Open floor plans or open-concept homes are common place today. Open-concept is what it sounds like: A child can be doing homework at the dining room table while one parent is in the kitchen and the other is in the living room while they are all within earshot and eyesight. It’s a large layout free from the obstruction of interior walls in the main living space. While it seems like a fairly obvious and desirable spatial plan for modern living, it’s a fairly new one in the history of homes. Up until the late 1800s, most main rooms in homes were closed off and entirely separate from each other.
Each room had a singular function and helped staff and servants who were responsible for carrying that function out. Entertaining, for instance, was done with the illusion that every course of a meal simply “appeared” as if by magic. Sequestered in the parlor or dining room, work in the kitchen was done out of view, out of mind. The initial designs for open-concept floor plans came from Greene and Greene out of Pasadena, CA in the 1890s and early 1900s. Post-war modern life changed the family dynamic in America–the use of home staff became less prominent and the role of family members stepped up. Frank Lloyd Wright took the ideas of Greene and Greene and created homes built with an active and loving family in mind–the new layout allowed the household to engage with one another while hosting, working or relaxing.
Not every home built after 1940 has an open floor plan but it’s one of the most sought-after layouts homeowners request when house hunting or renovating. We love the way this layout reflects a shift in the view of the home in the last century. Houses may have been run more like businesses before–built for impressing others by never lifting a finger–but now homes are places to retreat, to spend time with others and to truly make one’s own. 10 of our favorite open-concept layouts in almost every style from Design*Sponge tours can be found below. Enjoy! –Lauren