The Evolution of Formal Rooms to Open Concept

Deep into the process of downsizing my home of 29 years has me accessing how it has evolved. The living room was never used because of the family room. The formal dining room, used maybe twice a year, was cramped which lead to switching the rooms for a more comfortable experience.

Eventually the living room became my office, making the most of the space off the kitchen. No matter how many rooms were available, when entertaining, no one left the kitchen.

My new home is open concept. Most of my furniture and collected items are not moving with me. The vision of what my next chapter looks like will make good use of the whole house. Why hold onto to something that is only going to be stored away unused?

Size of home and point of life are important factors. Here are some thoughts on the subject.

From families with young children

In this season of life, we have a home for living, not for showing. At some point we will have a home to entertain, throw extravagant dinner parties and sit for tea. Right now we have four young children. The time for living amongst their needs and helping them to thrive and enjoy their childhood means our home needs to reflect that. We have a playroom instead of a den; we have a cozy living room with baskets of blankets pillows and children’s books instead of a formal living room. We opened up a wall to have a large eat-in-kitchen and got rid of the dining room. Our home is one of function, nor form. Maybe one day. But this is our season, and it’s so short. –Rachel Neuhaus

I’m more of a minimalist, I don’t like things that aren’t useful so for rooms to exist that are seldom used are a waste. I like the European model, which has one sitting room for everything. –Monika Vokoun

From the empty nesters

The kitchen is the heart of the home where everyone gathers. Photo credit: Steve Belner, Photovisions

My house had a formal living and dining room and a family room. We used the formal dining room for family holidays, but I easily could have done without it. The formal living room was used so little that I moved my art studio from the basement into that unused space.–Debbie Littlejohn

A dining room, used infrequently is a waste of space, a relic of the past. Better use of space would be a much larger kitchen, whether for sitting down and eating or for the social interactions that comes with the preparation of food…a place to bring everybody together all the time. –Keith Roddey

Downsized to no formal living room and casual dining room. Done with my “museum rooms”! –Aggie Kelton

A house is for living and eating is required for living. I would prefer open plan with one living space – kitchen, dining and living. In my home when I am in the kitchen, I am missing the party. –Elisabeth Mansfield

From the Realtors of Wright Bros. Real Estate

The kitchen with a peek into the original dining room, turned living room, turned home office for many years making better use of the space. Photo credit: Steve Belner, Photovisions
The kitchen with a peek into the original dining room, turned living room, turned home office for many years making better use of the space. Photo credit: Steve Belner, Photovisions

I find the buying public thinks that they want open living space, and in some cases they do but the home needs to be very specific. We have sold all of our new construction homes that do have open living space, however there were many who said, “Where’s the dining room? Where’s the living room?” –Russ Woolley

Many consider the kitchen, to be the heart of the home. Why separate it from everyone else by creating walls and a formal dining and living room? Most use each less than 5 times a year or even less. –Diane Mitchell

One common thread is to be present without distractions. Shut off the electronics and enjoy your time together whether in a formal space or a casual gathering, be present. Time is precious and a shared experience with family and friends is priceless.  Memories are easier to pack up and move than stuff.