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Kitchens By Design: Open vs. Closed



While the open concept kitchen space has ruled design trends for the past decade, there are many ongoing debates regarding open vs. closed kitchens by design, and their focus in a home. Both offer pros and cons to Santa Barbara homeowners. The trend of an open concept kitchen allows flow from adjoining rooms, while a closed kitchen offers privacy and separation between rooms. Let’s take a deep dive into both and see which one is right for you.


The Open Kitchen

The concept of the open kitchen started becoming popular in the 1990s and is still a favored choice of many. This concept makes the heart of the home, the kitchen, more integrated with adjacent rooms, usually the family room and the dining room. Such a kitchen is commonly ‘open’ from more than one side, meaning that it doesn’t have walls on more than one side. As a result, countless walls have been knocked down, and it’s increasingly rare to find newer houses that don’t have kitchens open to some kind of adjoining family room. Even The New York Times did a story on the new/old trend making a comeback.

Let’s see if this is the right choice for you by looking at some of the pros and cons:


1) Considering that a couple of walls are eliminated in the case of an open kitchen, open kitchens tend to be naturally brighter and well-ventilated than closed ones.

2) The family chef who prepares a meal in an open kitchen can feel like a part of the fun in the adjoining room, making for better bonding with guests.

3) Open kitchens lend an air of informality to the house.

4) With an open kitchen, it becomes possible for you to show off your fabulous, luxurious cookware.

5) An open kitchen plan lends a sense of space to the house, making it look bigger.

6) As I previously blogged, the scent and smell of your home can make it more inviting. Nothing can beat the aroma of fresh food floating all over the house.

7) If you have kids who need supervision, an open kitchen can help you keep an eye on them while you cook.


1) While an open kitchen layout showcases your top of the line appliances, it also showcases your messes.

2) Also, all the sounds of kitchen appliances – like the mixer or dishwasher – can be heard in adjacent rooms.

The Closed Kitchen

A closed kitchen inside my listing on the Santa Barbara Riviera

When it comes to kitchens by design, a couple excellent examples of closed kitchens include the Striking Mid-Century Modern Home on the Riviera pictured at the top of this blog as well as this closed kitchen pictured above found inside my European-inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate. Basically, a closed kitchen is just what the name suggests – “closed off” or isolated, from the rest of the house. It’s a personal preference, but designers are saying homeowners are beginning to complain about the huge, open interiors that can be found in almost every home that’s been built in the last 10+ years. They say a big kitchen is great, but they don’t want this area open to the family room, or any other room in the house, for that matter.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a closed kitchen:


1) If you’re the type of person who thinks of the kitchen as your sanctuary, as your own place where you can sink into the cooking process without any interruption or distraction, a closed kitchen would be the perfect choice for you.

2) Smells and messes stay hidden inside the kitchen, away from the rest of the house.

3) A closed kitchen lends an air of formality, perfect for those who prefer a formal cooking experience with silence and privacy included.

4) More walls mean more countertop space, more cabinets and shelves, and more storage space for appliances.

5) With a closed kitchen, not only are the smells of cooking confined (mostly, at least!) but the sounds are too.


1) You might have to spend huge amounts of money to tear those walls down in a closed kitchen to create an open-plan kitchen. Santa Barbara homeowners might want to invest that money in newer and better kitchen appliances and fixtures instead.

2) A closed kitchen plan allows for lesser access to the natural light and air circulation available in the house when compared to an open kitchen.

3) Caterers tend to prefer closed kitchens, where they can do their work in private and without distractions.

Santa Barbara Homeowners Can Have the Best of Both Worlds

Santa Barbara homeowners who are looking for the benefits of both open and closed kitchens by design should follow these simple tips to have it all:

1) Incorporate sliding barn doors, or metal mesh curtains. Both options make it easy to open or close your kitchen whenever you want it to.

2) Add a table or other seating venue inside your large kitchen to allow your loved ones to keep you company as you cook.

3) Adding a glass partition to separate the kitchen and the other parts of the house is a good trick that allows natural light to flood the kitchen area while the sounds and smells stay in. This modern kitchen idea also proves worthy when you don’t want to feel completely isolated from the rest of the house.

4) For those who you want an open kitchen but can’t bear the thought of the cooking smells spreading to the rest of the house, experts suggest they use vents. High-quality, high-powered vents can carry the smells outdoors, so that they don’t linger on and spread throughout your home.

5) Those who have an open kitchen plan can invest in noise-free appliances.

6) Make a partition out of your inside garden.  Living walls are hugely popular today.

I hope reading this blog gives you some food for thought about your preference between the two types of kitchens by design. If you are ready to remodel, I can help by putting you in contact with my extensive list of resources that include the best architecbuilding contractors in the area. Whatever your needs in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities I’m here to help. I can also help with buying or selling your home. Just call me at 805.886.9378 or email me at


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