Decades ago, the gritty downtown loft occupied by artists and other entrepreneurs working from home was hardly envied, except perhaps for its generous square footage and large industrial windows.

As with many favored looks, its appeal broadened over time to less industrial areas of cities, as well as to suburbia and single-family homes. The open plan’s design concept got spiffed up even more, so that pipes often were hidden and walls and ceilings finished with drywall.

Since the housing industry has recovered, with inventory even tight in markets nationwide, many builders and developers are constructing multifamily buildings, single-family houses and townhomes from the ground up with open-shared living spaces. “It’s been the dominant trend over the last 10 years and reflects today’s lifestyle,” says Allison Bethell, a Miami broker and real-estate investor analyst with “Homeowners want to be in a kitchen watching their children while they also entertain, or couples without children want to cook and entertain with guests seated at an island, maybe, enjoying wine. Or someone may be working on the side on a laptop or watching TV,” she says.

In fact, the open-plan layout has become one of the top features buyers want, Bethell says, citing a 2015 National Association of Home Builders’ survey ( According to the survey, 70 percent of recent and prospective homebuyers said they prefer a home with either a completely or partially open kitchen-family room arrangement, and 32 percent prefer the arrangement completely open.