Trends might come and go faster than you can swipe through design trends on TikTok, but the open floor plan versus closed room debate is seemingly endless. In the latest skirmish in the battle over open floor plans, HGTV’s Tarek and Heather Rae El Moussa stirred the pot in a joint post on their Instagram stories. “How do you feel about open floor plans?” The Flipping El Moussas stars asked in a recent poll, which the duo posted alongside a picture of themselves reviewing some renovation fans.
While there was a clear stance amongst her 3.2 million followers—88 percent of respondents thought open floor plans would stay popular while 12 percent predicted they’ll look outdated—interior designers are torn on the layout’s lasting power.
Some industry insiders, such as Linda Hayslett, are on-board with the ever-enduring open floor plan. “It gives you more flexibility in terms of what you want the space to be,” the Los Angeles designer explains. “It also allows for change in the space depending on how a person or family’s lifestyle changes.” Brelan Owen of The Owen Group agrees, noting an open and airy area is particularly good for families and for hosts who love to entertain and facilitate mingling among their guests.
That said, not everyone’s on board with these expansive, multi-purpose places. “I wouldn’t say I’m against open floor plans; they certainly have their place,” Houston-based designer Katie Davis concedes. “But we prefer defined spaces and a more traditional layout. A space that’s too open can be cavernous.” Separate, sectioned-off rooms, each with their own function managed are ideal for anyone who craves privacy—or wants to indulge their design creativity. After all, there are only so many colors and motifs one room can create.
Ultimately, the open versus closed floor plan is a matter of personal preference—or, if you live in a rental, what your space allows. But for those with a choice, perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle. “I wouldn’t say we are ‘anti’ open plan at all, it’s great for entertaining and for families with kids,” say Aileen Warren, who, together with Kiley Jackson makes up the decorating duo Jackson Warren Interiors. “But, sometimes, plans can be too open without any delineation between spaces.” Both Warren and Jackson recommend upholstered screens to break up an open floor plan and create a bit of privacy.
Meanwhile, if you have an open floor plan, Owen suggests treating every area or vignette like its own room. She explains: “That will help to keep the spaces within the larger space functional, while still letting the room feel open.”
Kelsey Mulvey is a freelance lifestyle journalist, who covers shopping and deals for Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and ELLE Decor, among others. Her hobbies include themed spinning classes, Netflix, and nachos.