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Could the Open Floor Plan Be in Jeopardy?

The rise of remote work is prompting more households to reconsider the popular open floor plan. Some of the common complaints brewing include poor sound quality and echoes, lackluster lighting, lingering cooking smells, and a lack of private spaces for video calls.

Open floor plans have dominated real estate over the past few decades. The great room in an open floor plan combines the family room, dining room, and kitchen into one giant space. But as entire families scrambled to work and school from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, they've found it difficult to concentrate in these open spaces. Now some homeowners are calling for the walls to come back.

“Our homes will change post - COVID-19,” Bret Parsons, a real estate professional in Beverly Hills, Calif., and founder of the architectural division at Compass, told®. “This pandemic is hardly just an annoyance, but rather a significant lifestyle change. I predict the pendulum moving back to more traditional homes, with segmented rooms for multiple uses, including office suites, an exercise room, and a separate en suite for multi-generational living. Who wants [parents] in a care facility anymore?”

Regardless of a potential evolution in preferences, homes with open floor plans are still selling. But Parsons predicts owners will explore walling off certain spaces. Pocket doors can be one solution, as can zoning certain sections for work areas.

However, not all real estate pros believe this is the death of the open floor plan. “I completely disagree with the great room being a thing of the past, and I don’t foresee a major correction for the open-plan home beyond the pandemic,” Sven Simon, a real estate professional with Swell Property in the San Diego area, told®. “The open floor plan mostly relates to the kitchen, dining room, and living room blending together into one large space to entertain, for a larger feel and natural light. Those are the public areas of the home. People changing their work habits will not change that.”

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Sources: Realtor Magazine, Will Working From Home Spell Doom for the Open Floor Plan?”® (June 10, 2020)

"Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission."

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