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Open and Closed Kitchens: The Pros and Cons

Kitchen is the most expensive room to renovate. There is a lot to consider: functionality and durability are just two of the many aspects. But before you even get there, you’ll find yourself haunted by this question: how do I choose between open and closed kitchens?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, as both concepts have their pros and cons. You simply have to pick one that suits you best. Read on to find out how they compare and hopefully, you’ll be able to make a decision!

Ventilation

I swoon every time I see an open kitchen. But almost immediately after, I’d hear my mom’s voice in my head: “You ready to mop the floor every day?” Dare I say, ventilation is the number one concern in this debate. With an open kitchen, fumes escape and leave grease on all kinds of surfaces, making it more tedious to clean up. Apart from that, smell drifts easily to other parts of your home. This wouldn’t be a problem if you’re an amazing cook or baker. In my case though, the whole world will know when I burn the chicken.

On the flip side, this means better air circulation in open kitchens, which a closed kitchen will have to make up for with larger or more windows. Nevertheless, closed kitchens confine not only smell and fumes, but also noises like my frustrated sigh. No need to worry about a loud cooker hood – which an open kitchen desperately needs to help take care of the fumes – waking the household up when you make breakfast early in the morning (or cook supper late at night, like me). Be ready to invest in noise-free appliances and a silent yet strong hood for your open kitchen.

 

Closed kitchen

To retain visual spaciousness, the dining area features mirror while the closed kitchen utilizes glass.

Space

With fewer walls, open kitchens have limited room for wall cabinets and shelves. A kitchen island is often introduced to create more storage space. Meanwhile, closed kitchens allow more storage fixtures to be installed.

However, if you look at the bigger picture, an open kitchen creates a visually larger home. Knocking down walls frees up the floor plan and makes small homes less claustrophobic. The space where the walls would have been could mean a larger dining room, or easier traffic when you house more guests. It also encourages family activities to take place in and around the kitchen. In contrast, a closed kitchen is defined strictly by the square footage allocated within the walls, making it isolated and inflexible for other functions.

 

Open kitchen with breakfast bar

An open kitchen with a breakfast bar.

Socialization

Opening up the kitchen helps integrate it with the rest of the house. One could still socialize with others while preparing meals or washing up. You wouldn’t have to ask “what did I miss?” when emerging from the kitchen with a fresh pot of coffee. Serving food also becomes easier with a breakfast bar at the kitchen island or a nearby dining table. As such, open kitchens promote community-based living and facilitate interactions between family members.

However, if your ideal me time is cooking with some music in the kitchen, a closed kitchen is more your thing. The walls shield you from interruptions and distractions for a private and relaxing cooking session.

 

Open kitchen with breakfast bar

This wall cabinets in this open kitchen are designed to fit the overall interior scheme.

Organization

An open kitchen is casual and friendly; everything is in plain sight. In other words, after serving a six-course meal to impress your future in-laws, the mess is unfortunately out in the open for everyone to see too. Furthermore, when choosing appliances and organizing them, you have to pay extra attention on how they fit into your overall interior scheme. This could be a fun challenge for homeowners who love styling their homes.

On the other hand, a closed kitchen lends itself and the detached dining room an air of formality. When choosing appliances, style can take a backseat while you focus on practicality. You can also worry less about keeping order while cooking – close the door and no one will know.

 

Closed kitchen with sliding door

A closed kitchen with sliding doors.

Of course, there are lots of creative ways to have the best of both worlds:

  • Build an open kitchen upon a raised platform so that cooking activities are beyond the eye level of seated guests
  • Use a flexible partition, such as a folding/sliding door or even indoor plants
  • Replace the walls of a closed kitchen with glass partitions to helps retain visual spaciousness
  • Close off only part of the kitchen for more intensive cooking activities while leaving the rest open for visual appeal and social interactions

If you still can’t decide, it’s best to consult a professional interior designer to come up with a solution that works for you. Happy renovating!

 

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