[TRENDS] The Benefits of Closed Kitchen Design

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Last updated: April 9, 2023

The kitchen area is the heart of your home.

Recently, many kitchen design magazines have featured articles that claim that the closed kitchen design is making a big comeback for kitchen remodeling projects and new custom kitchens. Since the early 90s, open floor plan concepts have reigned supreme for their contemporary and midcentury modern homes because of spaciousness, airiness, and natural light supported by large ceiling height windows and glass doors.

In fact, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has reported twice, in the last twenty years, that the concept of the open kitchen and its integration with family spaces (family room, entertainment) remains popular as a functional kitchen design choice. EvolutDesign, and its writers, have written numerous articles on contemporary and midcentury modern design under its residential architecture and commercial architecture categories. You’ll find excellent examples with beautiful photos!

A closed kitchen, however, isn’t common in more rural locations where most homeowners still prefer their dining room and living room to be open and more spacious. They favor an open plan to create a family room, serving as the true heart of their homes. 

Building code has changed over decades, allowing interior designers, home builders, and architects to push the envelope of home design innovation. In one architecture write-up by our team, about the W Hotel in Osaka, Japan, some amazing interior design elements have already been used for residential and commercial settings. In Japan’s amazing W Hotel, there are design feature elements metal mesh curtains used in certain settings. The types of kitchens at W Hotel are designed as a social kitchen, with a large space and making it a popular option for many travelers.

Prewar apartment design and homes were commonly compartmentalized for different home activities. My parents owned a semi-detached home that had narrow hallways, a closed kitchen plan, and a number of interior walls for any small room, either for dining or family entertainment. Personally, this pre-war design wasn’t my favorite but many people love it for the added privacy.

In recent years, the closed kitchen layout has experienced growing demand with potential buyers and renters in major metropolitan areas such as New York where space is scarce and in demand. Kitchen size is much smaller in today’s modern condominiums, apartments, and townhomes. Ian Schrager, who famously co-founded/co-owned the Studio 54 nightclub in New York, is also recognized as the co-creator of the “boutique hotel”, which adopted many closed design elements.

A real estate firm by the name of Engel & Volkers found that the typical apartment kitchen accounted for six percent of the total square footage and with the open layout design revolution has increased to as much as eight percent of the apartment, with adjoining dining/living rooms.

closed kitchen design and interior white view of kitchen

A prewar design does provide distinct advantages. A great way involves separating the cooking process and food preparation from entertainment spaces. This can be done with an exterior wall and sliding door to separate cooking and to obscure the sight lines to ceiling cabinetry, countertop space, cabinet storage, and other work surface spaces such as your smaller new island.

Many people think it’s a great idea that an entire wall or even a fourth wall can add to open storage and help separate the 300-square-foot enclosed chef’s kitchen from public space because it helps reduce interruptions and with

Is a closed layout the right choice for your home, apartment, or condo? Or would you be better off with an open kitchen design? Let’s look at a few things before you make any decision on the type of design for your next kitchen renovation.

Table of Contents

What is a Closed Kitchen

Closed kitchens are kitchen spaces closed off from the rest of the house with one doorway or two. Narrow kitchens known as galley kitchens are considered standard in older homes and small apartments. Many restaurant prep kitchens have a closed floor plan as well. There are also bungalows with corner kitchens that are basically semi-closed rooms with solid walls. 

Advantages of Closed Kitchens

There are several good and sound reasons why many committed home chefs cannot help but fall in love with closed kitchen layouts. These include the following:

Available Storage

Average closed kitchens have more cabinetry compared to average open kitchens. These available kitchen cabinets can be very useful if you need to store lots of gear and you don’t want your actual cooking space to be invaded by your kitchen appliances. There are small kitchens that use open shelving in place of upper cabinets although solid walls are necessary to hold them.

Better Air Flow Management

With the lack of regulations on environmental protection that govern indoor residential kitchens, you and your family’s skin, digestive systems, and lungs end up as the filter for the mixture of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, ultra-fine and fine particles, and all other kinds of pollutants produced during meal preparation. 

Add to these the exposed features of the interior design of your living space and what you get is a pile of contaminants in the form of soot, odors, and chemical films on surfaces that are almost the same as those found in a smoker’s home. 

An enclosed kitchen can keep all these pollutants within the kitchen. It is also a good idea to design a suitable ventilation system without changing all the air inside your home.

Room Separation

Not all people want just one big room for the main floor of their home. A closed kitchen will let you design a family room that has its own dedicated TV or a formal dining area featuring a full-length dining table. 

Design Experimentation

You can remodel your small kitchen in a closed space and try a different current trend with no need to worry if they go well with adjacent rooms. A closed-plan contemporary kitchen lets you take more chances and experimentation freedom in the form of unique color palettes, wood-stained open shelves, and subway tile backsplash. 

Healthier Outcomes

Did you know that more than your appetite, your surroundings actually have a bigger influence on your eating habits? Did you also know that the biggest culprits behind these are actually some modern kitchen comforts?

Families with TVs and comfortable seating in their kitchen have the tendency to snack more. If you want to give your open space kitchen its much-needed makeover, the first thing you can do is make it less comfortable. Separate closed-off kitchens also make sure that unhealthy snacks are out of sight and out of mind. 

Hides the Mess

Now, this is possibly one of the top reasons why more people still opt for a closed kitchen. They want to prepare their meals in peace, leave the mess behind, and clear it away later on with no need for their guests to see the clutter while dining. 

The best and easiest way of hiding all this mess is to give homeowners the necessary tools they need to prevent them from making a mess in the first place in one great room. Sufficient dishwasher space or strategically placed additional dish drawer or two where you most need it can lessen the clutter.

A side counter space instead of a front and center one on your main serving island that houses the prep sinks complete with garbage disposal will ensure that pans and pots are stored properly and neatly. 

Eliminates Kitchen Islands and Impractical Hanging Exhaust Hoods

This kind of setup in an open layout simply doesn’t work. Stoves are meant to be against the wall. The exhaust hood must not be over 30 inches away from the range and the size must also be suitable for the appliance. It just makes sense for a big stove to always have a space of its own. 


Serious cooks can benefit a lot from a real chef’s kitchen that isolates them from disturbances in the rest of the home. A separate kitchen that doesn’t bleed into the dining room or living room can provide you with the much-needed dedicated private space for doing your work. 

It is that one aspect where closed kitchens shine more than an open-plan kitchen. If the last thing you want is for your guests to see you and observe you while you are busy cooking, working behind closed doors is the best way to keep it from happening. 

Sadly, being confined into your own space means you will have to miss out on all the fun. What you can do here is to carefully place your frequently used appliances and prep areas off to the sides or put up a half wall. Doing this keeps you out of the spotlight if you like while still letting you join in the conversation any time you want. 

A relatively new option for kitchen designs is to give yourself the chance to close off a section of the kitchen or the kitchen as a whole if you prefer to and keep it open most of the time. Barn doors and pocket doors that can slide out of the way can give you the best of both worlds as long as you plan for them on your project’s front end. 

Kitchen Odor

If you have ever tried frying fish in cramped and small spaces, you surely know all too well that even if it tastes delicious, the smell itself is far from being appetizing. In fact, even enticing odors such as an apple pie baking in your oven has the tendency to drift to other parts of your home. 

Sufficient ventilation placed at strategic locations with the right size suitable for your kitchen will ensure that the occasional smoke and all cooking smells will stay out of the other rooms in your house. 

Final Words

Both open concept floor plans and closed kitchen design have their own sets of pros and cons and the right one will depend on your personal preferences, needs, and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Some Advantages of an Open Design Kitchen

The open design kitchen has managed to win over the hearts of both homeowners and professional kitchen designers because of its numerous positive attributes. It allows better airflow and more natural light, ensures efficient space usage, provides an ideal gathering area, and creates a unified overall design. 

Disadvantages of an Open Concept Kitchen

Open concept kitchens also have disadvantages including less storage space, more need to keep things clean, and a need to be extra careful with design options.

Are Closed Kitchens Making a Comeback

Yes, the real estate section of the New York Times has repeatedly reported on closed kitchens trends, with recent surging interest, especially in apartments and new residential buildings

Are Open Concept Kitchens Going Out of Style

According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the countless architectural design and home improvement magazines, I’d say it’s easy to say that open concept kitchens are here to stay.

Do Kitchens Need a Door

Doors are not really needed between reception rooms and kitchens. You may want to consider insulated door curtains. They’re stylish, easy to install and offer insulation for cool air (warmth) and sound.

They are also opaque, allowing light to flow, but nothing else is visible for privacy. Have a look at the insulated door curtain from Sanijanker.

Insulated Door Curtain, Thermal Magnetic Self-Sealing EVA Door Screen, Keep Cold Out Door Cover Auto Closer for Kitchen, Bedroom, Air Conditioner Room,Hands Free, Fits Doors up to 36" x 82", Grey

Another option for insulated door curtains, also from Sanijanker, can be found on this page.

Insulated Door Curtain, Thermal Magnetic Self-Sealing EVA Door Screen Keep Cold Out Door Cover Auto Closer for Kitchen, Patio, Air Conditioner Room,Hands Free,Fits Doors up to 38" x 84", White

Is Seeing the Kitchen from the Front Door an Issue

Open kitchen concepts usually have the kitchen further back into a home’s layout. Seeing it from the front door shouldn’t really be an issue since it’s an open concept. The only issue is hiding the smell of great food from frothing guests when they arrive.

Can I put an Island in a Closed Kitchen

If you have a small or narrow kitchen, there might no longer be enough space for putting a kitchen island. To fit an island, you need an available space measuring 12 feet long by 10 feet wide or else, the feature will just overwhelm the room. Similarly, if you have an odd-shaped kitchen, an island might not easily fit into its design. 

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