Monday, January 18, 2010

New Year, New Space: Rethinking "Space"

If you are thinking of re-arranging, remodeling, buying, or building, it's important to think about, or re-think, spatial relationships. It will help you consider how much space you need to think of your rooms and home in terms of meeting your needs, not as places to house furniture.

  • Cozy TV viewing area: Think about how much space you actually need in the "living" room if it's basically a TV viewing area. I have seen new houses with large living areas where the couch is placed 12' from the massive TV. You can go with a smaller TV and place the couch/coffee table/chair arrangement closer. Along these lines......
  • Switch it up: If you have a formal dining room and one living area, consider switching them. (I will refer to the one living area as a "family" room) A few years ago, my mom, who is gifted in interior decorating, switched the formal dining room and family room, and it works wonderfully. In many homes, the one living area serves as the next stop off of the entry foyer and a circulation hub of the home, which is not an ideal space for TV viewing. Now, the large area meant to be the family room serves as a formal dining area, sitting room, and library, in addition to being the central circulation area. The TV viewing/music/couch area is now in what was meant to be the formal dining room, which is a more cozy, smaller space. Also, many formal dining rooms end up collecting dust, and this arrangement makes it a centerpiece in your home, to show off treasured centerpieces or flowers, and remains active thanks to shared use, reminding you to break out the china for a family dinner more often.
  • Keep the bedroom sacred: There really needs to be nothing else in the master bedroom besides a bed. The bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleeping, free of clutter, dirty clothes, and papers. Today, closets are large enough for dressers, and if you have a TV, it can be mounted on the wall. And of course, no computers allowed.
  • To save square footage in kids rooms, get creative: When I was little, my dad built me an elevated platform bed, and every night was like playing in a tree house. He constructed built-ins on wheels to go underneath, so that I could rearrange them and use them for whatever I wanted. A platform bed is a win-win: kids love them, and they make use of wasted cubic feet above a child's head. Also, with growing concerns about what kids will find on the internet, you can keep the computers and work spaces out of their rooms: homework progress and computer use can be monitored from a shared computer desk or media space. (When they do need privacy later, they can use a laptop in their room).
  • Section off a space: Use a sliding door or room divider from Raydoor or The Sliding Door Company to section of a room, or part of a room, to create an office or split a shared bedroom. Or, if you like the previous tip to convert a master closet to a different room, use sliding doors to section off a portion of the master bedroom to create a closet.
  • Go outside: Covered outdoor spaces and defined "rooms" can double the living area of your house. In Seattle specifically, there are at least 4 months where you do not need to condition your living space, so life can spill over to the outdoors.
Thinking about space in a new way can help you save money in building, buying or remodeling. Say that you leave off one bedroom at 120 square feet, if the cost to build your house is $150 a square foot, you save $18,000 + interest (not to mention the cost over the years to clean, furnish, heat, cool and maintain that space). By considering how you actually use space, you may find you can live with less square footage.

1 comment:

  1. Space is really a problem especially if you're living in a stacked apartment.