feel like you would constantly have people running around underfoot. Because let’s be honest, and open floor plan invites people to invade your kitchen space, whether you’re cooking or not.
The people who entertain are young people with no kids yet. Or they entertain family / good friends a lot – who do not care about seeing mess. I am in my 50s – the 20 somethings I know do entertain a lot. I entertained a lot in my 20s. We don’t anymore. We live in a 900 sq ft apartment with an open floor plan – kitchen is open to the living and dining area. We do not have a dining table. We have cannibalized the space for other purposes. We meet friends out for dinner like most other New Yorkers. My husband and I are not chefs and don’t cook big meals.
We do clean up after ourselves as we go along otherwise there would be no counter space to do anything. So the odd time when the family is visiting they sit on the bar stools at the counter top. I pull out a couple of spare folding bar stools from storage and hubby and I sit on the other side of the kitchen counter.
The last holiday party we hosted was munchies – which were all prepared, and cleaned up, in advance.
That said when we one day move out of this city – hopefully within the next year – we plan to get a place about 1500 sq ft and I would like an open floor plan because I am tired of small spaces. I can’t hear hubby if he is in a separate room. No formal dining room. I dream of a pantry. I laugh at the real estate shows where the kitchen is the size of my apartment and they say it is too small. And don’t get me started on white kitchens. white counters, white cupboards, white tile. Does not work for me – feels too much the same even with “pops of color”.
Somehow this has made me love ypu even more.
While living over seas I loved having a door in my kitchen. I could keep the kiddos out or sing along to music while I cooked or cleaned. I loved it. I don’t actually mind cooking with guests in the kitchen
. Now I have an open kitchen… the kids want to help (which isn’t super helpful), they have Motown Dance Parties in there because the floor gives a wicked spin to their Four Tops moves, I can’t escape my husband’s video games, nor can I listen to some of my podcasts because the noise gets to be too much. And honestly, you’d think my husband was in the middle of a sword fight with all the noise he makes cleaning up. It is easier to monitor the kids this way, but sometimes I wish I could just close a door. I’ve started just playing music until dinner time, the dance breaks are pretty fun and nobody is allowed to complain about my singing. 🙂
Melissa B says
Seriously! I want to come dance at your house as no one wants to dance in my house. We danced as an engaged couple and then only one time since we got married. 20th Anniversary is coming up next week ????
I usually entertain once a year for Chinese New Year, and it’s known that people who come to my parties are expected to put in cooking or cleaning duty. Some hope to get out of it by bringing offerings of libations, but that usually doesn’t fly with the other people putting in kitchen duty and they get dragged to dumpling making or cooking duties after a few hours. If they have children, then their children are happy to put in hours of work because they love the novelty of teaching dumpling making to the adults who get dragged to the prep table or overseeing whoever gets recruited to be a circulating server.
I think I’d actually prefer an open space plan because it’s easier to spot the shirkers, instead of someone shouting from the kitchen and hoping to get heard, “Hey, where’s xxx?” Cuz the kids take up the screaming and it echoes in the kicthen, LOL!
Thank you, I to cannot stand the folks on HGTV who want open concept and luv to entertain. What about all of those folks who just want a nice kitchen and family room to make dinner in and then collapse and watch TV while recovering from working for a living. Don’t those people want homes? Where do they live? Why do they never show these folks on HGTV?
When we were kids my parents always parked us in the family room far away from their adult quests. This was a good thing for both kids and parents.
I hear that there is new trend, folks who have open concept homes have hidden (second) kitchens where the real work is done and the open concept kitchen can be kept pretty and neat.
Every time we’ve house hunted (except our first house, we learned from our mistake) we’ve insisted that the house has to have a separate dining room. I just can’t stand open concept.
I love my open kitchen. It’s not about entertaining for me… though when we do have people over, they hang out everywhere – in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the living room, and I hang out with people while I do food prep. Sometimes it’s messy, and I warn the people in the splash zone. Otherwise, I put snacks everywhere and let people be adults. You know what I hated about my previous kitchens? I felt alone and left out all the time. Now I can watch a movie while I cook, because my TV swivels. I can tease people playing games at the table while I cut up snacks. I really don’t find food smells permeating everything. And people seem fine segregating themselves into groups, while still allowing free and easy movement between the spaces. I don’t have kids, and the distraction of kids seems like it could be an issue. But there are other reasons why my house is not a great kid house, so I can live with this.
Loved the book! Thanks again for everything you do for us, and I’m so glad that you’re returning to a quieter state of life. <3
Open floor plan works well for our family for daily life because none of us care about dirty dishes till after dinner. I don’t even try to cook when we have company, which is rare. Those nights we are all better off with fajita buffet from local Mexican restaurant. ????
I have a closed kitchen. This means that when my husband is “chatting about his day,” he is yelling literally at the top of his lungs to make sure I hear him as he plays video games in the living room while I cook dinner. He doesn’t mind. I think an open floor plan would be an improvement. Grass is always greener.
I’m a fan of the semi-open floor plan.
The house I grew up in had a variation on this. There was a wall between the living room and kitchen, but the “dining room” was open to both the living room and the kitchen, so it was a seamless space. Close family and friends easily spilled into the dining room and kitchen, but nobody was staring at dirty dishes after dinner on Christmas.
I’m personally a fan of the version that involves the strategic use of partial walls and bar-height counters to block the view of the actual food prep while still allowing the flow of conversation between kitchen and living area. That was how my kitchen was in two of my apartments, and it served much the same: my closest friends would venture into the kitchen to help with the prep or clean-up, while guests would hang out in the living room where they really couldn’t see over the counter to the sink or food prep areas. Also, it was easy to serve food buffet style on top of the counter.
Chris T. says
This is what I have and love in my house! The bar height allows me to talk with folks in the living room if entertaining and watch TV if not. The tall bar height contains the splash noise from the sink and hides the dirty dishes. We do not have a formal dining room because I only invite over people who don’t care about a little mess. Why would I entertain anyone else?
Yes, another vote for the semi-open floor plan. If your kitchen is enclosed, people don’t want to sit around in the living room while you are slaving away in the kitchen and so they come in to hang out and then they are underfoot. If it’s open-open, mess everywhere. Semi-open (ie a defined space – half wall or hutch – with a counter) gives people somewhere to perch and chat that is out of the way, and allows you to sit down to table out of sight of the mess.
I guess that still leaves you open to people commenting on how you chop your tomatoes, but I don’t give a flying monkey what people think about my tomato chopping (also, this is why the cook gets to open the wine first).
Semi-open is the way to go! When we moved back into the city in smaller quarters, our townhouse has a kind-of half wall formed by the standing height counter above the regular working counter. That means that the folks in the dining room and living room beyond it can yell in to ask for another glass of wine and the “chef” (me) can ask someone to come chop some vegetables for me. The dishes piled on the dishwasher and in the sink are hidden unless someone is standing right in front of that counter….in which case they get put to work setting the table. Best of both worlds.
I have an 1100 square foot house and 3 acres. All my “entertaining” is done out in the yard. Yes, we grill out there, but all the mess and dishes and prep is in the kitchen inside. People sometimes help us carry in all the evidence of party, but I figure anyone who cooks knows there is cleanup and I don’t care.
Kelley Donaghy says
Yes!! Yes to all of this. We moved into an open floor plan house about 12 years ago and I have hated it since. We didn’t buy it for the open floor plan, we were time pressed and it was the nicest on the market in our price range. Everyone who visits loves it, but they don’t live with it. We had small kiddos when we moved in and I can’t say it was better then the “closed” floor plan of our previous house for keeping them out of trouble.
By the way, you missed the “when it burns, the whole house smells and you can’t get the smell of burned food out of upholstery fabric very easily” part that really gets to me. Not that we burn much, but the food smells (even when the food is cooked well) linger so much longer.
Jackie Nicholson says
I’m with you. M living room and dinning room is open to each other. My husband want to knock down the wall between the dinning room and kitchen. I say no. I LIKE having the space to myself to strategize and plan things out.
Lisa Jovan says
Greetings to every body that is reading this testimony.
I am Lisa from USA. Me and my boyfriend were seriously in love for six years and we were planning to get married but one day he came to my house and told me he was no longer interested in our relationship simply because he was dating another rich lady who promise to buy him a car and to sponsor their wedding. And i suffer heartbreak for seven months and i was not tired of loving him.so i took a bold step by contacting a spell caster who helped me bring my ex boyfriend back. he is powerful and He’s also specialize in money spells, lottery spells, sickness spells E.T.C. his contact is firstname.lastname@example.org and his whatsapp number is +1 281 623 4163. you can also contact him for help.
Jeanne G says
Oh honey, you are much better off without him. General rule of thumb: if you need to contract supernatural services to retain a romantical partner, there other fundamental issues that have gone wrong with the relationship and you should abort. Maybe ask for a recipe for balance and self reflection instead?
Totally agree. Everyone knows that love spells go sour over time. What happens when you run out of money to pay the witch? Or a passing demon decides to get mischievous and mess with the spell? You’re better off with match.com or PlentyofFish. I know it seems like heartbreak now, but it’ll only get worse in the future if you keep walking this path. Don’t ask me how I know, but please learn from my mistakes.
Nope, that’s why restaurants and other social gathering places were invented.
On a side note:
My partner and I are introverts and our home is our safe place. There are VERY few people invited to our house, and those people know the rule.
First time – I get it for you.
Second time – I show you where it is.
Third time – You get it your self.
We are not actually misanthropes, (despite what it seems), my partner is shy and I’ve fought a bad case of social anxiety most of my life.
We are similar. Generally only people we’ve known for ueara well are invited over. And they are usually at home in our space
And feedback doesn’t bother me when I am cooking. I am confident with my skills and also easy going. If I disagree with the comment I do my way. But if I don’t care or if it makes no difference to me I just go with the flow.
And less room for entertaining, more room for books!
Thank you for replying Layla, I was afraid I was sounding like a curmudgeon.
I married into an Italian (Sicilian actually) and I can’t keep any of them out of my kitchen. When family visits (including my own kids) EVERYONE ends up in the kitchen. I have a reasonably sized kitchen, but it has several chokepoints in the layout. I would give anything for an open layout with a big island so I could shoo them around to the other side! Fortunately for me, they also help with prep and cleanup without even thinking about it, so that’s helpful. As for those “are you sure you want to do it that way” comments, I have 60++ years of cooking experience and am completely comfortable answering with “Yes, I’m sure”. They can do it their way at their own homes!
Chris T. says
This is what I have and love in my house! The bar height allows me to talk with folks in the living room if entertaining and watch TV if not. The tall bar height contains the splash noise from the sink and hides the dirty dishes. We do not have a formal dining room because I only invite over people who don’t care about a little mess. Why would I entertain anyone else?
The last thing I want to do after a long day is entertain. I want to come home, take off my bra, eat dinner and go to bed. Period. No drama. Having people over often incurs drama. No thank you.
Kris Ten-Eyck says
I agree with you on open floor plans! Plus it’s super noisy if you’re trying to watch something on TV and the blender is going. My husband and I purposefully did NOT want am open floor plan when we were looking for houses. The realtors all thought we were crazy but we’re happy with our choice. No open floor plan for us.. not to say the kitchen is closed off but we have some separation.
cheryl z says
I have a small house, so open floor plan is necessity. I love cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner for my close friends, never more than 15 people which is a bunch in a small house. I do the prep 2-3 days before, farm out dishes to be heated in my neighbors ovens and fill up almost all floor space with folding tables. By the end of clean up, every year I swear I won’t do it again. I’m retired but still don’t like to entertain anyone but close friends and my three doggies.
Agree and disagree. I opened up the kitchen to the living room (no space for a dining room). It’s great for pot lucks or large gatherings, and I can use the living room couches as seating for folding tables when the crowd gets really big. So, the mostly open floor plan comes in handy a couple times each year.
However, on a daily basis, everything ends up being a giant mess as there is no place to shove stuff and close the door.
My preference is semi-closed with a partially concealed kitchen. But, in my area and price range, you take what you can get and make it work. Floor plan angst is definitely a not-too-sad-to-have problem. 🙂
Shawna Eddy Kissell says
We will never have an open kitchen. My house is 120 years old and has a modern beautiful kitchen with a butlers pantry so people can get wine if they like or help put dishes on the table but i dont have to see the dishes or smell food all the time. Making food puts grease and other aerasolized particles in the air that i will scrub off my cabinets and counters but don’t want to deal with on my tv or couch. There’s no Febreeze that good.
Separate kitchen or open floor plan it doesn’t matter! Everyone is in the kitchen all the time! Even when I try to put the food in the dining room they all migrate back in. The only difference that I see is that in the open floor plan you have more room. The only time I have not had all the guests in the kitchen the entire party is when I hosted a Harry Potter Murder Mystery party at Hogwarts. That time they were sneaking into each other’s common rooms, the potions lab, 3rd floor bathroom, prefects bathroom, great hall, dungeon and Hogsmead. Great fun but quadruple the work
Everyone does always end up in the kitchen. In my dream house I want a couch in there. But do people end up in the kitchen because it’s the most comfortable spot or because that is where the host usually is and they are the person you’re most comfortable to be around???
Rachel Rawlings says
I have an open plan kitchen/dining/living room, but the living room is set back from the kitchen, so you don’t feel like your are cooking next to the sofa. I have a firm tile when I host one of our bi weekly family dinners (10 to 17 attendees)….no one is allowed behind the counter, ie they have to stay out of the sink stove refrigerator triangle. I setup a drinks table on the living room side with and ice bucket, cups and and assortment of drinks. For holiday meals, I put out appetizers on the coffee table. I have what I call an open galley kitchen….there is only room for one person between the sink/stove, so a very tight kitchen triangle ( and not enough cabinet space for all of my cooking gear). I also prep early and usually run a cycle in the dishwasher before or shortly after I get done with the main part of the meal. The entertaining part happens after I cook not while I am cooking. My stove exhaust fan vents to the outside, which helps control cooking odors, but everyone knows when I’ve been cooking bacon.
The plus side of my layout is I can drop in a kids table plus a folding table in the open part of my open plan space when I have a large crowd and still have room to run a buffet off of my island.
Thai food cooking make loads of smoke and smell and whatnot. We used to built the kitchen in seperate building, or just outside. So this is not gonna work. Unless you are the ‘can’t cook people’ who just microwave or reheat stuff.
I wash dishes and clean the kitchen as I cook. Once I’m done with a dish it gets washed. Therefore when the food is ready there is no mess. I’ve been trying to teach my kids this for years!
e smith says
I agree open floor plans suck! Be nice to work in the kitchen and not have the tv blaring in the living room so those watching can hear it.
Oh I am so with you! Open floor plan are the worst! I love making big meals from scratch and that means lots of knives, bowls, pots and pans. I try to clean as I cook but once everything is ready and hot you want to plate it and eat and I want to throw a sheet over my dirty dishes so I can enjoy a hot meal.
I also like to listen to something while I’m cooking for hours (music, audiobooks or a movie I’ve seen 10,000 times) and I don’t want to disturb others who are patiently waiting for food.
Growing up our kitchen had a counter separating it from the family room and a sliding door separating it from the dinning room. The dinning room was open to a formal living room. That sliding door was AWESOME! Food is ready, close door on messy kitchen and enjoy. Dinner over, drop off dishes in kitchen. Kids hang out in family room. Adults close sliding door and have coffee in living room.
A separate kitchen with a table or counter a few people can eat at or which can be used as additional work space is perfect. I dont like the smell of food in my whole living area, so a door is a must. And when we entertain (lol) people can be outsourced to the dining room (which additionally serves as the gaming room for pnp or magic the gathering).
Open floors are a necessity when you live in a small space (much better that than a series of tiny claustrophobic rooms) like a small flat.
Otherwise, I agree 100% with what you say. I love cooking, but I don’t want all the house to smell of what I have been cooking for hours. Luckily, my family home has a kitchen (for cooking purposes only), a dining room/den (for the family to eat and gather) and a living room. The joy of old houses.
In reference to how much HGTV folks love open plan living…..the thing that everyone is missing out on here, is that HGTV must have open plan, otherwise all the walls would interfere with the movements of the cameras. People need to remember that television is entertainment, not real life. If you are continually trying to modal your life and environment to emulate what you see on the tube, you’re going to be incredibly inconvenienced.
My parent’s entertain. Always have and it’s exhausting! And they have an open floor plan. Thank goodness they got their current home long after I left home because they are the ‘clean it all.up after dinner’ type. Which is also exhausting.
I constantly feel like.my house is a mess because of our open floor plan. But we do NOT entertain. We have visitors once every 9 months to a year. I’d rather just meet people out to socialize. It keeps the time down to a couple of hours. Someone else cleans up. And you come home to a clean house.
Emma L Gill says
A lot of houses in Australian suburbs are open-plan, or at least ‘newer’ ones are. Personally I love the idea of the kitchen being the heart of the home, to be baking cookies, making tea, or prepping dinner all while talking, entertaining, and supervising the kids. But. The kids can get too close to the oven and baby always wants to be in the dishwasher. I can never get away from anybody and just have some cooking time (which is my zen space). And yeah, the dishes also become the heart of the house. Heart Attack.
Then again, the open plan area encourages the kids to become involved with cooking, and that’s the way I like it. Hopefully I won’t be sending the monkeys out into the world without some self-help skills. And if I’m entertaining, I quite like it when guests ask if they can help with anything (taking platters, clearing plates). Seems like a polite way to give back. Maybe that’s my English upbringing.
All in all… can’t have everything.
No fight here, just total agreement. My main argument though focuses on noise. I am very noisy in the kitchen be it cooking or cleaning I’m just plain noisy. Makes it hard for someone to enjoy watching tv while I’m in the kitchen banging away.
Entertaining, Bah! I’m a bit obsessed with watching tiny house videos and in almost all of those videos they insist that they love to entertain. You live in a closet how are you going to entertain 20 of your closest friends? I call BS. Seriously, for me the last thing I want to do is entertain when I get home. I want to change out of my dress clothes into my pajama’s and chill out.
Elizabeth Toye-Jones says
I agree and disagree. I have an archway into my dining room, about the size of a regular door frame. Nothing grand. And I do like the separation. Dining rooms are a little more formal so you shouldn’t see the kitchen mess. However, my kitchen, living room, and eating area are all open concept which I love.
Pros: People sit in the living room to talk while other sit at the eating area to have munchies before the meal, while I am in the kitchen cooking. We entertain. Usually 16 for Christmas, a smaller amount for Thanksgiving, bigger amounts for other parties, like birthday parties and the “back to school” bash we just had, and just because parties. Our families alone make up of 13 extra people, plus friends, so yeah, we entertain. We put the leaves in the tables so we can sit 8 in the eating area, 8 in the dining room, and we have a dining table on the deck that seats an additional 6 when the weather is good. I love it. And no one flips about the mess. We’re all friends here. We know cooking is messy.
In my old house? Everything was closed off. We entertained and fed people in the basement. My kitchen was on the first floor. I used to miss 3/4 of every party we threw because the kitchen had nowhere for people to sit and visit with me while I cooked. It sucked. I love my new arrangement. We’ve been in the “new” house for about two years. Open concept all the way.
Cons: We have a beautiful dining room. Everyone sits in the eating area in the kitchen first to be as close to the kitchen as they can be. Dining room is filled up last. YO! I have a dining room for guests. GO EAT IN THERE. USE THE SQUARE FOOTAGE OF MY HOUSE THAT NEVER GETS USED!
One more con is that during regular days, my kids and husband are not allowed in the living room/eating area/kitchen open concept when I am cooking. I do not want to hear your show on the tv or chat with you when you sit in the eating area or hear you playing games on the living room floor when I am doing the dreaded chore of cooking. I am trapped at the stove and can’t leave. Y’all are not, so shut up, go away, and leave me alone.
But all in all, I am totally for it. I love it.
I love my open concept kitchen. We installed one of those big, undivided sinks, it holds most of the mess out of sight until after dinner when everything goes in the dishwasher (I empty the dishwasher before cooking and anything that can go in, gets put in while cooking, hot or messy stuff in the sink).
The TV is on a swivel, the big dining table separates the two areas (previously there was a kitchen cabinet hanging out and dividing the two spaces, the space for a table was tiny). We keep the TV quiet with close captioning on, so you read if you want to know what’s going on.
With 4 dogs and 4 cats space is a necessity! Also with so many animals all of my furniture is covered, the covers get washed weekly = no food smells in the furniture!
Currently looking for a new place, but the area we are looking at has houses with lots of tiny rooms. I like to be where everyone else is. 12 x 12 is not an adequate living room size and 6 x 8 is not a bedroom, and the kitchen being in 3 rooms (butlers pantry, stove area and often the fridge in a third room) just so you can have a 10 x 10 dining room makes no sense to me! Oh, and people can help you clean the kitchen while you cook. What they think this is a free meal? No kids here, just our own mess. We entertain maybe twice a year as we moved 3,000 miles away from friends and family when we retired. Lol. Looking to move so we are only 1,500 miles away. Maybe then they will visit…
Perfectly said about the whole open concept idea.
It finally occurred to me. I LOVE watching the fixer shows but… where does the STUFF go? Who wants to work 24/7 keeping the house pristine? And you just know that those huge kitchen islands are great for holding pizza boxes.
My niece and her hubs and two little ones just downsized to a smaller house partly because in addition to working as a NICU nurse PT- she was cleaning the house and pool all the time. (She has higher standards than me)
I have semi open floor plan as well, and I like the kitchen open to the living room so I can really crank up the music while I cook, and it’s not just trapped in one room, bouncing off all the hard surfaces. That being said, I Do Not entertain. My sister and I live together and we are both introverts who go to friends houses a couple times a year, never have the holidays, ( because when the kids get crazy, we just go home) and are seriously ocd about sanitation. Which means I don’t let anyone else cook in my kitchen, not even my sister, not that she cooks, since I’m sure they can’t possibly be doing a good enough job cleaning up after themselves. I can’t even fall asleep if I know there was one dish left in the counter or in the sink overnight. That being said we do have a separate living area we like to call the library (it’s where we store our thousands of books, introverts need entertainment too) so if you don’t want to be involved in my concert, there is a fairly quiet space. My pet peeve is these giant kitchens. I love to cook, but I especially love to bake. I find it very relaxing to be precise. Anyhow, why would I want a kitchen that made me run a marathon when I want to spend a day baking. A kitchen can be pretty small if it has a great layout. It’s like as long as there’s granite countertops and it looks modern and updated no one pays attention to the blatant flow issues. Gugh. It drives me nuts. I almost never see a kitchen on those hgtv shows that has a layout I would consider workable.
I totally agree about the way out. I just do not get how these kitchens designs we see on HGTV could possibly be functional in real life.
Jim Huffman says
Just wanted to say a very sincere “Thank you!” for many hours of pleasure. I enjoy everything y’all have written. Including this blog entry – I equate the open floor plan to the much touted “Open Office” concept of many half height cubicles in a very large space with many people collaborating. Whoever came up with that never had to try and write code or design databases in one.
Mary Fisher says
You also lose walls for shelves and closets. Someone looking at new apartment buildings noticed that this new open floor plan looked pretty, but created a huge dearth of storage space.
Susan A Tipton says
And outlets. Where do the electrical outlets go? Do you hang cords from the ceiling or run them across the floor everywhere.
Mary Fisher says
So true! That’s mostly why I left a big wall standing when we removed another and enlarged a doorway. Storage, outlets, and strategic-view blocking. Most gardens are more appealing if you can’t see the whole thing at once, same with home interiors.
Lizz D. says
So, I’m with you on the dirt factor. My home builder (we built our home here in Indiana… and by built, I mean we picked out a floorplan and everything that went in it, and someone else did all the work LOL) semi-solved that problem. So, when we entertain (holidays mostly), we cook in the kitchen and hang out in the living room. We have a half wall that divides the two. On the kitchen side of the half wall is counterspace, sink, dishwasher. On living room side? A blank wall that I have yet to fill with the pictures I’m eventually intending on putting there because I have a 3.5 year old who would destroy them. LOL.
So, friends/family can’t see the mess I’m making, but at the same time, I can still socialize. As for the distractions of said friends/family, you’re totally right. I’m usually just nodding and saying mmhm a lot while they’re talking at me. xD
I still wouldn’t go back though. It’s nice to be able to talk to my husband while I’m making dinner since we don’t get to see each other a whole lot due to odd working hours.
I have an open concept. I love the interaction – I relegate most gets to sit at the bar while I’m cooking; however, cooking smells are my pet peeve. Bacon does smell wonderful in the morning. Mid-afternoon with the smell of cooked bacon in the living room, not so much! Okay, bacon is a bad example, because it makes everything better, but you get the drift.
ROFL!! That cracked me up. I feel the same way. Open concept looks wonderful. In truth, I like my privacy in the kitchen. If I want to leave a mess, no one can see it unless they walk in. We seldom entertain and I don’t even think of it as that when it’s family. You need a wall to hide behind sometimes, a place to make faces rather than bang your head on the counter. And if you do bang your head on the counter, well that wall hides that too!
Colleen Whitley says
I have a stool in the kitchen. When I sit on it my head is below counter-height and there I am: hiding with my IPad or a book. If the kids really need me then I will pop up. It helps the kids reach the upper cupboards the rest of the time.
Oh my god cannot agree more on the open floor plan thing! I am addicted to HGTV (especially the house buying shows) and the number of people who want open floor plan and white kitchens (dear god do you actually cook?)! Distinct spaces make happy families. What if you happen to have someone in your family who watches TV extremely loudly and only watches certain channels (say a father who must check the stock market channel constantly)? Open floor plan means EVERYONE is watching the stock market, and he gets annoyed when we’re playing cards at the breakfast table that is open to the living room and making too much noise. Another thing…people who say they want a particular house style but need open floor plan don’t seem to understand the house style also includes the interior layout. There is no such thing as an open floor plan colonial. Colonials have rooms. Another great thing about those shows (aside from the ridiculous budgets, jobs, expectations, and inability to compromise) are the people who want massive bedrooms. Bed, end table, maybe a dresser or desk. What more do you need? What kind of adventures on these people having in their bedrooms? These people also by some twist of fate tend to be the people who ‘entertain’ all the time 😉
Well, I’m in the minority here, but I really liked the Open Concept I had in my house. I would entertain, a lot (at least once per month). Raging extrovert here. Also full-time divorced professional raising two young sons. (Had an au pair.) But I always, always had a buffet, and the food and everything was prepared and kitchen cleaned up before anyone arrived. Food out in chafing dishes, etc. Or (back in the 70’s and 80’s) we had fondue. Or I had wine tastings, with crackers and cheese, etc. Now I’m older, boys are grown, and I have a 3-bedroom condo with NO room to entertain. Just as well, I’m usually too tired after my daily senior volunteer tasks to entertain. But I do miss those days, sometime.
You are so right especially about having people over that you want to impress. That being said, the open concept is for family entertaining. Its when you have everyone in the kitchen prepping, cooking, doing dishes, watching tv and children– all at the same time. It’s a mad house, but fun.
Yeah, and no one tells you that when you have an open space, you can see the mess your kids made while playing from EVERY angle and room.
carol m says
My feelings exactly! I get distracted with help in my kitchen. I do not want to spend fun time cleaning up the mess from dinner, although it’s nice if someone helps clear off the table at least. I like my rooms separated by walls where sound is buffered, privacy is not an illusion and I mostly knew if my boys were up to something by the silence.
Cheers for walls!!! and entertaining enough so as not to be considered a hermit or antisocial.
Eh, I don’t mind a mostly open kitchen. I tend to clean as I go and don’t mind a little mess left behind until morning. What I hated was feeling trapped in another room while everyone else had fun in the family room. I’d rather take my time during prep and visit if people are around. I do get why people hate open concept homes though. I prefer a little partial wall to define the spaces. I don’t like all the rooms being together without any sense of division.
I always think I’m going to entertain but never do. It’s too much work and then I’m so worried about making something everyone will enjoy that it takes the fun out of it. With so many food sensitivities, allergies and dietary preferences it makes cooking for a crowd too stressful. So other than family, extended family and my kids’ friends I don’t really entertain either.
???????????? omg yes!! I say that every time I watch those shows! Either that or.. “they clearly have no kids and part time jobs if they have all this time to entertain..”
My grandmother did a lot of “entertaining.” She had a big Victorian home where she hosted receptions for visiting artists, musicians, military, and so on. She was the wife of a General. Hosting formal gatherings was her “job.” She did NOT have an open kitchen. The mess was strictly off limits to guests. The public areas and food service were always immaculate.
My family is the complete opposite. Food preparation and other messy projects are the center attraction. Everybody spends most of their time in the kitchen, so we made our “kitchen” big enough to hold everybody. Open floor plan. For Christmas, the six kids make gingerbread houses from scratch. All at the same time. Wall to wall mess. Clean up is also a group activity, so the dirty dishes are an opportunity, not an embarrassment.
That said, I sometimes wish we had a second public space. When the teenagers have friends over, there is no escape.
Yes!Thank you!I though I am the only one.
I am very lucky, my husband does dishes. When we entertain people it is usually on a casual basis. My island has a higher side so when you are sitting in the dining area you can’t see the actual counters in the kitchen. I can certainly see the appeal of an actual dining room but since I never lived in a house that had one I don’t know what it would be like.
When I am cooking on the entertaining days my husband usually comes in and loads the dishwasher and starts it at least once before company comes. I also have gotten pretty good at prepping a lot of food ahead of time.
Erin Valentine says
Annnnd…the people watching a very tense, exciting show/movie are interrupted by grinding and sloshing and chopping and whirring and splashing.
I read somewhere that the open concept trend is dying in the bigger markets, so it should trickle down to the rest of the world in a few years. Our house is 115 years old, and every room is separate, but still has a nice flow.
Patricia M. says
Entertaining is a lot of work. My husband advocates for entertaining but I seem to do all the work . I just don’t have the energy to put into socializing and, luckily, in New York, going out to dinner together is considered socializing. In New York City, where I lived a very long time, no one had apartments big enough to socialize.
I wouldn’t want open plan at home because I wouldn’t want anyone to see all the mistakes I have to fix before the food gets on the table. My family rented a house at Thanksgiving that was open plan and it really worked very well for that. A lot of people were helping in various capacities and we all got to socialize continuously.
I don’t know if any were built outside the UK but in the UK between the 1900s and 1940s a number of houses were built with heavy wood sliding panels between the dining room and the living room. For normal living the panels stayed shut but if you were entertaining you could slide them back into the walls and extend your dining table into the living room . Most of the houses now have the panels removed but I saw a few still in place wen I was house shopping 10 years ago. It was a simple concept but the level of craftmanship to get them those massive doors to slide so easily and almost vanish into the walls was impressive. These were just normal mid terrace houses not fancy places
I have a somewhat open concept – kitchen is open to breakfast and somewhat open to den, but dining room is separate. I hate it when I am cooking and everyone crowds around in my kitchen! I would like to renovate and at least create a bar area to create a division of space. I do like having the dining room separate, BECAUSE we entertain what I would consider a lot (once a month, all family gatherings and holidays are always at our house) and that way we can have a nice meal and not have to look at all the mess. My husband and I have been at odds – he wants less walls, I want more. Guess which one of us is the introvert! 🙂
I live in a townhouse so my downstairs is one 15 by 17 ft room. On one 15 ft side is a 5 ft wall, the hallway opening and then the kitchen. The wall opposite has a bay window, a 4 ft wall and a sliding patio door. The builder thought a u shaped kitchen with a peninsula extending the hall down the middle of the room was a brilliant idea. Open concept is horrible, unless maybe the 3 rooms you’re squishing together have the same square footage as they would if they were separate rooms.
In my family we all hang out in the kitchen and cook together. As we got older the only thing that changed was the addition of gin. So now that is my favourite way to entertain. If people have time to comment on your tomato chopping skills they are obviously not working hard enough. So give them the tomatoes….or the dirty dishes.
This is when double pocket doors are ideal, so you can have the view open to the kitchen or closed to the kitchen.
Options are always better. ^_^
Ours has a counter between kitchen and dining room; dining room is open to living room, so you can see into the kitchen from parts of the latter. My husband put a folding screen at the corner where kitchen, dining room, and living room intersect to shield it a little more.
This works perfectly well for us for two reasons. First, we don’t do formal entertaining. Holiday dinners are potluck, and anything that involves more than family tends to be an outdoor affair. Second, I am not a perfectionist and tend not to stress about presentation. Guests, or at least any that we invite, just want to have fun and a decent meal.
I think every family needs to think through how they intend to use their spaces. Our relatively modest aspirations fit well in an open plan. Other plans work better for those who aspire higher.
I love open floor plans. I grew up with it and love it. We usually make guests sit so that they are not able to look directly into the kitchen (instead into our garden). Also, i grew up helping to cook since i’m small. That’s how our family works, people who don’t cook are making dishes and between ourselves we usually have time to do at least part of the dishes.
Wanda Mitchell says
Those house shows mostly annoy me. It amazes me how many of the lookers can’t see past the color on the walls or the ugly carpet and actually pay attention to the space planning or visualize living there and if the flow works. My son and his friend flipped a house. I have been doing in-home care so I suggested widening doorways and taking bathroom layout into consideration for people needing assist devices like wheelchairs, walkers, or even crutches. They were not impressed but it’s a real problem in the average home. Houses are not designed for those “helpers” which creates major problems if you break a bone or need any kind of “help” in the bathroom. Getting old isn’t for sissies so if you’re planning on staying in your home long-term you might want to think about those issues if you remodel and plan ahead for old age. Much less expensive to stay in your own home rather than a senior institution.
When we remodeled a couple of years ago we went ahead and installed safety rails/bars in the showers. We also installed taller toilets which is hard for little kids to use but easier for our older relatives.
OMG yes! My bathroom itself is pretty large, but the door is not even the width of the door leading into the bedroom! It’s hard to even get in/out with the laundry basket, there is NO way a wheel chair or walker would fit.
Not yet had personnel experience with this but I know when my parents retired they took some of their pension as a lump some and ‘remodelled’ with old age in mind. It was not just the stuff you obviously think of like a wet room but things like widening the hall so you could easily get a wheel chair in and lowering some of the work surfaces in the kitchen (mum’s vertically challenged). They tried to put the house in a condition where it was easy to maintain and are really keen on light weight cordless appliances Dyson, lawnmower etc. It all proved it’s worth when mum had an ankle replacement the changes meant she could ride round the house on a scooter and still reach the work surfaces.
I love how my parents designed their eat-in kitchen and living room: It’s divided by two huge sliding doors that can disappear into the walls… so it can be either one big open space or two (still quite big) separate rooms.
Well said, Ilona! I completely agree. Must have some sort of barrier between the kitchen and living areas.
Who are these people who “constantly entertain”? I certainly don’t know any of them.
K D says
I have a semi open floor plan. You can’t see the kitchen from the living room. The dining room has no table because we have been remodeling and it is filled with tools and stuff. I don’t entertain. (or if I do, it’s outside in the summer. No one cares about messy bbq)
I just love your no nonsense, tell it like it is attitude. Keep it coming. FYI all your books are awesome but the Innkeeper books hold a special place for me. Thank you for all your dedication.
Entertain? I don’t even have the word welcome on my door mat! 🙂 But I would like a kitchen big enough for an island. Because I just want one.
LOL! I don’t have Welcome on my door mat either and haven’t found one that says ‘SCRAM!’ yet.
Cynthia Dalton says
I like the open concept for the public rooms (this does not include the kitchen). That way there is plenty of room for guests between the dining area and living area. Good for both formal and casual entertaining. We presently have 3 walls in the kitchen with the 4th side being a large counter with storage below and above it. This keeps the mess out of the view of most guests while allowing a large area to set up a buffet for family potlucks.
Another word for entertain is imagine…
Sorta, kinda agree……But one big difference…I NEVER have had nor will have people over I want to impress !!! I invite friends…and even when it has occasionally been business associates, other than making sure that the dust and cat hair was absent – they were welcome to my home as is. Seriously!!! Friends gather round the kitchen table/island regardless of how “open” my floorplan is (kitchen connects to family room).
I love watching American property shows for the kitchen porn (esp property brothers) but the fantasy never feels like it would work IRL because:
1. Entrance straight into open plan space. I don’t want to see dirty dishes stepping into the house. I want to shut the door and ignore them as long as possible
2. Cooking smells that linger (I cook a lot of Indian food so the struggle is real)
3. Nowhere to hide for me-time
Also I now have Soul II Soul stick on loop in my head
Totally agree – open concept is terrible. Noise everywhere, no privacy.. Or if you are making a bunch of noise, blender/food processor – anyone watching TV is mad.
I also can not stand walking in a front door directly into a staircase.
My next pet peeve: Why in Texas are formal dining rooms next to the front door too?
Pat Crouch says
No fight from me. I’m thoroughly in your corner on this question. The only halfway I’ve seen are little saloon doors between the kitchen and living room/ dining room.
I agree with the “we entertain all the time”. ???? Netflix and take out.
One of my neighbours, the ones in the big house, have a hydraulic wall that can go up or down so two of their sitting rooms can be turned in to one large room! Of course they have a cellar for the wall to drop down into, along with six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a complete flat over their garage.
This makes so much sense, now that I’m thinking about it. I always drool over those sexy kitchens..but in real life, I love privacy when I cook. I think of the kitchen like I do my studio- a kind of sacred space. Also, i’ve been watching a lot of chef shows, and their at home kitchens usually lean towards a closed off space- plus the island is practically the biggest space in the room which makes a lot of sense.
And thank you so much for blogging about one of my pet house peeves. The ‘GREAT ROOM”. I HATE THEM. I love having my dining room next to but separate from my kitchen. My house was built in 1967 but was renovated a couple of years before we bought it. (Can you say Ferguson kitchen?) I love it! I think it is so ridiculous to watch a show or see a real estate post that has a great room and there are two freakin’ dining tables in the same room! Such a waste of space!
For serial! The whole “we love to entertain!” thing bugs me to no end. It’s never real entertainment, I mean there are no clowns or jugglers, just two or three bowls of chips and pretzels, a sad attempt at a charcuterie board and some barely adult beverages. Plus, and maybe my fam is weird, when we had people over my mom and grandma would cook everything ahead of time and set the table before the guests arrived. The open concept wasn’t even a thing. I just dig the eat-in kitchen for small gatherings and a formal dining/living room for when people come over.
I don’t mind “entertaining” as long as it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Off and on, over the 18 years I’ve lived in my tiny condo, I’ve had a lot of people over. The key is to not care if the place is a mess and to not push myself beyond endurance to deal with company. The older I get, the less I care about a perfect home. For me, hospitality isn’t about doing things a certain way. It’s about hanging out in a mellow sort of way.
But open floor plans are horrible. Give me rooms that close off areas distinctly. I don’t even have any hallways. My floor plan just goes directly from one room to the next. With doorways between spaces. Doors are beautiful things. My kitchen doesn’t have a door so I hung pots and pans across the top of the entrance that stop just above my 5ft 1in height. That keeps everybody out of my kitchen while I work. Because I can’t work if you’re in there. Period.
My pet peeve when we bought the house before this one was a formal dining room – with WHITE carpet!!! And 2 kids under the age of 11. We put the dining table elsewhere and turned the dining room into a computer room. When we sold the house and downsized (kids off to college) we still never got that stupid white carpet truly as clean as I wanted, even with a professional cleaner coming in.
The new house has a largish kitchen open to the dining area, but completely separated from the living room. I really like that, because you can be as informal as you want with friends over staying in the kitchen/dining area, but move to the living room and hide all the mess for a more formal occasion.
All I can see is that drapey plant like thing in the back ground and I’m thinking that won’t last with my cats.
I have to happily disagree – I love open floor plans. We just built our home to have a large open floor plan that combines the dining room, living room, and kitchen and it’s been wonderful. I have younger kids, so it’s great to have the ability to monitor my babies as they’re playing while I cook in the kitchen or eat. I agree with the others that enjoy interacting with family/guests while cooking. Our great room has floor to ceiling windows and high ceilings so when you walk in, the entire space feels more grand than it really is. 😉 When sunlight floods in the great room from nearly a dozen windows, and you’re lounging on the couch with a book, the space seems so bright and airy, I love it. I hate having too many partitions in a home, it makes me feel like I live in a rabbit warren and dividers waste and shrink space, at least in my opinion. Maybe it’s just my particular home, but there’s sufficient space between the dining area and the kitchen that even if the kitchen is a mess, I feel like we can sit down and enjoy a nicely prepared meal without being bothered by a towering stack of dirty dishes. To each their own!
Colleen Thorsen says
After 30 years of base housing and a small 70’s ranch we built a house with an open floor plan. We love it. I don’t care if people see my dirty dishes, but I do try to clean as I cook. People genuinely don’t care about your mess. They want to enjoy community. They want to be welcomed into your space… even your messy space. They don’t care if you have an open or closed floor plan. I prefer the open floor plan. Entertaining takes planning, because after working everyone is tired. We normally try to have a fun event at our house once a month. We plan these months in advance to reduce stress. But, you don’t have to entertain to have people over. Invite your neighbor in for a cup of coffee to make sure they aren’t serial killers, and so you don’t feel funny borrowing a cup of sugar.. Also, never underestimate the lure of food for adult kids… they come over and lounge in the living room and keep you company when you cook.
Definitely time to change gears for awhile,. I share your view on one big open room. Probably makes the house a lot cheaper to build, but I do not want to try performing ‘cuisine’ in front of a roomful of guests nor having to rush madly around trying to get the kitchen back to entertaining spec after spending a day trying new stuff in the kitchen. We bought a house a year ago. I’ve lived in all kinds of houses. I wanted lots of light. I didn’t want to feel crowded, but I wanted living on one level and nice separate kitchen with enough counter space to roll out dough and have bowls of stuff at hand. Found a house we love. it has a separate dining room where I go away from the suppertime pots and pans until, at least, we’ve finished eating. And it had, of all the archaic things, a butler’s pantry with a nice counter and glass front cabinets. House dates from 2002, not a Victorian hold over. Some people collect elephants or antique glass. Some have bales of yarn (done that) I have china that I love. Five sets of it, and I rotate the displays in the butler’s pantry. So sue me, I smile every time I walk through the pantry. Go for what makes you happy.
No, no, no to the open area house. Doors to keep areas out of sight are a good thing.
Yes, yes, yes to more writing. I love your blog but I love your books more. Wow, that’s not selfish. Seriously, you don’t have to explain anything, your blog, your books, your choice. I appreciate you and and your husband immensely.
Right now I am re-reading Burn for Me and then I’ll read White Hot and so on. Your books have entertained me and made me feel enthusiastic and happy during some tough times. Thank you.
I was amused. I have a semi open kitchen and dining/living area. In smaller houses open layouts make better sense, and overall the space feels bigger. I grew up in a small house with a door on every room. I hated it. However, there are some rooms that need doors. A music/library/hang out room. Bedrooms and bathrooms. In the kitchen/family room/dining area open space there are ways to construct the countertop so not everything is exposed—such as having a breakfast counter, the working surface then falls below the counter hight and hides the mess. One can create a layout with less exposure of the cooking area, such as in my currant house. I often used to chase people out of the kitchen, I like to work uninterrupted…basically because I get distracted and end up forgetting to add something to a recipe, or forget to serve something hiding in the fridge..
However, nowadays, I don’t usually “cook”, I “put food together” when we have people over. As I learned from my very busy grandmother I try to prep the things I can days before, when I have time. I think it’s also called lowering one’s expectations. I don’t do gourmet food, but I do buy the highest quality I can. And I buy interesting spices, or pots of things to try. Like bruschetta, or already baked jarred red peppers, or use salad dressings as bases in the frying pan. I use those things to adulterate/add to/change or improve the flavor of frozen packaged dinners, or already cooked things from supermarkets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I add a ton of spices, a shot of mushroom soup concentrate, and a bit of bourbon, to several cans of tomato bisque, for example. Served it with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, a piece of parsley for decoration, slices of a hearty bread, and other accompaniments and it gets rave reviews. Or we order excellent pizza, make a huge salad and serve wine. : ) I try for the easiest, least stressful, quickest way to feed people a decent, reasonably healthy meal.
You are absolutely right about not wanting to look at kitchen mess, and wanting to spend more time with guests. I am supremely lazy and get stressed easily, so I look for ways to have making meals be as easy as possible. I learned to clean as I go. Other than that my husband does the rest of the clean up and loads the dishwasher after we eat. We take a substantial break before serving dessert and coffee/tea.
We frequently do Sunday brunch for our two adult girls (and sigs), and grandchildren. For brunch I do eggy things, along with varied accompaniments. Brunch is the only time I DO actually “cook”. However, even for brunch I cook mushrooms, or peppers and onion combos, etc., ahead. I eat last, but everyone is drinking coffee and stays at the table to chat.
I hate having heavy smells wafting through the family room while people are here. That happens because, for some ridiculous reason, along with a too small MB shower for the size and age of this house, my kitchen stove fan does not vent to the outside! The latter is lunatic, no, they both are lunatic! They are at the top of the “intend to fix” list!
So, my vote is take it easy, and make food easy, life will be more enjoyable.
+1 on the “put food together”
and I just leave the mess in the sink after even though it is still visible while we all hang out – unless one of my more ‘can’t take the mess’ friends is over who starts doing the dishes in which case of course I am there doing dishes too.
I hear you! : )
While we’re still talking about it, another peeve of mine are those kitchen shelves. Who had this brainstorm. Unless you have a commercial hood, all the glassware and dishes gets a film of grease followed by dust that then sticks to the grease until run through the 190 degree dishwasher. If I wanted to wash almost half the contents of my kitchen weekly this would be awesome. Otherwise it’s a nightmare. I would very often like to strangle that fixer upper woman, who seems to put them in every kitchen she designs. It’s like the engineer that never actually repairs the car. Ugh!!
+ 1 on the shelves. Alos, that film of grease will end up on your pretty living room furniture…seen it, cleaned it, hated it…so open kitchen = No Go for me.
Yes!~ Exactly this! I have a friend who insists that shelves are better for “entertaining” and while yes, this is true…what a pain in the butt! You’d never be able to cook because everything would always be dirty!
+1 AMEN!! My argument exactly!
Susan B says
We just hired a contractor who will arrive Monday morning and begin tearing out the walls between the kitchen, dining room and living room so we can have an open plan in our 1971 house. I just really hate having to go through all the doors between the kitchen and the livinmeg room – I feel like a rat in a maze. We’ll also be adding a large sliding door out on to the backyard deck and bringing more light into the space which it desperately needs.
I’m buying 10″ deep sink which should hide most dirty dishes, and also investing in a good vent hood that should get rid of most of the cooking odors. A woman in my group of friends has been hosting pot-luck dinners for us for years, and has gotten tired of the cleanup so I’ve volunteered to take over any holidays when fireworks aren’t involved (her neighbors fire off awesome fireworks). We had the group over for Labor Day and it’s just so frustrating to me to have folks scattered over 3 rooms and a deck.
We really won’t be changing the kitchen all that much other than adding a pantry (which I desperately need) and adding a huge island to give us more counter space and seating in the kitchen (and cabinets!). And the patio door will actually allow us to sit and be able to look out at our backyard bird feeders; right now the only way we can watch the birds is to stand at the kitchen window or the back door.
We can’t wait to see the finished product.
Thumbs up on the deep sink. We have one, and it really does hide those pans that need some extra soaking and other clutter.
A few years back we remodeled our kitchen. It has 2 open arched doorways that lead to the living room and bedrooms, but now the family room/kitchen nook/kitchen is open. We have a large island with sinks and breakfast bar that acts as a low separator, like the picture. We found that people tended to congregate in and around the kitchen anyway. We have a large TV screen mounted on the family room wall that can easily be turned to view from the bar or the family room couches.
I will say that our group of friends, when entertaining, often mix in to the kitchen chaos and clean or prep. That goes for both genders, although I admit that the men are more often hosting the liquid refreshment areas…
Susan B says
I’ve noticed that our group of friends also congregates in the kitchen; after our remodel they’ll have a place to sit. And there will be seating next to the kitchen by the sliding door as well. Now that we are both retired we enjoy having people over, and potlucks make for a lot less work.
Beth Leffler says
No fight here. I can’t even open the flour jar without getting flour on the ceiling. My mom calls it “joie de cook”. Cuz she loves me and wouldn’t call me a disaster-maker. Our ancestors created doors for a reason…for many,many reasons…:)
Open floor plans are great for swashbuckling pool-noodle sword fights or Hot Wheels road rallies, but not real cooking, IM(not so)HO.
Heather M says
I could not agree more!
I have always disliked the open floor plan but mostly because I don’t want to see and hear my three teenage boys playing GTA all the time!
On a side note, I found something interesting today and I wanted to share. A few weeks ago while struggling to wait patiently for Sapphire Flame to come out, IA recommended a book by TA White, Pathfinder’s Way, that kept her up late it was so good. I read so many great comments from the BDH and I needed something good to distract from the suffering 😉 so I clicked on over and bought it. IA was right, it was really good, I stayed up too late and had a book hangover the next day. I did manage to read the next 2 books in the series (I recommend!) and survived until SF came out. Sadly I went into IA withdrawals immediately after I finished it so decided to re-read all of the Hidden Legacy books. Today, I called up Diamond Fire on my kindle and noticed something interesting. The woman on the cover of Diamond Fire and the woman on the cover of TA White’s Wayfarer’s Keep (third book in the trilogy) is the SAME WOMAN!! With just a little different hair! Small world or major conspiracy? Also, when I came onto the blog site to write this, the same woman is on the top scroll in a different pose! I’m so tickled by this! Did anyone else catch this?
Good eye, I didn’t catch it until I saw your comment. Even with the same woman, the covers look different to me, as there more differences than similarities in the overall scenes (e.g., hair, color scheme, centering of the character on the page, etc.). Probably just some publishing thing that writers are aware of, but we are not privy to, because I’ve seen various books with the same models and poses on them (Ilona might have touched on this on this blog before).
Absolutely LOVED Pathfinder’s Way! Well, all three in the series, since I just couldn’t stop reading.
Jill Dolbeare says
I agree. I love the looks of an open floor plan when I see an empty, new house. That’s where it ends. Besides the fact you always have to keep things clean, there is the constant noise. Try watching that Netflix show while someone is doing dishes, or the dishwasher (no matter how new and quiet) is going. It’s impossible. If you add in a real family, you never can hear anything. I think it was the worst idea ever. Only rich, famous people who just appear at one of those magical parties enjoys it.
theres a middle way: an open kitchen while you are cooking, and slide die milk-glassdoor shut after. while open, the door hides itself in the wall of the pantry. nowadays you dont have to compromise, unless you want to. ;-P
Melissa G says
I am in the midst of a complete renovation to an open floor plan BUT I do not entertain at all. I am one of those that come home from work, throws something in the oven, eats, watches one hour of TV and fall into bed to do it all over again the next day. I missed getting the entertaining gene that my mother had. She loved to entertain and had parties at least once or twice a month. I will say that she did not work outside the home.
The lovely cozy English kitchen in The Holiday seems ideal. It makes me think I have too much room. Houses keep getting bigger and bigger, but it seems like we all congregate into the same corner of the family room 80% of the time. And there is at least one room that we only use 1-2x a year (dining room), and one room that is just a place to collect clutter. The only person who uses every room, every day is my cat, whose naps follow the sun.
I’m a stay at home parent and I can’t imagine entertaining once or twice a month either ???? it sounds like such a chore.
Introverts, keeping people at a (physical) distance since the dawn of civilization! ????
Mary Fisher says
I agree with you so much, and also agree about the open shelving trend, but I do like the semi-open set-up we have now. It basically means that a good-sized wall section is in the middle, between the living room and kitchen. So from the living room I can see most of the dining room but only the regular sized door into the kitchen. There is no wall between the kitchen and dining room, but a small island to one side (that I made by attaching part of a small painted door to the top of a dresser, and putting stools around it). I don’t use the island for food prep but for a bit of a divider (I have antique looking lights hanging above it) and extra seating. I do entertain informally about once a month but do the food in advance usually. And being a natural slacker, I usually let everyone serve themselves buffet-style from the kitchen. I don’t stress about the dishes, but sometimes after a large party, friends or family do help clean up. The open concept really is for informal, relaxed entertaining and so some mess is expected. However, the only time I cook in front of other people is when we are assembling a meal together – when extended family comes in for Thanksgiving. And even then most of it is done ahead of time. I don’t care how big your kitchen is, if there is only one stove, fridge and sink, multiple cooks will have to dance around each other if they’re cooking at the same time. Can be fun with the right attitudes, though.
Mary Fisher says
Also, we have no tv in the living room, that is downstairs in the family room/man cave.
Ms. Kim says
I’m the messy kitchen type and had reservations about letting all see it. But I did once have a home with a counter space lower than the counter top the boys or friends sat at to eat. But you could still look across it to the stove and the sink. When we were in California the kitchen was at an angle and slightly more closed off. As for open shelving, we happened to have gorgeous Villeroy & Boche Intarsia (german made dishwasher and microwave safe but with Italian Renaissance designs). Wish we had had open shelving for that. But the few times we used, we served in the dining room and they wouldn’t have seen the open shelves anyway.
My house is a hybrid. Open living room/kitchen, regular dining room.
I don’t entertain, and if I did, it would happen in the kitchen or living room. I’m not fancy, and also I don’t like crowds. I’m looking to turn my dining room into a library/den. A comfy couch, floor to ceiling bookcases, a nice chair. NO TV (I don’t want to encourage use by others) – just a quiet place to read, nap, listen to music.
The trouble with the open floor plan is that you have to keep both rooms clean if you want to use them for entertaining. Also if you burn anything or make stinky food, it smells in both rooms. But it is nice to be able to converse while you cook/eat.
LOLOLOL. So many truths in this blog! Thanks for sharing.
Love the open plan….But I also am not fussed by clutter, my nose is not sensitive, and I like to watch video games (not play then so much).
So in effect we live in 300 square feet of the 3000 sf house !
I have a VERY open plan and love it. I have small children and it’s great. I don’t know a 3yo who would play on her own letting mom cook in the other room. Open plan means I can supervise, while kids can see me any time.
On a rare occasion I invite friends over I want to have at least half things ready anyway so I don’t waste time cooking. Salad is usually left for the end and others would seat on the other side of the island sharing a glass of wine with me while I chop. Then I put everything away into the huge sink that can hide an elephant.
I love that the kitchen must be spotless every night. It means I never wake up to a mess. So in my mind its a plus
Erin S. Burns says
My husband and I actually knocked out walls in our house to create open concept where there was none. But we have no kids. And isn’t for entertaining, it is for being able to watch the games while cooking. But, we actually don’t mind when we do have company letting them chat at us or watch us cook. And it is funny but what people always say of us is that watching us cook together is like a dance or a ballet, and people who don’t get why we are together finally do get it when they see us cook together…so there is that. Tandem cooking is probably our love language to be fair. Plus I give no flying flippities if the kitchen is a mess while we are eating, or ever really. We are busy and exhausted and so if we invite you into our home to socialize, you can either like us enough not to mind our mess, or you can decide we are not your cup of tea.
MORE SPACE! I don’t care what setup my kitchen is (though I prefer open due to the reasons you listed re: young children), I just want more counter and storage space. I’ve run out of space and have been storing two woks, two cast iron pans, and a couple of baking dishes/pans in the oven. The rest of my appliances (slow cooker, ice cream machine, bread machine, assortment of blenders/handheld mixers, kitchenaid) are stored in the dining room cabinet.
Deuce inconvenient if you ask me.
The rice cooker (I’m Chinese Am), instant pot, bread toaster, and 2 coffee machines (keurig and drip because my husband is crazy) have permanent residence on the counter.
I’m currently in the process of exchanging my enormous convection oven/microwave that I’ve never used as an oven for a smaller microwave because my new air fryer > everything. I highly recommend getting one if you don’t already have one. I opened and examined every air fryer I’ve come across for months until I finally found one that’s stainless steel inside because I’m anal about heating up plastic. (Kalorik 5.3-qt Digital Stainless Steel Air Fryer) This shit is fucking amazing. There’s no preheating. I cook everything in it: panko chicken from scratch, quinoa cakes from scratch, homemade sweet potato fries, chicken nuggets from Costco, taquitos from Costco, dumplings/wontons/spring rolls from Costco, cauliflower tots and cauliflower pizza rolls — Costco as well. It also cuts bake time by more than half for me because I don’t own a fancy convection oven and it took like 4-5 mins to make bread pudding. It’s too small to bake a cake or pie in but my niece will probably start making her lava cakes in a mug soon in it lol but its claim to fame has to be PERFECTLY CRISPY BACON!! I cooked almost an entire pack (thick cut) in it on 400 for under 8 (possibly 6) mins. The best part? The grease drains from the basket into the base as you cook, making everything crazy healthy. My only gripe is the size. Maybe my range will finally give out (one of the burners is fucked up) and I’ll get to buy a convection oven. But until then, this air fryer is Queen.
I don’t really have an open plan (my house was built in 1964 and they didn’t do that back then) but I have what I consider a good compromise: an “eat-in” kitchen. It’s pretty big (I have 35 LF of countertop space; yes, I know you are green with envy but it all collects clutter like you wouldn’t believe) and there’s an area on one end where my kitchen table seats 6. If you want to socialize while cooking, that’s where you sit with your drink and talk to me. There’s a cased opening from there to the living room, so if you’re at the table you have access to the person in the kitchen and the TV/people in the living room. I like it, and it worked pretty good when my children were small, too. Not a big fan of open plan. In addition to the reasons everyone already mentioned, it actually costs more to heat/cool than a house where you can close off some rooms.
You are hilarious and I personally agree with everything you said….except my brother and sister in law are the constant entertainers. They have people over ever weekend and volunteer their home for work parties, throw annual xmas, easter and summer kickoff parties in addition. Their lives are exhausting….but pretty. Sis in law always needs help the day before as she scrambles through meal prep so day of its just finished dishes that need to be baked in gorgeous cermaic containers. So everything is clean and perfext and she is just refilling appetizers while my brother is in charge of drinks.
I wonder what extroverts get out of entertaining… Is it like a high? Personally, I can’t imagine anything worth the anxiety of having to socialize in my home where I can’t just leave week after week after week…
Melissa Tomlin says
My home is older (built in the 80s) and it has lots of walls, but It has an open Dining room /living room with the kitchen a simple galley kitchen and no drawers /countertop. I love to cook which means I am driven crazy by being limited in my counter space, but I don’t want people to see my kitchen either. I think for me A kitchen ‘redo would include a reworking of the entire kitchen. (They have a breakfast nook, that put the table in front of the window and the sink before a wall…Sinks belong looking at the back yard.) However, I think the “dining room/living room//Kitchen/den combo would be a nice “semi-open space”
Yes! Well. Yes to open floor plans being the stupidest things EVER. My friend is a fan and we squabble about it all the time. Or we did, until she bought an open floor plan house and now she has had to admit that I’m right. I was hard for her.
But, I do entertain. I have my darling daughter’s friends and parents over for play dates/food regularly. I have a girl group who comes over for dinner periodically. I have friends in for the weekend several time a year. It adds up.
You make valid points about open floor plans. We now live in a small condo with such a beast, and it works here because of the size of our place. But before condo living, no matter what kind of kitchen/dining/living room set up we had, people always congregated in the kitchen. They lean on the counter, sit at the table, or wander in and out to add to the conversation going on. I gave up years ago trying to hide my mess. I now often put my guests to work. I guess it is a country thing, I grew up in ranching country in Northern California, and my family had a ranch in Eastern Oregon. Most of our entertaining was pot lucks. So I guess my point is for us an open floor plan would have made crowd control around the cooking easier.
In theory I love the open concept. On tv, on ads, even when I dream shop on Zillow. But I had it once and it was awful. Everyone can see everything, hear it all, and god help you if you burn popcorn or something because that stench goes everywhere in a matter of minutes. Just…not fun.
P.S. I love that you said “fight me in the comments.” I just had this image of you holding that big a** knife saying that and I snorted Diet Dr. Pepper up my nose. 🙂
Richard Cartwright says
Ilona, I blame all the HGTV shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Love it or List It, etc for the open concept kitchen. You and Gordon should at the very least mock HGTV in either Hidden Legacy or perhaps a Kate short story. Not sure how you kill them without questions being asked. On legal letterhead. 🙂
I tend to gravitate toward old houses (Victorian and Craftsman Bungalow) that have large rooms, large archways between rooms and pocket doors with glass panes. Gives me some view of other rooms but not in my face. Kitchen is a separate room but also has space to park people on folding chairs and chat while I’m cooking/prepping. I need the feeling of space but cannot abide a totally open floor plan. For all the reasons others voiced…
I also don’t get people who are entertainment junkies. They amaze me and it gives me the creeps at the same time. My day job has me interacting with people all day long (Human Resources) and people actually think I’m quite extroverted. But, that’s my job and I’m good at it. When I come home, I need to recharge the batteries and do not want to have to be ‘on’. I don’t actually want to see what anyone else is doing. Closet Introvert here.
Also, if I’m hosting a party the only part I like is the advance prep work. During the party I’m freaking that I should be a better hostess or something, so I run around like a chicken with its head cut off, counting the minutes until the damn thing is over. As a result, I maybe host a family event once a year. Pathetic.
Totally enjoyed everyone’s comments and thoughts!
Grace Draven says
As you’ve seen my kitchen destroyed after a meal we’ve shared together – and Patrick and I have put you and Gordon to work helping us prepare it – you know we consider you friends and not too worried you’ll toss us to the curb because I didn’t immediately jump on the task of loading the dishwasher. 😀 Stay friends with us a little longer and after a while I’ll just shove the pile of clean laundry to one side of the couch so you can have room to sit. ;-D
That being said, I’m one of those who isn’t a fan of the open floor plan. I like having my kitchen separate and away from the main activity of the house.
Having never had shelves before I have to say that I had never thought about the challenge of getting grease on the dishes. That’s a really good point! At the same time, I think that shelves are usually associated with a sort of minimalism, so people who have them are probably washing all of their dishes every few days anyway :). We wash our dishes 3 times a day because we’d rather wash the same dish 3 times than wash 3x as many dishes at the end of the day and have them not fit in the sink and spill all over the counters… usually. Sometimes I just wish I had 20 plates because I start to hate that one plate. To each his own. ;). I think to some degree your kitchen has to fit your way of doing things. I wish I had a shelf for my plates, cups, and bowls because I take them out so often that I get tired of opening and closing the cabinet door. On the other hand, I would hate having to put baking pans on a shelf… they’d just look bad and occasionally fall off.
Open floor plans. I’ve been sort of enamored with open floor plans for some time, so I’m relieved that I got this perspective before we got the chance to buy a house!
Having always lived in small apartments during my adult life I really like semi-open floor plans. The difference is in the discerning separations. If it’s too open furniture feels like it’s “in-the-way” and it’s hard to use some of the central space. Also furniture in an open floor plan stands out more, so when you’re couch is cheap and crummy it’s more noticeable. You need to use less furniture, which can be great or awful depending on the particulars. I like being able to see the living room from the kitchen, but I also like a wall obscuring the view of the kitchen counters from the living room and dining room (they’re both on the same side of the kitchen so that’s easy). Our living room and dining room are almost joint, except for a short rib-high-wall that makes the dining room feel like it’s own space without making it hard to move from one room to another. That’s great. But he dining room is also carpeted. Why?
One apartment had that same transparency problem you’re describing in the kitchen. Half of a long counter served as a table between the kitchen and living room. That was nice because I could hide in the other half of the kitchen if I wanted to but it felt crowded when we sat down and my kitchen sink was fully visible from the living room… like goldfish poop in a glass bowl. It inspired me to learn to clean as I went better, but it was also exhausting. I was mostly glad for it at the time because it gave me the visibility I needed for small children, but I wouldn’t want it long-term.
So in summary I agree that a fully open floor plan is just too much disclosure, but I’ve mostly liked semi-open in 3 different apartments and am still a fan of that overall. It sort of sections off space without using many doors, so the floor level plan is somewhat similar to closed, but at the ceiling level it’s just shy of open concept. I think a few carefully located shelves could be great (drying rack over the sink, shelf near the sink, but not near the stove or griddle), but too many shelves sound like too much transparency again and not enough protection. Who wants to show off their stack of left-over container lids anyway? 🙂
We have an open plan and we love it. There’s almost nothing worse to me than 1) nasty food-stuck-on dishes either left out to dry and stick harder or left in a sink of warm water that eventually turns cold and chunky or 2) washing dishes solo in the other room when my loved ones are having fun without me. We have also simplified food prep for gatherings so that we have less clean up at the end, which helps. Most of our friends and family also pitch in for cleanup at the end of any evening, which also helps. If you’re friends or family are offering unsolicited advice on your tomato-cutting skills maybe it’s a time for a conversation about boundaries? ????