Closed Floor Plans

I’d like to take a moment to speak in favor of the lesser known closed floor plan.

While the Gaineses rule the world, eliminating one non-load-bearing wall after another, we cheerfully survive in a smallish house stuffed full of walls. And what’s more, we’ve added back doors!

How can this be? We want to promote family togetherness through maximizing shared space BUT

  • J is a night owl and we are a young family
  • At least two of us are introverts

What’s more, “If Dwell Magazine ruled the world, our homes would be one big open warehouse, and then I’d have to be tidy.” (via) I’ve lived the open floor plan, most notably in a beautifully sunlit, impossible-to-keep-clean pool house, and I prefer my dim warren any day.

Cottontail Cottage is a small Craftsman built in 1940, decades before the trend of open living. Our many small rooms allow us to parcel up space more efficiently. We once had a lecture in the living room while behind two doors a half dozen small children romped. And while I was pregnant, J could often have friends over to visit in the evening while I slept undisturbed, two doors away, upstairs.

There are also concerns about open floor plans I had never considered. Apparently, open floor plans have also intensified home fires. And I have anosmia, as we’ve discussed, so I’ve never had to contend with the permeating odor of the kitchen wafting throughout an open living space, but apparently that’s a thing, too. (To be fair, we don’t currently have the door between our kitchen and dining room up, but you never know–maybe someday!)

The only time we really feel the inconvenience of this set up is when we are entertaining more people than can comfortably fit into one smallish room. But so you mingle! And that’s only a few nights out of the year–for family life, this set up suits our everyday life much better.

What is your house like? What do you prefer? Would you ever take out walls or add doors?

8 thoughts on “Closed Floor Plans

  1. I think closed floor plans make a home feel larger and cozier all at once…you get the feel of being in different rooms. But I find open plans convenient for cooking with little ones around, which is basically my whole life. And for the nebulous “entertaining”.


  2. Yeeesss!! We live in a small closed floor plan house with four kiddos and we’ve had this discussion a lot. I might like it if our house was a bit more open, but the full open floor plan would give me hives. You can see the clutter in one room from every angle? No thank you. When my house gets out of control I like to clean one room, and then just to be in that room and chill until I have time to clean the rest. Closed floor plan for me

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  3. I do not want to be able to see my dishes piled up in my sink while I’m relaxing on the couch!!! I loooove the idea of open floor plan for making my teeny tiny living room seem bigger. But dishes. All of the dishes!


  4. Logan and I talk about this a lot. Our house is really old, and kind of like a shotgun style (narrow, goes way back), so it’s definitely closed. Logan always LOVES walking into a house with an open floor plan – so much space! – but we also agree that it’s nice to have the separation in our house. (And yeah, introvert here, so I love it.) It can get tight when we have a lot of people over…but then the kids can be playing in the playroom while the adults talk in the living room. We do have visions of knocking out walls in our downstairs, though, and I definitely got the inspiration from the Gaines! Ha.


    • Your house layout sounds exactly the way I expect an old house in the Deep South to be! And yeah, once we had a party and hired a babysitter to play with all the kids in the backroom while we had cocktails in the front 🙂


  5. Ok so my house is like the worst of both worlds. It’s probably a manifestation of architecture beginning to go bad around the early 1950s when it was built. It’s a split/tri-level in which all the bedrooms are not the upper floor, just the living room is the middle, and the kitchen, dining, and laundry are ground floor. So, there are very few doors, giving the “open floor” feel, but since the living spaces are separated it makes both daily living AND hosting super annoying. I can’t keep an eye on babies and toddlers while I’m cooking, meaning I have to dash upstairs if it sounds like the latter is attacking the former. Or, the littles are just making messes on every floor of the house, which we have no way to escape, as our living area is also their play area, and so is part of the downstairs so they can be occupied while I work in the kitchen. When guests come, it’s super awkward as they walk into our dining room, sort of longer and thenwe have to decide whether to “hang out” at the table downstairs or go up and sit in the living room. But that’s also where the kids are… Ugh. All to say, YES TO DOORS and old fashioned separated rooms!! At least now my husband and I definitely know what we want from our next home! A Pattern Language has also really helped us make sense of these ideas!!


    • Sounds so frustrating! One summer before kids we lived in a pool house where guests had to walk through our bedroom to get to the bathroom. And there was only one tiny closet!! At least that house wasn’t conceived as a permanent residence, but still. Sheesh!


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