Turn on any home design show on television: I bet within five minutes you'll hear "open layout" or "open concept floor plan" uttered by the hopeful home seekers as their must-have feature. House Plans with Big Kitchens get mentioned nearly as often. Big islands usually get added during remodeling projects.
Open floor plans have become the new norm. Unlike other, more ephemeral trends (think shag carpeting or popcorn ceilings) it's not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon. Why? Because our lives look fundamentally different than decades ago when formal living rooms and closed-off kitchens reigned supreme.
Think back to when you were growing up. Did your mother (or maybe your grandmother) put all of the good china and fancy furniture in the living room where no one set foot except on holidays? Wasn't that, well, kind of a waste of space? Nowadays, we expect rooms to be used for many purposes, especially when budgets must stretch and every square foot matters.
Today's open floor plans aren't just a reflection of busy lifestyles. As cooking becomes a hobby, not just a chore, the kitchen morphs into a theater of sorts, where our friends watch us put together dinner, and where everyone really gathers to eat. 928-13 (above) from Visbeen Architects creates a casual vibe with plenty of seating around the island, so you can face family and friends while enjoying conversation and a snack.
Ranch House Plans also have become popular. A quick note about the ranch designation: style sticklers use it to describe a particular wide and low form (like 888-4 above) that proliferated in the middle of the 20th century, but many people today use it simply to describe any one-story house design. However you define it, a ranch home makes it easier to age in place, since you have fewer stairs to navigate and all living spaces sit on one level. If you're moving into a phase of your life (such as retirement) where you want to stay put for a long time, a one-story home just makes everything easier.
In fact, ranch style house plans with open floor plans can get quite luxurious. Take a look at 888-17 above for a good example. Rustic wood details (like those found on many Craftsman House Plans) add plenty of interest to the exterior, with the decorative truss drawing your eye to the entry.
Want something a bit more modest? 929-793 uses its 2,361 square feet wisely, with the kitchen at the center of action. Visitors can pull up a stool to the vast, wrapping bar and socialize. One of the four bedrooms sits close to the foyer, making it a good choice to convert into a study later.
Even budget-friendly Starter House Plans can include space for entertaining, like 44-193 above. The kitchen in this charming one-story home features a snack bar that everyone will love to gather around.