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Design Considerations – Function First – Part 2

Making your home efficient and functional for your family, for your lifestyle.

In the last blog I talked about individual room considerations. Now let’s consider the bigger and more general functional needs of your home:

Entertaining – Consider the size and type of entertaining you do and how often. Think about the areas of your home that you want to use for these purposes. They will be different for different scenarios. For example, a child’s birthday party is different than a teenager’s graduation party and that is different than an adult dinner party. You want to make sure the spaces you plan to use will be adequate to handle the amount of guests you typically entertain.

Another consideration when thinking about entertaining is where do other family members go when they are not part of the party or event – where do the other children and adults go when the teenagers are having a party and likewise where do the children go when the adults are over – no one wants to feel like they are being banished to their rooms during these events.

Also consider staging areas for food and drink places where you can layout your delicious spread. A well placed electrical receptacle can eliminate extension cords across the floor which could be a safety hazard, not to mention unsightly.  

You may also want to consider a sound system that can feed music to multiple areas of the home including outside decks or patios.

What bathrooms will be used when entertaining? Many homes have a powder room right off the foyer – you may want to consider a different location so that your guests can have a little more privacy. Is there an opportunity to have a second bathroom accessible to your guests without them having to walk through one of the bedrooms. Simply adding a door with hallway access can help eliminate this problem.

Flow – You should avoid bottlenecks – spaces that are used during larger parties or events with only one way in and out. Also avoid long lineal flow which can also cause bottlenecks. Having multiple ways to move throughout the inside and outside during parties and events is a great asset for any home.

Light - Light is very important – do you want morning light in certain rooms like the master bedroom or kitchen area? – some people do and some people don’t. Do you like to put makeup on with natural light? How will the light affect artwork, fabrics, or flooring? Will there be glare on TV’s or video screens. The site orientation and location of the rooms in the plan will have a significant impact on what light comes in and when – so plan for it.

Furniture – It may seem obvious to but measure the furniture you have now and lay it out to scale on any proposed plans you are considering to make sure what you have or plan to have fits in the space you are planning.

Special personal needs - Think about display areas for the important pictures and mementos that are unique to your family. Do you have enough wall space for pictures? Do you need display area for mementos, decorations, or art pieces? Other special considerations could include pre-planned design cellars, areas for crafts or other hobbies, a sewing area, a gift wrapping station, and even basement areas with batting or golf swing cages. We’ve even put a bowling alley in the basement of a house we built. Anything is possible – you just need to bring your ideas to the table when meeting with your design professional.

Finally,  think about adaptable or universal design that allows you and your family members to use all of the home through special design features like wheel-under vanities, wheel-in showers, lever handles on doors, lower switches and higher receptacles, even floor transitions between rooms, ramps that don’t feel like ramps, elevators or chair lifts. These are just a few of the examples of features that can be designed into your home to make it more accessible and easy to use.

The moral if the story is this: your home is where you spend most of your time, it’s where you live. Your home design should be one that helps you live the lifestyle you want, and should be planned in way that all family members can enjoy themselves and have the security and sanctuary from all the outside world throws at us. Our home should make living easier, not harder for us – with good design and planning it can be and much, much more.

Next up – Architectural styling.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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