The Hybrid Concept Floorplan: Charm, Function & Flexibility
It’s no secret that those of us in the building, architecture, and design industry are seeing a shift away from open-concept floorplans. Those plans with wide open spaces certainly serve a purpose (and still appeal to many), but a post-Covid world brought many of us to the realization that more walls, doors, and distinct spaces in a home serve a family well. In response to this, architects and designers began creating floorplans inspired by the lessons we learned, and used creative techniques to achieve functionality inspired by the modern family’s needs. For a great example, take a look at the 2021 Southern Living Idea House designed by architect Brandon Ingram.
In reality, what we might refer to as a “closed-concept floorplan” is actually a traditional floorplan – the plans that reigned supreme throughout history, featuring walls between most spaces, designated for specific use, and without unusually large rooms with multiple functions. This means the modern-day transition away from open-concept floorplans is a transition back in the direction of traditionalism, but this time, with the knowledge of what we love about open-concept plans.
If you’re like lots of us, the thought of moving toward a traditional floorplan is appealing, but you’re left with questions. Will there be enough natural sunlight? Will I have a large enough space for entertaining? Will I even use some of these rooms all year, or will they just be wasted space? If I’m building a smaller floorplan, will these rooms feel too small?
Enter, the hybrid concept floorplan. These plans feature all the historic charm and flexible spaces of traditional floorplan, with the modern functionality and key design elements of open-concept.
Let’s take a look at the most important features in a Hybrid-Concept Floorplan:
Convertible Spaces & Implied Separation
In a traditional floorplans, spaces like the dining room, sitting room, music rooms, etc. are often fully closed off from the rest of the home (with the exception, of course, of pass-thru areas). To make these spaces “convertible,” expand the pass thru areas and add wood or glass pocketing doors. This way, you can easily control how open or closed your home is, as well as the sound level in each room.
If you don’t need the sound or sight line barriers of doors between rooms, consider half-walls (also called knee walls or pony walls) to help define spaces with implied separation. To turn up the charm and function, consider half walls with columns and built-in storage. Interior windows walls can also create implied separation, while allowing lines of sight and sunlight to pass through. A dining room located centrally in the home with two sets of pocketing doors allows the space to open fully to the area around it, and expand for larger gatherings.
If you’re on the fence about moving to a traditional style floorplan, there’s a rule of thumb that could help you decide. Take a look at your potential plan(s) – for any rooms you think might be used infrequently (the formal dining room and sitting room/den are common culprits), think of at least 1 other every-day use for that room. As an example, formal dining rooms can double as a library/study (with the right furniture/built-ins). Sitting rooms or dens can double as homework space for the kids (factor in fold-up work spaces, so the homework can be quickly hidden behind cupboard doors).
A Kitchen Sitting Room / Keeping Room is Key
When you think of an open-concept floorplan, what comes to mind first? Seriously, take a moment and envision yourself standing in an open concept floorplan. Are you standing in the kitchen? The living room? Chances are, it was one of those two spaces. For many of us, the most appealing aspect of an open-concept plan is the kitchen’s proximity to everything else – especially when we consider how much time we spend in the kitchen. This is often why clients considering a traditional steer away, in favor of open-concept. If this is on your mind, a kitchen sitting room might just solve the problem.
A kitchen sitting room has many uses. Playroom for the kids – homework space when they’re bigger, a small dining area – extra space for staging/prep when it’s time for the Holidays – an intimate gathering space – cozy spot for drinking coffee – not to mention how this space elevates the kitchen, and your experience there.
If you love natural light, you might be concerned the walls in a traditional floorplan will spell defeat for your sunbathed dream home. Not to worry – a hybrid concept floorplan considers multi-directional sunlight. For each space in your home, think about window and door placement. First and foremost, do you have window(s) or door(s) with Southern exposure? These will receive the most sunlight throughout the day, so South facing exposure is especially important. Next, let’s look for multi-directional light. For a truly sunbathed home, you’ll want sunlight to access your spaces from as many directions as possible. Consider each room – does it have windows, doors, or line of sight to a sunlight source from almost every direction? If not, and windows or doors can be added to the exterior walls, add them! If not, but it’s interior walls blocking the directional light, consider half walls, transom windows, cased windows, or pocketing doors to create passage of sunlight.
Multi-Functional Outdoor Space is a Must
Outdoor living space is one of the most pivotal aspects of your home. We know – it can be tempting to spend your budget on the interior living spaces and leave little room for outdoor living (and depending on your climate, that may be the best approach). However, for those who live in temperate climates, well-designed outdoor living spaces can help a hybrid-home design achieve the spacious feel it’s owner’s desire. To create a multi-functional outdoor living space, we often recommend floor heating, retractable screen systems (we love the Sunspace systems), and fireplaces, ceiling heaters, or even mini HVAC units (called mini-splits). Worried about the sunlight this space could block from your home’s interior? Consider second story windows or dormers to circumvent this problem, or add skylights to your covered porch.
Family Studio + Back Kitchen
Dreaming of a traditional floorplan with the formal spaces of a time gone by, but worried about the realities of a modern life in this midst of those space (read: toys scattered across the sitting room, soccer shoes in the beautiful foyer)? A family studio could be just the solution. A relatively new concept, a family studio is a space for the realistic day-to-day of family life. The family studio is generally located where a mud-room might be, where the family or friends enter the home. It’s a larger space (depending on the size of the home) that encompasses the mud room, laundry room, task/hobby room, and sometimes even a back/dirty kitchen. Often, a family studio features an island in the center of the space for tasks like folding laundry, wrapping presents, etc. while cabinetry is located around the perimeter of the room for storage or desk stations. If you don’t have space for a full dirty/back kitchen, this is the perfect space for an additional fridge, sink, or even storage for your large kitchen appliances.
Functional Furniture is Make or Break
In a traditional concept floorplan, selection of furniture is especially important. The furnishing, colors, and décor in a room help narrate the space’s intended use. In a hybrid-concept plan where spaces are often used for more than one purpose, selecting especially flexible furnishings that transform with the purpose of the room can be make or break. If you’re considering a dining room/library combo, leave space for an armless chaise lounge or small seating area for reading. In the sitting room, consider chairs that can easily swivel, or are light to rotate, so they can be used for tasks (like homework) or conversation while you’re entertaining.
Main Bedroom on the Main Floor, Always
Often, traditional floorplans place all the bedrooms on the second floor. This is largely due to a previous desire to fully separate the “public” living areas from the “private” living areas. Today, we believe a main bedroom should almost never be placed on the second floor. If you’re building a forever home, the main bedroom’s location on the first floor will eventually become important to you for mobility purposes. If not, keep in mind that houses with the main bedroom on the main floor sale faster, and sale closer to (or above) list price than their counterparts.
If you’re worried about the privacy of your main bedroom, consider placing the room down a short hallway for separation of space. Consider a main bedroom foyer for extra privacy. If that is not possible, make sure your main bedroom’s door doesn’t have a line of sight into the primary living space. This will give you a feeling of additional privacy.
Want to learn more about hybrid-floorplans? Interested in building a custom home in Asheville, but not sure where to start? Reach out to our team today to work with our talented team featuring on-staff interior designers and a dedicated design + build manager to design the home of your dreams.