The most recent #NixonPack house was a total gut. I was several months pregnant and looking back, that may not have been the very best time to completely renovate a home. My husband and the whip marks on his back would agree. Kidding! (Okay, half joking). We bought the house from an elderly couple and it just felt like the walls were begging to be stripped of the 1974 wallpaper and the odd (and completely unnecessary) soffits in the kitchen. Finding out the wall between the kitchen and the living room wasn’t load bearing? Jackpot! Must. Come. Down. Every show I had seen on HGTV smashed the walls down and honestly? It looked like fun. Now time for the reality check – when you see it on TV they have done most of the pre-work so you see the big reveal moment at the very end when they miraculously plow through to the other side. Not the case IRL. But I must say, after watching my husband do it, there’s something pretty Superman about the process and boy is it gratifying to see it wide open at the end of the day. OK, so we fully committed – our entire first floor is W I D E O P E N. I mean open the front door and see an unobstructed view to the backyard kind of open. Here’s what we like about it and what we don’t so you have an arsenal of knowledge before you get out the sledge hammer.
Showpiece. When people come to our home for the first time they have a moment of “Ah! This is amazing. I’ve always wanted an open concept!” It is fabulous for entertaining and really showcases what you’d like to highlight in your home. For us, it’s the hexagonal marble accent wall in our kitchen. You can see it from all parts of the first floor and it helps justify the splurge of shipping it in from Italy, amIright? I thoroughly enjoy being able to have a conversation with my husband while I’m in the kitchen and he’s on the couch. (Wait. That really should be the other way around – Jon, you’re cooking tonight.) It allows you to see, hear and enjoy your guests. The layout has great flow and you’ve got eyes on the dogs, kids, dinner, the yard, at all times.
Mess. So as you read in the blurb above, when you have company over, the house is a showstopper, right? The toys are put away, the pillows are fluffed, the counters are clutter-free and pristine. Who lives that way? Not us. I didn’t realize that taking the walls down should come with a live-in maid. Think about it for a second. There’s no entry way to greet a friend who stops by to drop something off or the UPS man who needs you to sign for all those Amazon deliveries. They get to see the tornado that just blew through when your kid woke up from a nap. I swear it was clean 10 minutes ago! But they judge. You don’t have walls to put the couch up against and you have to worry about finding the right lighting options so you don’t ruin the open aesthetic that you’ve worked so hard to create. There’s a lot more that goes into it besides, “open is in, let’s get on this train because everyone else is.”
So here’s the wind up. Would I do it again? No. In fact we are house hunting at the moment and I walked into a more traditional house that had real rooms. A dining room, a living room, an office – oh the novelty! I was giddy at the space! You’d think open concept creates more space, but for us, we found it had the opposite effect. Before you get the dynamite and blast through the walls, take a minute to really envision where you would put things and how it would FEEL. I guarantee if we did a little pop-by in the latest HGTV reno, it might be just a little cluttered and not “company clean”. You know what I mean? That being said, in my previous kid-free, pet-free (OK we were never pet-free) life where I actually had extra time to deep clean and bake cookies and shine the chandelier, an open concept would have been ideal. But now? Ain’t nobody got time for that.