Over the weekend I met a woman who's building a vacation house. She told me her architect had suggested leaving the kitchen open to the living room, great room-style, but that she felt very uncomfortable with this idea. She said she wanted some separation between the kitchen and the living area, so she and the architect compromised on a partial wall that blocks off much of the food prep space.

This reminded me of another conversation I had just last week, with an architect who had designed a lovely house outside Minneapolis. Again, the kitchen is partially open to a family room, but not in that fully open, loft-like way you see more frequently. Visual and physical barriers create a sense of separation, and the kitchen feels very much like its own distinct space. "The clients liked the idea of a traditional house with rooms," the architect told me.

So I'm wondering--is this a trend? In my experience, homeowners have over the past decade expressed a consistent desire to have the kitchen and living/dining or family rooms completely integrated. Are people now moving back toward wanting a clearer division of spaces? I'd love to hear from other architects, builders, and clients who have thoughts on the matter. Please post your comment, or email me at mdrueding@hanleywood.com. --m.d.