It's not an open & shut case

It's not an open & shut case

Mixed Response

It's not an open & shut case

While open kitchens come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, it is our convenience that should rule our choice.

Look around any new or remodelled home 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 report in newspapers and magazines.

Open kitchen is probably the single largest and the most widely embraced home design change over the past decade.

But some architecture aficionados the world over are opening up about their total disgust with the open kitchen design.

Unwelcome concept

J Bryan Lowder, an assistant editor at Slate, recently slammed the open concept in a widely read article called ‘Close your open concept kitchen’.

He called the trend a ‘baneful scourge’ that has spread through American homes like ‘black mould through a flooded basement’.

Lowder’s point, and one 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 favourite TV show), the haters reply that open kitchens do neither effectively.

Instead, the detractors say, open kitchens leave guests with an eyeful of kitchen mess, distract cooks, and leave Mom and Dad with no place to hide from their noisy brood.

For Roxanne who is a blogger, 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,” she says. 

When her children were younger, they were always at her feet or near her, so she didn’t need an open design to watch them properly, she said.

Now that they’re older, she’s happy to escape to the kitchen to read or listen to music while they watch teen shows.

Also, for people who aren’t seasoned entertainers, open kitchens may not offer much help, Roxanne said. Rather, a kitchen that is constantly on display could cause more stress.

“If I can see my kitchen all the time, I can’t relax, I feel. When someone walks in the kitchen, I’ll impulsively start wiping down the counter, even if it’s already clean. An open kitchen is very impressive looking – but it really depends on how you’re living!”

Newfound enthusiasm

However for those who have joined the open kitchen bandwagon late, these kitchens are still a hit.

Even some renovators with closed kitchens are converting.

A whopping 77 per cent of home remodellers are grabbing a sledgehammer and knocking down the walls, according to a recent survey.

One author of Some Place like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places said open kitchens have gained such momentum because the kitchen is often the heart of family existence and a central gathering point.

“No longer is the woman’s place in the kitchen, and entertaining overall has become more informal,” one designer said. “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.”

In our country, we no longer have the luxury of a cook. Homemakers necessarily have to cook meals or heat catered food. Cooking is often a family affair and open kitchens then become the norm.

But ultimately, because the kitchen is such a big part of life at home, its design should really depend on the individual family, and not necessarily on the most popular trend.

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.”

Thus, the decision to open up a kitchen is not just an open and shut case!


Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox