The debate is timely. For years, designers, architects, and homeowners have been touting the benefits of open floor plans.

But all that openness has been around for awhile, and for some folks the pendulum is now swinging back the other way.

Which is better? We’ve got the answer.

Related: Timeless Kitchens

Opening Arguments: The Open Kitchen

The idea of the open kitchen has been around since the 1990s and continues to be popular.

For example, in 2006 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that “the integration of kitchens with informal living space (great rooms) remains a popular design.” The report added that more than half of design firms were experiencing increased interest in open space floor plans.

Fast-forward to a 2013, and AIA reports that all is well with the open kitchen: “Integrating family space with kitchens remains a very popular design option.”

What’s good about it? Advocates say their open kitchen:

  • Keeps the family in touch by integrating meal prep with nearby activities, such as watching TV in the family room.
  • Invites guests into the hub of the home, and facilitates conversation between guests and home cooks.
  • Adds a sense of volume, especially in modestly sized homes.

Closing Arguments: The Closed Kitchen

“Closed” doesn’t mean claustrophobic. It means that kitchen access is limited to doorways, and that food prep and cleanup is hidden from view.

The most-popular reasons for having a closed kitchen include:

  • Messes are hidden.
  • More walls mean more cabinet storage, countertop work space, and room for appliances.
  • Guests aren’t inclined to enter the kitchen and disturb the cook.
  • Cooking odors are confined to the kitchen.
  • The dining experience is more formal.

A Houzz commenter posts: “I prefer a closed off kitchen. When I cook I like privacy and silence. I often make things I have never made before when entertaining and need to be able to concentrate without questions or recommendations on how to do something differently.”

The Verdict: It’s the Scullery for You