How to Create an Open-Concept in a 90s-Era Home

Transforming Outdated 1990s Homes

White Traditional Kitchen with curved island and white subway tile 55044

Continuing our 1990s Home Updates series were answering a common 90s-era homeowner question: How to create an open concept in a 1990s home.

90s Home Vibes vs. Today’s Open Concept Homes

The 90s was a decade of many things: Neon clothes, Rachel haircuts, and closed off home layouts. These compartmentalized home layouts tended to be darker and more cramped. Even worse, they make it difficult to entertain guests or keep an eye on little ones.

In today’s home, having an open space that feels connected – from the kitchen to the living and dining rooms – is much preferred over separate rooms. Open concept living give the illusion of more space, it makes entertaining a breeze. If you’ve got a layout in need of an overhaul, you’re not alone.

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The Gather Around Kitchen

The existing kitchen in this home had a few fairly functional amenities (bar seating and an adjoining dinette space). It felt cramped and too closed off from the rest of the spaces. The wall to the left of the sink blocked the view to the great room. The corner pantry lacked efficient use of space leaving only a small and narrow hallway to get to the nearby dining room.

before-and-after-kitchen-floorplans
The Gather Round Kitchen Space Plan | Before & After

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Spacious Curved Island

First, we removed the wall between the kitchen and great room keeping general layout of the space. This allowed us to revamp the peninsula into a huge, curved island that could accommodate our clients’ growing extended family. The original small kitchen island was removed as well, which instantly made the space feel larger and less cluttered. A large, curved island allowed for easy flow throughout the kitchen.

Coffee and Wine Nook

We replaced the original pantry with a much more user-friendly setup. The new design included a new coffee and wine nook (my favorite feature)! Great for every day, and entertaining! This allowed for a seamless transition into the dining room. Keeping to the grey and white palette, we paired grey quartz countertops with creamy white cabinets. To finish this stunning transformation, we painted a couple of coats of Sherwin Williams’ Dovetail, SW-7018.

BEFORE

In the original 90s-era layout, a solid wall separated the kitchen from the great room, causing the space to feel cramped and too small.
In the original 90s-era layout, a solid wall separated the kitchen from the great room, causing the space to feel cramped and too small.
Pre-remodel, the pantry was handy for storage, but without easy access or organization, it lacked functionality and felt overly full. Additionally, it was cumbersome with a swinging door and an immovable load-bearing header above and a mechanical chase in the corner (which we knew we had to later incorporate into our design).
Pre-remodel, the pantry was handy for storage, but without easy access or organization, it lacked functionality and felt overly full. Additionally, it was cumbersome with a swinging door and an immovable load-bearing header above and a mechanical chase in the corner (which we knew we had to later incorporate into our design).

RELATED: Foolproof Pantry Organization

The adjoining dining room was only accessible via a narrow hallway due to the placement of the pantry in the original layout, and the load-bearing header was visible just above the doorway.
The adjoining dining room was only accessible via a narrow hallway due to the placement of the pantry in the original layout, and the load-bearing header was visible just above the doorway.

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This wall hid the great room just beyond, creating a dark corner and a kitchen that felt closed in.
This wall hid the great room just beyond, creating a dark corner and a kitchen that felt closed in.
This back view of the wall separating the kitchen and great room shows just how small the kitchen appeared thanks to feeling completely closed off from the rest of the space.
This back view of the wall separating the kitchen and great room shows just how small the kitchen appeared thanks to feeling completely closed off from the rest of the space.

AFTER

A large curved kitchen island offered so much more seating capacity than its previous set up, in addition to visually opening up the space between the kitchen and great room.
A large, curved kitchen island offered so much more seating capacity than its previous set up, in addition to visually opening up the space between the kitchen and great room.
Creamy white cabinets offered a significant amount of storage options for the owners, along with ample countertop space for meal prep.
Creamy white cabinets offered a significant amount of storage options for the owners, along with ample countertop space for meal prep.
The new corner coffee and wine nook opened up the previously-closed off pantry space, providing essential daily function and a more spacious entrance to the dining room. In addition, we were able to keep the header in place in a visually appealing way by creating a soffit detail to hide it and make it appear as an intentional architectural element. Furthermore, the mechanical chase was strategically hidden by the slight bump out in the corner of the coffee nook between both cabinets.
We love this new corner coffee and wine nook!

By opening up the previously-closed off pantry space, we were able to provide essential daily function, storage, and a more spacious entrance to the dining room.

We were able to keep the header in place in a visually appealing way by creating a soffit detail and make it appear as an intentional architectural element.

Additionally, the mechanical chase was strategically hidden by the slight bump out in the corner of the coffee nook between both cabinets.

RELATED: Subway Tile Ideas and Inspiration

The now-opened up hallway between the kitchen and dining room became a new focal point, allowing for a unique display of our clients’ vintage wooden boards and paddles.
The now-opened up hallway between the kitchen and dining room became a new focal point, allowing for a unique display of our clients’ vintage wooden boards and paddles.
The new sink view provided a seamless transition between the kitchen and breakfast nook.
The new sink view provided a seamless transition between the kitchen and breakfast nook.

RELATED: How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget

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The Jordan Remodel

As you may have seen from our recent Jordan Project Reveal series, this home was firmly rooted in 1990s-era style. Individually partitioned and separated rooms, cherry trim and cabinets, and heavy built-ins were throughout the space. While the house itself was quite spacious, it didn’t feel that way. Closed off spaces caused a lack of flow between the kitchen and dining room.

An awkward 2-tier kitchen island lacks functionality and further closes off the space. Our clients were looking for more space for meal prep as well.

The living room, too, felt far too small, enclosed by angled walls, heavy arches, and wood columns. What the space needed was to be opened up dramatically to really take advantage of what it had to offer.

Creating an Open Concept Floor Plan

We made several drastic improvements to create an open concept. The entire space was opened up by removing the walls between the kitchen and adjoining spaces. The main floor instantly felt enormous by compared to its previous arrangement. Natural light was able to flow into every nook.

The kitchen, too, received a major upgrade with a spacious kitchen island that comfortably seats six. The new patio door creates a smooth transition from the newly-remodeled kitchen to the airy back screened-in porch. The resulting effect was a welcoming and bright space.

BEFORE

The original living room flowed into the kitchen, but despite the large entryway, it felt closed-off and too dark.
The original living room flowed into the kitchen, but despite the large entryway, it felt closed-off and too dark.

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Home is Stuck in the 90s

AFTER

Without a single wall separating the living room and kitchen, the space felt open and airy, yet still intimate, thanks to the strategic arrangement of the furniture and decor.
Without a single wall separating the living room and kitchen, the space felt open and airy, yet still intimate, thanks to the strategic arrangement of the furniture and decor.

RELATED: Neutral Paint Colors We Love!

BEFORE

Multiple walls separated the living room from the kitchen and entryway, with outdated and unnecessary intricate combinations of arches, columns, and built-in nooks.
Multiple walls separated the living room from the kitchen and entryway, with outdated and unnecessary intricate combinations of arches, columns, and built-in nooks.
The view from the kitchen to the living room was blocked by bulky walls and outdated light fixtures, making the space feel smaller than it actually was.
The view from the kitchen to the living room was blocked by bulky walls and outdated light fixtures, making the space feel smaller than it actually was.

RELATED: 90s Decor Trends to Ditch Right Now!

The archway and built-in wine and coffee nook in the original kitchen had the effect of creating a cramped space, and while it was functional, it was not aesthetically pleasing.
The archway and built-in wine and coffee nook in the original kitchen had the effect of creating a cramped space, and while it was functional, it was not aesthetically pleasing.
This space was the former home office, so in order to create a roomy dining space and larger kitchen, we opened this wall up and transformed it into a dedicated dining room.
This space was the former home office, so in order to create a roomy dining space and larger kitchen, we opened this wall up and transformed it into a dedicated dining room.

AFTER

The new dining room was open and connected to the rest of the main floor, allowing for easy access from the adjoining kitchen.
The new dining room was open and connected to the rest of the main floor, allowing for easy access from the adjoining kitchen.

RELATED: How to Hang Curtains the Right Way

An extra-spacious kitchen island anchored the newly remodeled space, providing seating for up to six people and plenty of room for meal prep and entertainment needs.
An extra-spacious kitchen island anchored the newly remodeled space, providing seating for up to six people and plenty of room for meal prep and entertainment needs.

RELATED: Quartz vs. Granite Countertops, How to Choose the Right One

A set of new sliding doors created a seamless visual transition between the kitchen and screen porch, allowing endless natural light to fill the space.
A set of new sliding doors created a seamless visual transition between the kitchen and screen porch, allowing endless natural light to fill the space.

If you’re looking to update your space, you may want to consider opening up your home’s layout. By knocking down some walls, you can entertain guests more easily, and enjoy a more spacious and light-filled home. If you’re ready for a change, consider opening up your 1990s layout. You’ll be glad you did!

For more 90s-era home updates and inspiration, click HERE.

Cheers
Carla

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Hi, I’m Carla

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I’m glad you’re here! You are in the right place if you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of embarking on a remodeling or interior design project. Living with an outdated home and don’t know where to start? I’ve helped families like yours update their home and create spaces that reflect what’s important to them for over 25 years.

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