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8 Pros and Cons of Open Kitchens

Happy couple excited about their kitchen remodel and home improvement projects
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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.

Open kitchens have had their heyday, but some think the trend could be waning as people spend more time at home and with each other. The design offers fantastic opportunities for families to connect but can also be seen as lacking privacy and making it difficult to establish “zones” in the home.

So, how can you decide whether an open kitchen design is something that will work for you and your lifestyle? Check out this list of pros and cons to see what benefits and drawbacks open kitchens can have.

Pro: Increased Interaction

Couple cooking at home
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One of the biggest advantages of having an open kitchen is the ability to interact with family and guests during meal preparation. While traditionally, someone would have been tucked away in a closed kitchen to prep and cook, an open kitchen means no breaks in the conversation and an opportunity to socialize with everyone. By bringing the action into one space, no one’s missing out on the fun.

Pro: A Good View

Family eating a Thanksgiving meal
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If you have little ones, an open kitchen allows you to keep an eye on their activities while you make meals or clean up, ensuring that everyone’s on track and you don’t have to worry every time things get suspiciously quiet in the next room. An open kitchen offers opportunities for you to be involved in homework time, craft time, or just “tell me about your day” time, all while getting meals ready for the family.

Pro: More Light

woman looking at pantry ingredients
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Open kitchens allow more light to flood the space, thanks to fewer walls closing things in. It can brighten the space and make it feel even more open, airy, and cheerful. In addition, more natural light means the potential for fewer light fixtures being needed, so less energy consumption.

Pro: The Illusion of Space

Couple in a kitchen
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Even in a smaller home, an open kitchen will make the room seem less closed in and more spacious. Without the constraints of walls, you can push the kitchen out further or bring things in closer, helping you make the most of your space. An even more open design can be achieved with fewer heavy cupboards and more open shelving or the use of cabinets with glass doors to lighten the look.

Con: More Noise

Father playing with his child
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With open kitchens comes the potential for more noise due to the lack of walls keeping sounds contained. Whether it’s kids burning off energy in the loudest ways possible, lively conversation during after-dinner drinks, or the clinging and clanging of pots and pans during cooking, noise can travel easily in open kitchens. Bringing textiles such as rugs, mats, and curtains into the mix can help, as can including textured ceilings and paneled screens to help absorb some sound.

Con: Messes on Display

Woman rinsing dishes
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With closed kitchen designs, hiding messes from guests is a lot easier. Unfortunately, open kitchens don’t really give you that option, so you end up having to choose between being extremely diligent about cleaning and organizing or being comfortable enough to say “don’t mind the mess.” Incorporating plenty of storage and organization options, eliminating clutter, and using various cleaning tools to make it easier to manage messes are ways to keep your open kitchen looking great.

Con: Traveling Odors

Woman cooking eggs
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When cooking in an open kitchen, food odors aren’t contained like in a closed kitchen and can travel to other areas of the home. This might be fine for smells like bread baking in the oven or a fresh pot of coffee brewing, but odors like used frying oil or cooked fish are likely not the ones you want moving into other spaces and possibly lingering there. Opening your windows and using your range hood and air fresheners should help.

Con: Limited Storage Space

Woman placing food in the pantry
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Without additional walls to house storage options, open kitchens can make it more difficult to put away the things you need and keep everything from looking too messy. Incorporating an island with storage into the kitchen can be a good solution, or you can take advantage of ceiling space with hanging racks for things like pots and pans.

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