Burning Question: An Open Relationship?

We’re back with yet another burning question for you guys. And it has to do with open, common areas vs. separate, private spaces. Do you prefer an office with walls and a door, or a desk in the corner of a family room? What about when it comes to washing and drying? Do you favor a room devoted solely to laundry, or a laundry corner in a den or other informal family room that facilitates relaxing between loads and folding while watching some tube?

Here’s a rarely seen angle of our very own den. You can see that we created a laundry nook a few feet away from our seating area in the foreground and stuck a desk on the left side of the room so one of us can type while the other is tv-ing. I guess it makes us feel like we’re spending more time “together” even if John’s busy folding and I’m busy formatting a document.

But that’s just our approach. And we wanna hear what you think. Is open living so in vogue that even a laundry center and an office out in the open appeal? Or would you rather draw the line at open kitchens and living areas while keeping the desk and the dirty clothes behind closed doors? Spill the beans.


  1. says

    It’s funny you posted this, because I was looking at some of your house pics the other day and I was wondering where the “home office” was. I like things open. With two small children, it’s nice to be able to keep an eye on them, even if we’re doing separate activities. The downside, however, is that I do some editing work from home and it’s hard to get anything done with the kids around.

  2. Amy Button says

    I’d like for my laundry room to be anywhere other than where it actually is- in the bathroom with no hallway access. My laundry troubles aside though, I think I’d prefer it to at least be in a closet. And I’d like the office to be closed off too- ours is currently in the kitchen. Although I’d at least like a laptop in the kitchen for recipes and things. Hmmm, can I pick both?

  3. Kathryn says

    For laundry, I prefer a separate room, for a couple of reasons. 1) I hang most of my clothes to dry, and we’re not allowed to install a clothesline in the backyard. So, I need a space to set up my laundry racks and hang my clothes to dry. 2) I tend to do laundry in marathons. Not only do I need a clothes sorter (lights, darks, delicates….or towels, sheets and cleaning cloths), but after that’s full I pile the loads on the floor to wait for the washer to finish. Again, it’s nice to have a dedicated space to do this in…especially one with a door that closes!

    All this depends on the space available, of course. We’re lucky to have a larger house (2000 sq ft on 2 floors) with a basement that we’re finishing (another 900 sq ft), so we have room for a laundry room. In our old place (1600 sq. ft all told), the washer and dryer were in a closet upstairs. We made due, it just took a little extra organization (and good balance, as you tiptoed between the laundry piles, because I had no room for a sorter!)

    For an office, I prefer a separate space, away from the main living space. This is partially to control clutter, and partially to ensure productivity- if the TV is on and I can see it, I’ll get nothing done.

  4. says

    for laundry, definitely seperate area. We just have a closet right now for that. But I like to keep the noise away from my quiet sanctuaries while it’s going.

    for office I also prefer a seperate room, but we also have our laptop and wireless internet connection so we can bring that into the living room when we want to be together while still working on something on the computer. But if you really need to buckle down and get some distraction-free work done, a seperate room is definitely the way to go

  5. Ashley says

    Oh, my, I much prefer open space to separate rooms and walls. The next house we own will have such a floor plan, I pray. I just think it makes for seamless living.

    I would love to have one big open room where we could cook, eat, play, craft, watch television, use the computer, and read in a quiet nook. This would be ideal, not only because I have two young children (and how nice would it be to be able to simultaneously prepare a meal and supervise their activity), but because I think having an open space fosters togetherness.

    To that end, I have tried to be as thoughtful and as creative as possible in making the rooms in our 3-level townhouse multi-purpose. In the kitchen, for example, we have a table for four. We eat on this table, work out our budget, play games, paint, have devotions, and “school time.” All the stuff we need for these activities is conveniently stored in the kitchen cabinets. The kitchen is probably my favorite multi-purpose room of the house.

    We have a living/dining room combo, sort of like y’all’s. The “dining” room is a play area for the kids and the living room has typical living room stuff.

    I do think that being able to retreat is important. To me, that’s what bedrooms are for. (In response to one of your previous questions, I vote no TV in the bedroom!)

    I am so FASCINATED by how floor plans and furniture placement and the way we “purpose” our living space can affect the way we live. Is there a science behind all this?

    I LOVE your blog and check it daily! Congrats on all the publicity, and happy decorating!!!

    -Ashley from Maryland

    P.S. Yikes! I’m just now realizing that I didn’t answer your question really! So, I vote yes for open laundry and office!!!

  6. says

    Our current situation is very different than what we are looking for when we look at showhomes. Currently, our “laundry room” is a closet in the main bathroom. I hate this!! My ideal space would be a laundry/mudroom that is closed off as not only do I not want to hear the laundry but I do not want to see the piles as they are waiting to be washed. I would have a nice deep sink, for handwashing; a large counterspace and comfy chair for folding, probably a built in, fold-down ironing board, room for my clothes steamer (currently hiding in the spare bedroom closet) and plenty of space for my clothes dryer (currently located in the loft bathroom, so I have to haul all the damp clothes up there in a hamper and then hang them!!)

    As far as an office, I would love a little one off the main floor entrance, with french doors that would be convenient, and private, which would prevent me from getting distracted when working, and come across more professional for my clients and customers. However, we wanted to keep a guest bedroom so in lieu of a private office, we use the upstairs loft as an office, my studio and “family” room with big screen and all Cory’s video games. But when we build next year – I’m sticking to my wish list :)

  7. says

    Laundry? Keep it as far away and out of my minds eye as possible. I hate laundry in general, and having a constant reminder of how neglectful I’ve been to the washing and folding would make me crazy. At the same time, out of sight out of mind is never a good thing, right?

    But the home office thing. That’s tricky. I love the fact that I have a room, with a door, that I can close and lock out the cats and husband if need be. To get work done. Distractions are the death of my productivity. At the same time, being so removed from life going on in the rest of the house can be no fun! There are those times you’d like to plop yourself down at a desk smack dab in the middle of what your spouse is up to.

    So, for office space? I’d say both! And get a laptop so you can float between seclusion and attention to your hearts desire.

  8. Bo says

    I don’t mind home-offices to be out in the open… I don’t work at home, so to have an entire room devoted to a desk and a laptop seems quite pointless, and a waste of space. Yours looks nice.

    But I do prefer laundry rooms to be “hidden.” I guess it’s because laundry seems to be a more private thing (for example, if you have guests over, you may excuse yourself to quickly answer an important work related email… but I doubt you would start folding socks during a dinner party).

  9. Rebecca Coupland says

    Oh, if only we actually had a big enough house so that this decision was ours to make!

    Our laundry is in our hallway, in a space that is recessed about three feet into the wall. Our basement is a packed-dirt floor, dug out in the 1870s, so it’s not going down there…I want my clothes to stay clean when they come out of the washer, not get dirtier than they were before they went in. Putting the laundry any other place would require much re-plumbing, mess, and expense we’re not prepared to get into.

    We did manage to install some fancy closet organizer shelves and hooks for cleaning tools (broom, swiffer, etc.) and we had curtains custom made for the space, which sort of drape around the stacked washer and dryer.

    We fold and sort the clothes on our spare bedroom bed, the door of which is directly across from the washer and dryer. We keep dirty laundry in a (covered!) laundry basket squeezed into our bedroom beside a bedside table and the wall.

    Our kittens’ litter box is next to the washer/dryer, so the curtain conveniently hides it. They just sort of walk “through” it to get to their box. We can hook it up on a wrought iron hook when we need to clean the litter.

    Small house = creativity.

  10. Cassidy says

    When I was a kid, we lived in an apartment (until our new house was built) where the laundry was hidden in the great room. It was situated behind a door, so it wasn’t in the way or even noticed when we were eating or watching TV.

    But when that door opened, that washer/dryer was the biggest pain ever! Loud! We had turn the volume up and schedule when we ate dinner around the loud thumping.

    Since those days and now a homeowner in present day, I prefer having my laundry appliances as far away as possible. The smells, the noise, etc…

    We fold laundry in the family room, where I kindly distribute said garments to each family member.

  11. Jennifer C. says

    You have an advantage with those front-loaders, since they barely make any noise. I definitely would not want a top-loading washer anywhere near my living area.
    On the other hand, if we didn’t have a laundry “room” in our basement where I can dump all the laundry on the 8′ table my husband made for me, I’d probably be able to find my socks.
    Storage space is the bane of my existence. We have a Cape-ish house with 1100sqft on the main floor (2BR/1BA). Unfortunately, we also have an 1100sqft unfinished basement and about 700sqft of walk-up, finishable attic. It’d be great if I weren’t such a pack rat. I’ve lived in this house for almost fifteen years, so you can imagine what my attic and basement look like!
    Oh, I guess my vote is for open public spaces and a separate laundry room. Home offices don’t have to be very big, so they can go anywhere.

  12. says

    I like having separate spaces so that we can have private time if need be. Sometimes I need to actually work (and vice versa) so to be able to close a door and lock ourselves off from the world is actually better for us. That said, I can see our work space from our living room couch so if we’re not completely heads down we still get a lot of that together time. Also, we have a couch in our office if one of us is on the computer and the other just wants to hang out. Oh, and our laundry room should ALWAYS be hidden. It’s a mess there.

  13. Patsy says

    I draw the line at incorporating laundry room and office into open space living. The laundry room because it’s hardly ever pretty and it also makes a lot of noise in most cases. As for the office… I wouldn’t mind actually having a desk area as part of e.g. the living room, but would it be practical? How can you get any work done there with such close proximity to a TV? or perhaps with kids running around or talking?

  14. YoungHouseLove says

    Thanks for all the opinions, everyone. We definitely agree that open living- especially when it comes to the laundry and office areas- isn’t for everyone.

    As Jennifer C points out, we do have the advantage of quieter and prettier front-loaders (we would’ve never displayed our old appliances) and with only two people in the house we don’t find it too challenging to keep it looking tidy over there. Maybe we’ll sing a different tune when children enter the picture.

    The open home office also works well for us because we don’t have the square footage available to devote an entire room to it… and we don’t mind having a reason to keep the area neat (something we’d probably be less apt to do if we just had a door we could close). Plus, as many of you pointed out, our laptop is key in allowing us to have a “home office” anywhere in our house, which is certainly a nice convenience when we’re bloggin’ the day away.

    Thanks again for sounding off, folks. It’s fun to hear what works and doesn’t work for each of you- and to realize, once again, that there’s no right answer to a question like this.

    -John & Sherry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *