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Flying in the face of nearly two decades of architectural thought in the residential space —the new residential building trend is moving away from open floor plans. Architect Nicholas Potts at SHoP Architects, a Washington, D.C. firm doing high-rise condos, says gone are the days when the whole residence should flow together.

Hide those dirty dishes!

“Not having to be exposed to tasks you must attend to is probably the most calming thing a person can do,” Potts said. “Maybe it’s a post-pandemic thing, but nobody wants an open kitchen. They want light and spaciousness, but no one wants a mess. It’s more calming, frankly, to have definition and to be able to remove yourself from a room where somebody might be on a video conference, or where you just made lunch but don’t want to do the dishes yet.”

Evidently, new home builders now want sectioned rooms. Sealing the kitchen from the living room with a door and wall. gives an impression of proper proportions. Residents can more easily furnish the living room, “now cocoon-like,” Potts says. “Thus, what is old is new again.”

Just an HGTV hook?

According to Potts, The HGTV effect drives the perpetuation of the open concept. When you’re producing a half-hour TV program, you need to do something dramatic to a house. “People like to see sledgehammers,” he says, “that moment of demolition is in the formula for TV.”

A realtor’s trick to make a small space look large also comes into play. An open plan looks more expansive because of the deception of having no furniture or walls. But “once you start putting in your couches, installing your TV and hanging your art, the whole mirage dissipates.”

Defined spaces create calmness

Potts concludes that we need order in our lives. “The beauty of well-designed spaces is that they frame views, and they make you feel like you’re part of something that’s ordered, rational, calming, and peaceful. You need to define spaces to do that.”

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