The Open Kitchen Concept: The Beginning Backlash

Look around any new home or one that went through home improvement and you’re likely to see one thing they all have in common: the open kitchen. The trend has been overwhelmingly embraced by homeowners across the country, along with architects, designers and folks on every home makeover TV show. The open kitchen is probably the single largest and most widely embraced home design change over the past 50 years. However, some architecture aficionados and homeowners are opening up about their total disgust with the open kitchen design. Even home improvement magazines and online DIY project sites are now slamming the open concept in an anti-open kitchen campaign called “Close Your Open-Concept Kitchen.”

They call the trend a “baneful scourge” that has spread through American homes like “black mold through a flooded basement.” The bottom line always echoed through the anti-open-kitchen movement is that we have walls and doors for a reason. While open-kitchen lovers champion the ease of multitasking cooking and entertainment and appreciate how the cook can keep an eye on the kids or an eye on a favorite TV show, the haters reply that open kitchens do neither effectively. Instead, open kitchens leave guests with an eyeful of kitchen mess, distract cooks, and leaves parents with no place to hide from their noisy brood. In short, the open kitchen destroys coveted privacy.

With an open-kitchen design, there’s no way to get away from what other people in the family are doing. In the old days before the open kitchen concept, children were care for properly away from the kitchen. When the kids grew older, the parents could escape to the kitchen while the kids watched teen TV shows. A kitchen that is constantly on display could cause more stress. When you see a kitchen, you can’t relax. The impulse is to keep cleaning the kitchen even if it’s already clean.  Still, open kitchens are winning over a majority of the population. Even those with closed kitchens are converting. A whopping 77 percent of home remodelers are grabbing a sledgehammer and knocking down the walls. Open kitchens have gained such momentum because the kitchen is often the heart of family existence and a central gathering point.

The idea that the kitchen and dining room are separate and a woman magically brings food out on a platter is a thing of the past. When designing a kitchen, people should go back and think about the kitchen they grew up in. It’s also important to consider colors, configuration, and lighting to create the kitchen based on their highest positive associations with that place. Sometimes, it’s helpful to consider the family personality over aesthetics. If the kitchen is for a family of extroverts that is more informal or likes to entertain, an open kitchen might work. If the kitchen is for a family of introverts who like a smaller, self-contained, cozier room, there’s nothing wrong with a closed kitchen.