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Making Room at the National Building Museum; photo by Yassine el Mansouri (4)_preview

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America

Content posted from The Open House Resource Guide provided by The National Building Museum. Animations created by Neoscape , developed with Resource Furniture and Clei, courtesy The National Building Museum.

MAKING ROOM focuses on a much-needed spotlight on the mismatch between the diversity of our households and the homogeneity of our housing.

The Open House is the centerpiece of the exhibition and demonstrates how thoughtful and flexible design solutions can transform the way we live.

Designed by architect Pierluigi Colombo, The Open House expertly addresses the needs of three prototypical—and increasingly common—households; roommates, a multi-generational family, and empty nesters. The 1,000-square-foot home features a hyper-efficient layout, smart technologies, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture.

The Roommates

On view November 18, 2017 to late February, 2018

To accommodate a roommate household—in this case, a couple and two single adults—the layout of The Open House maximizes private space. When the moveable walls are fully closed, each roommate has complete privacy; when fully retracted, with the touch of a button, bedrooms can be combined to create a larger room for socializing. The couple shares one bathroom while the roommates share the other, and they all use the communal kitchen. Each bedroom, including the larger one shared by the couple, is outfitted with a space-saving wall bed and built-in storage.

The Extended Family

On view March to late May, 2018

To meet the needs of a multi-generational household, The Open House accommodates living communally, but with flexibility. In this scenario, a grandmother lives with her adult daughter and grandson. During the day, the moveable walls can be open to share living spaces—although the grandmother’s space is tucked away if she wants to retreat. In the evening, the moveable walls allow them to carve out a dedicated bedroom for the grandson. This allows the adults to move freely throughout the rest of the space when the child is asleep, and even entertain.

The Empty Nesters

On View June to September 16, 2018
To serve a two-in-one household, The Open House seamlessly becomes two independent homes. Here, an older couple who want to stay in their existing home can nevertheless downsize by converting the largest bedroom into a self-contained studio apartment. They can rent out the apartment for additional income, provide the space to a live-in caregiver, or welcome home any of their adult children. Each unit has its own entrance, full bath, and kitchen area. The couple’s no-step, walk-in shower has retractable walls which can free up floor space should either of them need a walker or wheelchair. Likewise, the kitchen’s fixtures, cabinetry, and appliances have been optimized for a limited range of motion.

The footprint and key features of The Open House will remain constant throughout the exhibition’s run, and include:

- An eat-in kitchen designed for varying ages and abilities, with countertops and sinks at two heights, and plenty of accessible storage

- 2 full baths with fixtures and fittings chosen for flexibility and ease of use

- 3 living areas outfitted with transformative furniture allowing each space to double as a private bedroom

- A walk-in closet with a pocket-door that incorporates storage

- A walk-in laundry room

- Movable walls

- An integrated smart home network Exhibit Information:

The Open House has been designed to meet the District of Columbia’s residential building code, as well as follow the general guidelines set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Making Room: Housing for a Changing America

November 18, 2017—September 16, 2018

Visit for more information, related programming, and additional content.

Museum Hours

Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm


- $10 for adults

- $7 for youth, students, and seniors

- $3 a person for Building Zone only

- Free for museum members

- Free access to the Great Hall, historic building tours, Museum Shop, and café.

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From AJ Madison: We partnered with Electrolux, Miele, and Elica to participate in The National Building Museum’s newest exhibition, Making Room. We provided all of the appliances for this exhibit - shop the look today.


The appliances we used to outfit The Open House are listed below.


- MasterCool Series 30" Built-In Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator

- PureLine M-Touch Series 30" Single Electric Oven

- 30" Induction Cooktop

- Lumen EcoFlex Fully Integrated Dishwasher


- 24" Front Load Washer

- 24" Ventless Electric Dryer