The original plan (above) has two major problems: A protruding kitchen counter interrupts traffic flow and takes space from the family room, and there's no buffer between the public space of the family room and the private master suite. In the improved version, removing the kitchen peninsula allows foot traffic to take a direct path from the garage to the bedrooms. The addition of a short hallway to the master suite sacrifices some of the walk-in closet in the master suite, but adds privacy and improves the family room by eliminating through traffic.
The original plan (above) has two major problems: A protruding kitchen counter interrupts traffic flow and takes space from the family room, and there's no buffer between the public space of the family room and the private master suite. In the improved version, removing the kitchen peninsula allows foot traffic to take a direct path from the garage to the bedrooms. The addition of a short hallway to the master suite sacrifices some of the walk-in closet in the master suite, but adds privacy and improves the family room by eliminating through traffic.

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.

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