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Open space homes are great, but real estate trends show a return to older form getting popular: Homeowners are wanting a kitchen separate from the entertaining/dining area.

As someone who’s done a lot of entertaining in the past, there’s a lot to like about open configurations, but the reality is, it also adds a lot of stress if things don’t go exactly to plan.

small kitchen living room sofa dining room wood floor

I can appreciate this trend of returning to separated kitchens from another perspective too — I’m self-employed. If I had to have clients or colleagues over, having an open living/cooking/dining space would really ramp up the stress of things. Being able to close the door on a messy cooking space and hide your shame is a wildly wonderful option.

Home designers often seem a little out of touch with the reality of living in a space. Some show every bit of dirt, others hide it too well. (No such thing, you might think, until you’re cooking in a space you thought was clean, like my camouflaged kitchen I had last time around. Oh, food poisoning, you’re no fun at all!)

Open designs work great for parents and families. Being able to cook and watch the kids in the living room at the same time obviously has a lot of appeal. For the rest of us, though, we’re learning that tucking the kitchen away leads to some better balance in life. Why is that?

Out of sight, out of mind

Sure, being a tidy, proactive chef is a beautiful thing, but for most of us, just cooking a healthy homemade meal is a daily high-point in behaving like an adult.

It’d be nice to go veg out on the couch with a meal, catch up on Netflix, and ignore the dishes. It’s a lot harder to ignore them if there’s no wall blocking your view.

A place for everything

We’ve been brainwashed into the “life is better with fewer walls!” mentality. Sometimes, it’s true. Sometimes, it’s not.

Consider your lifestyle, how much time you spend at home, how much you entertain, how tidy you are, whether you have kids, your furniture size/scale/shape, and much more. All these factors should help you figure out of the mythical open, airy, Zen space is something that can even transfer to your life. Maybe it’s not even feasible.

There’s nothing wrong with preferring your space to have clearly delineated zones. Especially when it comes to kitchens!

If your living/dining space is a mishmash of furniture, overlapping purposes, and more, throwing open the kitchen design into that mix is chaos, and why should you have to break your back trying to make it work?

Cohesive spaces get expensive

The bigger, more open your space is, with less division, the more everything needs to work well together. Homogenizing your tastes so it plays on a solid theme throughout the joined spaced can mean putting out a lot more cash than you initially expect. It’s a lot of work and focus for some of us to attain that kind of homogenized Zen in a space.

Matching or not, it’s simple to break up your themes and create separate spaces.

But it’s your life

There are pluses to both sides of the kitchen equation, and it ultimately comes down to you. I’m a disaster in the kitchen — my cartoon doppelganger would be the Tasmanian Devil. I’ll never have an open kitchen.

When my kitchen is its own entity, and I can crash and bang a bit, ignore dishes, and cook without as much concern about being perfectly clean and orderly as I go.  If I had kids and a husband who liked to clean, that choice would flip and I’d get an open floor plan so the family was together, if spread out a bit.

Either way, this trend is good news for homebuyers and homesellers — you can relax about the size or openness of your kitchen. There’s a market for all kinds of kitchens, provided it’s in good shape and has a smart layout.

If you’re thinking of switching to a closed-off kitchen, have no fear — for every item you sacrifice, there’s a perk you’ll gain instead.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.