In the process of building our new home we came up with several ideas for how a modern home should be organized. Some ideas we used, some got cut for various reason. Here are some of the ideas.
GIFT WRAPPING SPACE: We imagined a small workbench space just off the garage that is designed for wrapping gifts. It’s always someone’s birthday, either friend or family. And you want it near the garage because most gifts enter, get wrapped then exit or move to storage. That space didn’t make it into the final design.
HOME THEATER: Home theaters aren’t new. What we did different is locate ours (seats 10) adjacent to the family room, across from the kitchen. That way it’s integrated with the main entertainment area and near the food. The theater’s double doors will have a large circular glass center so the space is visually connected to the family room. It’s ideal for entertaining during the Superbowl, Oscars, Grammys, etc. because adjacent family room will have a smaller TV for the overflow crowd.
UNCONDITIONED FOYER: My pet peeve is huge foyers. A foyer just sits there looking pretty, sucking up your energy for heating and cooling. We built our foyer outside the conditioned space, within an entryway tower. When finished we hope it will have the same visual “pop” as an indoor foyer but without the energy suckiness.
CAT’S BATHROOM: We built a small space just off the laundry room for the cat’s litter box. Most houses have pets, but few are designed for them. We fixed that.
PING PONG GARAGE SPACE: Relative to the cost of building a house, adding a few feet to the garage is cheap, and you don’t need to heat or cool that space. In California, garage space is useful year round even unheated. So we included some extra space for a ping pong table. They’re great for entertaining. Everyone plays ping pong.
TEMPORARY HOLDING SPACE: Every time a member of the family enters the house, something gets plopped on a table surface. It might be school projects, the mail, something from a store, a DVD, an iPod, you name it. Every flat surface becomes the temporary holding place for things that belong elsewhere. Our new home won’t solve that problem, but I fantasize about a special room just off the garage that does nothing but hold all the crap that will later get sorted to appropriate storage places.
PROPER HOME OFFICE: When an office is designed in a home, it’s usually the space just off the front door. I can’t imagine a worse place for an office. A working office will generally be a bit messy, a tangle of cords, and not the first impression you want to leave guests. My office will be upstairs, on a corner, away from the action of the house, with a view. And the room will be largish. If you intend to work in a home office for ten hours a day, you don’t want it to be a closet.
TOY JAIL: This is a closet on the first floor, near the stairway to the second floor, used for jailing any toys that the kids neglected to pick up and bring back to their rooms. The closet isn’t locked. It’s just a way for the adults to tuck the debris out of the way when they want things tidy in a hurry.
MOM’S COMPUTER COCKPIT: Our current townhouse is small and didn’t have any extra rooms for the home computer. So the computer ended up in what should have been the living room, just off the main entry. This turned out to be accidentally brilliant because the computer is central to all the activity in the house and it gets used day and night. It is especially handy having it on the path to the garage because we always need to check e-mail or directions on the way out. Our new home has the computer cockpit just off the kitchen/family area, right next to the door to the garage.
NO MUSEUM ROOMS: Few things are a bigger waste of space than a formal living room. Our new home won’t have one. That’s the square footage that should be your home office, if you need one, or your home theater.
Another big waste of space is a formal dining room that is in its own area away from the action. Our dining room table will be integrated with the kitchen/family room area and casual in design, probably with bench seating. If the Queen wants to visit, we’ll throw a tablecloth over it.
OUTDOOR LIVING: Relative to the cost of the house, it’s inexpensive to include a large roofed patio, or lanai. In California you can use it most of the year. I expect it to be the most popular space in our home, and it costs the least. Depending on your insect situation, you might prefer a screened porch for the same reason.
NO HALLWAYS: We tried to design the home with as few hallways as possible. Hallways are a waste of space and energy. We designed our family room to be the connecting space for most of the downstairs rooms. We couldn’t avoid all hallways, but we tried to make use of them for other functions where possible.
CHRISTMAS TREE CLOSET: It’s a bother to crawl around in the attic every December to get the holiday decorations, only to be putting them away a month later. We designed a closet just off the family room that will hold all the holiday stuff, just yards from where most of it needs to be in December. As soon as I convince my wife that artificial trees are the way to go (a tough sale) I will be on easy street. Every year I’ll have the tree up and decorated in about five minutes.
WIRING CLOSET: We have a closet where all the wiring will meet. It’s located roughly in the center of the house and shares a wall with the home theater, housing that equipment as well. That will make life easier as technology evolves.