Articles Interior Design Multifunctional Areas Vs Delineated Zones: Which Works Better For Your Space?

Multifunctional Areas Vs Delineated Zones: Which Works Better For Your Space?

An open floor plan offers unrestricted flow and line of vision while delineated spaces offer privacy and more storage options.

Home interior design can be classified as being either one layout: an open floor plan or a closed floor plan. These standard layouts affect a space's overall feel, accessibility, and functions. For example, open floor plans are popular among homeowners who prefer multifunctional spaces and unrestricted flow. On the other hand, closed floor plans are the choice of homeowners who like traditional styles and tend to prioritize privacy provided by clearly separated zones.

A multifunctional space offers great benefits like added space, versatility in function, and good resale value, while a closed concept plan gives you privacy, energy efficiency, and flexibility in interior design. There are advantages and disadvantages to both — and it's up to you to figure out what exactly you need from your space, and what sort of trends you want to utilize in your design.

Here are some of the differences between open, multifunctional spaces and closed, delineated spaces to help you decide which works better for your home and your lifestyle:

Increased flow vs. focused movement

Two armchairs in sitting area near modern fireplace, office setup, and living areas

With little to no walls to break up the flow of a space, open concept multifunctional homes appear much larger as well as feel spacious and airy. One large open area versus one that's broken up into smaller rooms tends to have uninterrupted flow and allows you to set up your home (and decide the flow) however you want to. Such flexibility comes in really handy especially if you have a tricky layout or house cut, allowing you to maximize any nook and cranny that may be possible through weirdly-placed walls and odd doorways. In addition, open spaces are beneficial for people who need assistive devices like wheelchairs since there are less walls and hallways to restrict movement.

With closed concept floor plans, you are forced to move a certain way in your home to reach the particular room or space you need to use. For example, you'll most likely place your bedroom on the farthest room for optimal privacy, and a home office near a secondary entrance. In the same vein, you'll attempt to squeeze in a dining area near the kitchen instead of switching zones, no matter how awkward the overall layout may be.

Of course, that's not to say that closed floor plans are entirely bad. While slightly restricting, delineated spaces are almost always tidier than multifunctional spaces, and can provide you with your most ideal flow when executed properly and to your liking.

Blended use vs. distinct functions

Dining area in kitchen beside sitting area with mismatched floor transition

Homes with open floor plans benefit from multifunctional spaces and double-duty areas, meaning certain zones can serve different uses depending on the homeowner's needs. A living room can easily turn into a recreation room or an entertainment space, and a dining room into a home office or a family room.

With closed concepts, rooms are generally smaller and therefore can only accommodate one function. Home offices may be too small to function as a recreation room and a dining room may only have enough space to hold a table, chairs, a banquet, and not much else. Of course, delineated spaces help the homeowner focus on what they want to do in an area, and enjoy the privacy that comes with walls and dividers.

If you live in a home with an open concept but want to follow a clear layout for your rooms, mismatched floors and ceiling transitions are an interesting way of splitting an otherwise open floor plan into distinct zones with specific functions. Wooden planks are best kept in sitting areas and the TV lounge, versus the kitchen that needs regular cleaning (and thus may need non-absorbent tiles instead.)

Full visibility vs. more privacy

Blue sofa near dining table setup and white kitchen in open floor plan

Open concept homes are a great option for families with younger children or even pets, thanks to the full visibility provided by losing the walls that cut living spaces. This means being able to watch your kids during playtime in the living room while preparing dinner in the kitchen, or to catch your dog try and eat human food from the dining table while enjoying primetime TV in your lounge.

On the other hand, delineated spaces put a premium on privacy, which may be the best option for when your kids get older and want to retreat to their own spaces, or if you have housemates and want to hosts two groups of people. Walls or dividers not only block your line of vision but actually also provide soundproofing, which may be something that you want to prioritize in your future home.

Looking to switch from an open floor plan to a more traditional build, or vice versa? Test the waters and rent one of our property listings here.

More space to entertain vs. plentiful, better storage

View from kitchen with center wall acting as zone divider for living and dining areas

Open floor plans and multifunctional spaces are perfect for optimal socialization. Without the walls that break up the space into multiple smaller rooms, an open concept home feels extra spacious and can allow you to gather more people in your home to hang out and socialize. If you're the type to host friends and loved ones over on a regular basis, you may want to invest in a property with a modern style and very few center walls.

That said, losing the walls may also mean you're losing on prime storage real estate. Walls are great for vertical storage solutions, and allow furniture to be pushed into corners, leaving uncluttered space in the middle of the rooms. This not only makes it easier for you to keep your rooms tidy with hanging storage, but also helps you maximize eye-level decor space. Walls can carry anything as light as unframed posters to something as heavy-duty as wooden cabinets or even kitchen appliance cubbies.

Open concept homes and multifunctional spaces work for certain lifestyles the same way traditional, closed floor plans and delineated spaces work for others. If you're unsure of which layout to try, the good thing about open floor plans in particular is that you can play around with your layouts and use temporary solutions like bookshelves and furniture reconfiguration to mimic the feel of a closed concept plan. Traditional floor plans may be harder to adjust (especially if you're a tenant and can't knock down walls), but there are also many interior design tricks to make them feel more open and great for guests.