story BY AMBER TYNER • Photos by Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling
Scheduling time to spend with family everyday isn’t easy.
But one thing that can help is your floor plan.
Open concept living has become a trend for remodeling projects in recent years, and it offers benefits that a typical floor plan doesn’t, especially for families.
Tracy Tesmer, owner of Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling in Gainesville, said an open floor plan essentially “bring(s) the walls down” in a house.
“Open floor plan is less compartmentalized living and opening things up,” he said. “And just really taking down all the visual interruptions of line of sight so everybody can truly be together.”
He said one of the benefits of this design is that it encourages more family time.
“You don’t have separation,” he said. “You don’t have a living room, you don’t have a dining room, you don’t have a family room. You have a great room. Just opening up your home and taking away the compartmentalization of the living area is going to encourage more family time.”
He said the design usually focuses on the kitchen and creates more space in the house.
“It really centers around opening up the kitchen to the living areas,” he said. “So if mom’s in the kitchen cooking, she could be interacting with the children and the rest of the family. Your house feels less boxy on the inside.”
Kim Dean, a 40-year-old Gainesville resident, is a recent client of Tesmer who wanted this kind of open floor plan.
“We knew exactly what we wanted,” she said about her expectations for the remodel at her home. “We wanted to bring everything in together.”
Her house was built in 1962 by her great uncle, and it is where she lived as a child with her parents.
“I grew up here,” she said in an interview at the house, mentioning that she recently moved back with her husband after her mother passed away.
Dean wanted an open floor plan because the 1300 square foot house felt small.
“The footprint’s not very large,” she said. “We were shocked what we were able to do with a smaller space. We wanted to work with what we had, so we just merged basically the dining room and the kitchen together and expanded it. Even though we didn’t add to the floor plan, it still makes it feel larger.”
Dean’s favorite part of the new floor plan is the bigger kitchen.
“I love the kitchen,” she said. “And I guess it’s because I know what it used to be. It was very tiny. We wanted a more open kitchen because my husband and I both help each other when we cook.”
The newly opened space has allowed for more family time.
“The way it was before, it would have been people sitting in this room, people maybe gathering in the kitchen at the little table, and then people gathering in the living room,” she said. “Everybody was split. It’s awesome because people can eat at the table, they can be sitting in the living room, they can be cooking in the kitchen, and everybody still has access to each other. Conversations can still happen, and you’re not separated. It’s all inclusive.”
Dean recommends an open floor plan for everyone.
“I don’t know why anybody would want anything different,” she said. “I love it. It feels more roomy but yet it still feels cozy.”
Along with open floor plans, another design that works well for families — especially multigenerational households — is something called “aging in place.”
“Aging in place design is just redesigning your home so that you can live comfortably and safely for a longer period of time,” said Sara Bagwell, designer at Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling. “So basically doing things like opening up doorways for wheelchair or walker access — just making your home ADA compliant. It’s also a good thing to think about even before you get to that point. Just in terms of planning ahead, making your home safe and accessible for on down the road.”
She said for families, this type of design is important to consider if you have grandparents living in the house.
“If you have a multigenerational home — so you have grandparents living in the home or something like that — then it would definitely be important to think about,” she said.
The next time you consider remodeling or are picking out a new floor plan, think about what’s going to meet the needs of your family, from having more accessibility throughout the house to spending time together.
“I would say bring the walls down,” Tesmer said about floor plans for families. “I think it just encourages more interaction and togetherness. Anything that we can do as designers and builders to open it up and bring the family together, that’s the answer.”
✽ KonMari Method ✽
If you’re looking to tidy up your home, you may want to try a new cleaning method known as “KonMari.” Created by Marie Kondo, the technique encourages people to clean around the house by category rather than by room. According to the website, you should declutter
“beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items.” If an item doesn’t “spark joy,” then it’s time to let it go. For more information, visit Kondo’s website or watch the show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix.