Good Walls Make Good Cohabitants

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    “Floor-to-ceiling partitions” … a little wordy, but I imagine the design world will soon come up with a single pithy word. Probably a retro word. I’m hearing “walls” being used in various hipster cafe’s where young people are designing their first houses. Desperately attempting to avoid the experiences of their youth in messy echoing open floor plans.

    We have a smallish house with plenty of rooms which creates places for the children to go and read or study or chat (so too the parents)… though ironically the house is just a tad small and lacking at least one larger space so we’re contemplating taking down one of our precious floor-to-ceiling partitions to make one area better for larger gatherings. The moral? Too many or too few floor-to-ceiling partitions are probably a mistake. None of our friends with children are happy with their (too) open floor plans. YMMV.Report

  2. Avatar fillyjonk says:

    I think there’s a happy medium. I live in an older (small) house, built late 1940s. It’s about 1350 square feet, six rooms (not counting a small hall and the bathroom). But the living room is large (20′ by maybe 15′) and the room I use as my bedroom is similarly large.

    I have walls between these rooms and the other rooms in the house, but the house isn’t partitioned into a whole bunch of additional tiny rooms.

    I have been in more recently-built houses that are of a similar footprint, and they try to cram four bedrooms* and a separate ‘family room’ and ‘living room’ into that space, and you wind up with something that feels like a rabbit warren…couple that with the modern tendency here to only have very small windows (often the “eyebrow windows” high up on the wall, it’s done for energy-efficiency) and it’s just a depressing indoor space (at least to me).

    (*My house has two proper bedrooms, and a third smaller room (used to be a screened porch) off the room I use as a bedroom, which COULD presumably function as a nursery/v. small child’s bedroom. For an older child, it wouldn’t have enough privacy for them or the parents, if the parents used the main room. I use the room as a sewing room….I have my bedroom, a guest bedroom/office/storage space, and then the sewing room. (In addition to living room, dining room, kitchen – which is too small for my liking – and bathroom. And a small hall)

    I live alone and confess that if I were to start cohabiting with someone I’d probably want to move because the house can seem kind of small at times. And I do have a lot of stuff for one person (books and craft supplies).

    I would find a totally open-plan space somewhat creepy, especially at night. I need to be able to close a door on the rest of the house when I sleep.Report

  3. So my home is “open concept” I guess, when it was remodeled the builder removed 7 different walls to open it up. I like it. The bedroom/bathrooms/laundry area’s are separated by a looping hallway so for me it’s the right balance of open space and private living quarters. Everyone has their balance.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When we first got married, Our First Apartment had a door between the bathroom and the rest of the house. The bedroom was in the back (there was a doorway that had the door perpetually open because the bed was in the way if you opened the door so we tucked the door behind the bed), a kitchen/hallway, and a main floor that had a doorway but not a door in it.

    Our second apartment had a bedroom door that you could *CLOSE*.

    If you needed to be by yourself, you could shut the door. If you wanted to sleep when your significant other was playing computer or video games, you could shut the door. If you had guests over, you could say something like “Oh, we’re going out? I need to get changed! I’ll be right back” and go to the bedroom and SHUT THE DOOR and get changed.

    Seriously, we should have floor to ceiling manager-style cubicles in the house.Report

  5. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    The open plan thing isn’t really that new. Our house was built in 1926, two bedrooms and a bath added 1940ish and a family room in the back added 1960ish. There is a doorway between the kitchen and dining room but no door, although I’m sure there was at one time. Another doorway between kitchen/family room that was likely originally an outside door. The dining room is visually separated from the living room by a wide archway. So at this point the family room, kitchen, dining room, living room, and hallway to the beds/bath is just one big space topologically. We’ve got doors where you need/want them, otherwise not.Report

  6. Avatar jason says:

    We lived in a house built for steelworkers in about 1910 or so. It was before the concept of hallways took off. on the left side of the house was the living room, dining room, and then a doorway into the large kitchen. The bathroom was accessed through the kitchen. On the right side were two rooms connected by doorways and a pantry-type room that also had the trap door to the basement. It was just my wife and I, but that would be a weird home to raise a family in.
    And the lack of insulation and gravity heater insured that it was an icebox in the winter.Report

  7. Avatar Maribou says:

    our house is a weird mix of tiny rooms (5: 3 bathrooms, laundry room, office, all tiny), normal-ish sized rooms with peaked ceilings that vary between 3 and 14 ft (2), and giant open plan rooms (2, one of which has a 20 foot ceiling in part of it, but also a normal sized living room in part of it, and our tiny galley kitchen in another part of it, just to give you an idea of what I mean when I say giant – I think 1/3 of the floor plan is that one giantest of the two giant rooms. The other giant room is normal-ceilinged and kind of slanks along like a studio apartment would). There’s only one normal sized room with a normal height ceiling, and we use it for a dining room when we have people over, and otherwise rarely hang out in there.

    i like having the options. It’s unusual in a house of relatively modest size. (It’s built kinda weird? like it’s a squarish / octogonalish tower….)

    And honestly I think we do best having an entire FLOOR between us most of the time.

    Which we are incredibly fortunate to be able to have, which is part of the reason I sometimes make Jay put up with stuff like houseguests, even against my spousely intuition.

    At work we have an L-shaped open plan office but we are Very Very Choosy about who is part of our open plan :P. (Like, we pretty much drew a line in the sand saying ONLY OUR DEPARTMENT WE REFUSE TO SHARE ACROSS DEPTS). And we have a LOT of conveniently located cabinets or bookcases or counters to break up the space. And also we have a room for being private in when need be. Still I’d rather we had more walls. The old dept had 2 to an office which I found pretty ideal – we were in and out of each other’s offices all the time.

    When I start to think about open plan offices – especially in contexts like ours where it’s glaringly obvious what the hierarchy is from who has their own office or not, and how enormous it is or isn’t… – I always think about the 50s (or 90s!) and the secretary pool vs the Professionals who get their own secretaries who may or may not get their own office vs being out in a shared common area, and then I get annoyed. La plus ca change…Report

  8. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    I own a tri-level here in Nevada, and I love all the open space-as long as its broken up. Great Rooms are not my thing. Now all the upscale homes are floor to ceiling windows. The view the view, oh my goodness, the view Of our sherbet flavored desert sunsets.

    And the running costs for these homes are in between 4-700k.

    I’ll stick with my 8 ft windows that’s enough to clean anyways.Report

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