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Over the last ten years or so, residential designers have made tremendous progress in offering open floor plans. Eliminating long hallways and unnecessary walls are both good ways to impart a spacious feel. Too much emphasis on openness, however, can lead to a floor plan that looks great on paper but doesn't work very well for the homeowner.
One of the most critical elements of any floor plan is its handling of traffic patterns — the routes that occupants follow as they travel from one room to another. Fortunately, it's not difficult to determine how well a given floor plan performs in this respect: Just imagine living in the house and walking from one area to another.