Closed vs. open plan layouts: The pros and cons

The floor plan is an important part of any home, influencing everything from how your interior functions to where you spend your time. If you’re weighing up the benefits of closed and open plan layouts, use our lists of pros and cons to help you decide which will fit your lifestyle.

What is closed plan?

Closed plan layouts are more traditional, rooms are kept separate and have a distinctive identity with more personal space. As we’ll see, this layout is particularly well suited to characterful older properties as it’s easier to retain existing features, but also works well in modern homes with lots of tech.

What is open plan?

On the other hand, open plan living is the idea of having one continuous light and airy space, without doors or walls acting as barriers and dividing your home. It really skyrocketed in popularity in the 1970s, as people wanted to bring a sense of community to their homes. Kitchen-diner-living rooms were the answer and have been a regular feature in homes for decades.

The pros of closed plan

Able to switch off

Having separate rooms, for instance a separate home office, means you can switch off from work and relax at home more easily. More people are repurposing guest rooms to make space for home offices, or to create a space for hobbies, whether it is art, exercise or a new skill they have learnt. You can also shut the door on any mess or clutter that you haven’t had a chance to tidy yet, giving you a chance to unwind.

Style different areas of the house

Having separate rooms gives you the opportunity to be really creative with your interior design. You can go for bolder colours, or make a feature of some rooms with standout wallpaper. There is no need for matching paint or a coherent style across the whole layout, each room can have its own distinctive style, with unique furniture and accessories.

More privacy

Closed room layouts provide you with much more privacy than open plan, which is particularly beneficial if you are working from home.

It’s quieter

Separate rooms are nice to relax in, as they have a warm, cottage-like feel. It is also much quieter, especially if lots of tech is used in your household!

Reduce smells

Being able to close doors to your kitchen will prevent smoke from travelling around the house and lingering dinner smells in your living area, making it a much more pleasant environment to relax in.

Cheaper to heat

Not all of your rooms will be as well used as others in your home, closed plan means you can heat the rooms that you use regularly and lower the thermostat, or switch off the heating in unused rooms, helping to save money on your energy bills.

Space for storage

With closed plan layouts there are plenty of nooks and crannies that can be used for storage. Furniture can be pushed up against the walls to make full use of the space.

The cons of closed plan

Feel disconnected

It is easy to feel cut off and disconnected if everyone is in their own rooms, as you spend less time together. Separate rooms also make it harder to entertain and socialise.

Darker rooms

With closed plan layouts, less natural light is shared between rooms, making them feel smaller and more compact. Some rooms may be left without a window and hallways in particular become darker spaces.

Fixed room purpose

Closed rooms are less fluid and multifunctional than open plan spaces, they tend to serve a fixed purpose and it is not as easy to reconfigure the furniture or change why the space is being used.

The pros of open plan

Social space

Open plan layouts are really social spaces, it is easier to entertain and communicate, as everyone is connected in the same space. You don’t have to shout through walls or have one person left in the kitchen whilst everyone enjoys themselves – making it much easier for conversations to flow and a good time to be had!

Adds value

Although the footprint of the property may not differ greatly with open or closed plan layouts, when you walk into an open plan layout it really gives you a feeling of expansive space, which is highly desirable and adds value to your property.

Better light

Open plan layouts create light bright airy spaces. By removing walls that may have acted like a barrier and blocked light in closed room layouts, the light is increased around the property. This works well if there is a room without a window, as natural light is shared across the space and resolves any light issues. Extending the space into a glass conservatory or adding a skylight can all help to lighten up the space.

Showcases popular trends

Minimalism is a big interior design trend for 2022; the feeling of space created with minimalist interiors is shown off well in an open plan layout.

Sustainability is another big trend for this year, with lots of reclaimed glass and round mirrors being used to increase light, which fits perfectly in a bright open plan layout.

Ideal for smaller living spaces

Open plan layouts work really well for smaller living spaces, as rather than having lots of smaller rooms, you create a larger space which is easier to move around.

Flexible layout

Open plan layouts give you almost a blank canvas of space, meaning you can easily reposition furniture and accessories to regularly refresh the look and feel of your space, so you continue to enjoy spending time there.

It is easy to zone areas and create multifunctional rooms, which have been increasing in popularity since the pandemic started, as people continue to adapt their space for home offices and gyms.

Family space

Open plan living is ideal for busy family life, as you can spend more time together. It makes it easier to keep an eye on the kids, as well as multitask. Depending on your family set up, that might mean preparing the dinner, whilst supervising homework, or keeping a watchful eye on your toddler. Open plan works well, no matter what your family dynamics are.

Indoor / outdoor living

By being able to see right down into the garden, you create a calm relaxing environment, as well as a bigger visual space. You can extend your living area towards the garden with a conservatory, or by adding garden furniture onto your patio, to promote indoor/outdoor living which is good for your well-being.

The cons of open plan

Design choices are limited

With open plan layouts, your eyes view the space as a whole, so you want a coherent interior design style that works well together.

In an open-style kitchen, your appliances, cabinets, lights and paint colours are visible from other parts of the house, so they need to be chosen carefully. There is a need to think more about the wider space and what you want in it, so it doesn’t look mismatched and cluttered.

Changes the atmosphere

Whilst having an open space works well for many, you can lose character and that cosy feeling that comes with smaller, more intimate spaces.

Noise levels

With everyone using the same space, it can quickly become noisy, as there are no doors to limit the sound spreading. Disturbing each other will be an issue when lots of technology is being used at the same time, with people watching TV, listening to the radio, using the computer, playing video games or on the phone.

Often open plan layouts will have wooden floors, which doesn’t help to absorb the sound and just adds to the problem. One way to limit this issue is to add rugs and floor length curtains to help limit the sound from travelling.

Less privacy

This has become more of an issue during the pandemic, as everyone has spent much more time at home. With many people working from home, there has been a blur between work and home life. Now, there is more desire for a separate office space, to make work calls, or a separate personal space to switch off in.


Unfortunately, with fewer walls comes less storage space; it’s harder to store things out of sight or position furniture out of the way.

With an open plan kitchen, there is no out of sight, out of mind; it’s impossible to escape the view that there are dishes to wash, or mess that needs tidying.

Lingering smells

When cooking up a storm in an open plan kitchen, smells can linger around the entire space. No one wants the constant smell of kippers while they’re watching TV! Without doors to prevent its travel, the space can also quickly fill up with smoke, which can be hard to get rid of from soft furnishings.

More costly to heat

With energy bills continuing to rise, it’s worth considering that it is much more costly to heat a larger space than regulating the temperature of smaller rooms.

New emerging trend: Broken plan layouts

Broken plan has been emerging as a popular trend since the pandemic, as a practical alternative to open plan. So households can enjoy the space together but still have a sense of privacy without disturbing each other.

It is all about partly dividing rooms, using screens, half walls or changing levels within the home (adding mezzanines or lowering floors) to create different areas within the home. This helps to block some of the noise and can create a happy medium between closed and open plan living.

We hope this blog helps you decide whether closed or open plan layouts are right for you. Keep an eye on our blogs to find out more about broken plan layouts and how you could achieve it in your home.