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"The Oppressive Communality" of Open Floor Plans



(p. D1) These days, people are taking another look at developing basements or attics as getaway bonus spaces to ensure family peace. As the idea of the open-plan home--the combination kitchen, living and dining room that's long dominated residential layouts--has aged, it's revealed its flaws. When parents are relentlessly texting children all day and then corralling the whole family into a single living space all night, there's no escaping each other, and nerves can fray.


. . .


(p. D2) The oppressive communality of the open plan has fueled the backlash, as has constant connectedness. Jen Altman, a child family psychologist of 17 years, sees the pendulum beginning to swing away from helicopter parenting. These days, she hears parents howl versions of "I just need 10 minutes to myself."

"I've always thought that aloneness and separation are as vital to development as attachment and connection," said Dr. Altman, who practices in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.


. . .


"It's hard to get away from the open plan because of the way we live," she said. "It's the space where everyone congregates--meals are prepared, kids do their homework." But she found herself seeking respite in the detached room--"sort of an at-home getaway," she said. Though bright bands of colored paint ring the walls, "the space never reads 'playroom,'" she said, thanks to a floor of black rocks and shells, and a muted Oriental rug. After Ms. Vidal moved in her beloved midcentury Heywood Wakefield vanity, her design books and mementos made the space hers.

"It's a bit of separation from being on top of one another," she said of the room. "It helps me focus."



For the full story, see:

Elizabeth Anne Hartman. "Hideaway We Go." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Aug. 19, 2017): D1-D2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 17, 2017, and has the title "The Open-Floor-Plan Backlash: How Family Members Are Escaping Each Other.")






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