Open vs. Closed Kitchens — Which Style Works Best for You?

For centuries that the kitchen has been a workspace. Often tucked in the rear of the home, it had space for only the bare essentials. However, a peek at many new kitchens now shows a very different approach: the open-concept kitchen in the heart of the home.

“The kitchen was really a closed-off place for a long time,” states John Petrie, president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “Now people want the kitchen to become an active part of the family” Though open-concept kitchens are undoubtedly the more popular choice now, some homeowners are embracing elements of the past — specifically a different, more closed-off layout. Can we be changing back into the kitchens of yesteryear?

We asked three kitchen pros for their thoughts on the two kitchen fashions, and the way it is possible to decide which one is ideal for you.

Becki Peckham

How the Walls Came Down

Twenty years ago the term “cocooning” arose in the home design world. Home life shifted as individuals spent more time at home. “House was a safe place, a refuge and where you wanted to be,” says Petrie.

The need for a cocoon fueled the open-concept kitchen, allowing homeowners to invest more time with friends and family while cooking and cleaning. “Additionally, it showcased a shift to a more casual way of life,” states Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group. “People weren’t afraid to expose reality — i.e., a cluttered kitchen.”

“When the walls came down, the kitchen became an integral part of the home,” says Petrie. Kitchens shortly became the middle of the home — the room that everything else revolved around.

Today this layout has become the go-to kitchen design, particularly for families. The combined layout allows for optimum multitasking — parents can prepare dinner, and watch the news and help with homework at the exact same moment. “I am a massive open-concept-kitchen fan,” states Anthony Carrino of Brunelleschi Construction. “I find that the advantages far outweigh those of throwing the kitchen to another room. Ninety-nine percent of our clients request an open-concept kitchen.”

Lisa Benbow – Garnish Designs

The Case for a Closed Kitchen

The kitchen is already the most expensive space in the house to remodel, and turning a closed kitchen into an open program can increase the cost. Tearing down walls signifies coping with plumbing, electrical and structural work on a massive scale. Sometimes the added cost means compromising in other areas.

For homeowners who’d rather invest in other elements of their kitchen — appliances, materials or cabinetry — reworking the layout may not be worth it. “You have to think about what’s ideal for you,” says Petrie. When it comes to allocating your kitchen funding, which is more important, he inquires, “an efficient, functional kitchen with appliances that are better? Or an open layout that connects to the rest of your home?”

CARNEMARK design + build

Even though nearly all of Dixon’s clients request open-concept kitchens, some prefer a closed-off space. “There will always be some men and women who are uncomfortable with letting guests view their ‘unmentionables,'” she says. “It is definitely a more formal layout, but it finally comes down to personal preference.”

If you want to leave your smells and mess behind when serving meals, a closed layout could be for you.


“You can get creative with a closed kitchen, also,” states Carrino. If space allows, a little booth, fold-down dining table or rolling pub can make a closed kitchen more of a social space.

Michael Kelley Photography

Disadvantages of a Closed Layout

naturally, a closed-off kitchen isolation can also be its primary downfall. This layout does not allow for immediate access from the kitchen to the dining table, or vice versa. And it is difficult to interact with friends and family while whipping up dishes, since the majority of the room is reserved for the work triangle.

General Assembly

Choosing What’s ideal for You

There is no set formula which can inform you which kitchen layout will work better in your home. Part of getting a conversation using a designer is attempting to figure out what’s ideal for you. Start with a list of needs and wants, and go from there. “You’ve got to consider the way you reside in your home and the way you use your home,” states Carrino. “how can you use your kitchen? How do you foresee using your new kitchen?”

Everyone’s needs are different, so don’t let’s influence with tendencies. “A family with kids who need oversight might decide to do an open-concept plan using a large multifunctional island,” says Dixon. “However a couple who loves to entertain may decide on a closed-concept space so that they can prep classes beforehand and not spoil the surprise. It totally depends upon your lifestyle.”

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