I recently read an article from Readers Digest (yes.. Readers Digest is still around!) about renovations that you are likely to regret later. It was fairly accurate (I thought), including the first one on the list "Creating a Great Room." My wife and I created a great room when we remodeled our house 10 years ago and yes, there are many times we regretted it.
"While the room may be very large, it doesn't offer many options: It leaves the family with only one room to relax in, any mess is immediately visible and remains that way until tidied, there is no table where you can relax and enjoy a meal, and sometimes you don't want to hear whatever the kids are watching on TV," says Michele Morrison, a realtor in the Greater Bay Area of California.
Yep... she's nailed it. When we "opened up" our living space (turned three separate rooms into one really big room), we rearranged our furniture a hundred times before we finally settled on a layout. When it was said and done, we found we used the spaces the same as before, just no walls between the rooms. Granted, the open floor plan was great when we had parties or a bunch of family members over. But if I wanted to watch a football game or a movie and the rest of the family wanted to make a batch of homemade cookies, it was TV volume vs stand mixer (the mixer usually won).
With hindsight, would I have done things differently? Maybe. But we did not have a lot of options with our old layout. And with growing kids, it was nice to be able to be working in the kitchen and keep an eye on the activities of everyone without having to stick our heads around a wall to peek.
I think we are starting to see the trend move away from the full blown "open concept" to more of a large kitchen with maybe a keeping area and then a separate living space or den. Not so sure that formal livings will be coming back anytime soon for your average home owner either.