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We continue to hear that the average square footage of homes in the U.S. is shrinking and many buyers, especially the baby boomers, are considering down-sizing. Does that mean we’re finished building large homes? Certainly not. However, rather than building homes that are either too big or too small, we need to build them just the right size.
Instead of creating homes with multiple specific-use areas, such as formal dining rooms and isolated media rooms, consider the fact that many buyers are attracted to more flexible designs that include the home theater in the family room and a dining room that doubles as a craft area or library. Instead of a dedicated study, buyers are going with a compact resource center or pocket office with a laptop computer, desk, and file drawers.
Overall, right-sizing a house requires floor plans with smarter traffic flow, flexible spaces, and overall efficiency in both material and energy use. The House Review design team presents an array of homes that range from relatively small cottages to larger, more luxurious designs. However, each has been right-sized to be very efficient and functional, while maintaining a great deal of curb appeal and interior design flair.
Can you build a house tight enough to stay toasty in frigid temperatures without relying on a furnace? Yes you can! I sat in on a seminar a couple weeks ago about a house who’s total heating needs were the same wattage as a hair dryer.
Contact me to learn more about building a house with little (or no) heating and cooling needs. They cost more to build, but not as much as you might think.
Just think of it … add some Photovoltaics (PV) panels and no electric bills. Exciting to think about and even more exciting to build!
These beautiful counter tops are from Bearhillwoods (my father-in-law). He can make counter tops, tables, workbenches, and other custom order items with these beautiful African hardwoods. Contact me for more information and to order (firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-221-5829).
6. Drawers could be called the great equalizer. All of us benefit from bringing things closer to us without straining. Even most moderately priced cabinetry offers drawers. Today’s drawer appliances, dishwashers, microwave ovens, refrigerators, to name a few – are in demand from people, and particularly those in the Boomer segment.
7. In both the kitchen and the bath, not only drawers, but doors that go away are a strong trend. Whether they fold to the side, swing up, recess in or otherwise open, getting them out of the way while one is accessing what’s behind them is good. Hardware has been created and improved so that there have never been more options.
8. In the bath, let’s start with the vanity area and talk knee spaces. People are requesting designs that include the option of sitting for at least some of the tasks at hand. Today’s lavatory designs invite an open knee space and they are, at last, a strong trend.
9. Have you ever seen more choices in toilets? The trend is definitely to comfort- or right-height seats and, given the choice, I plan more than one height, to accommodate changing needs and varied user heights, when doing a whole house. Although this trend is still designer-instigated, clients are responding strongly to the many additional options becoming available, including heated and self-closing seats, personal hygiene, dual-flush, etc.
10. No-threshold showers have begun to take hold with not just designers, but with builders and consumers, as well. When containment of water is planned carefully based on the size, position, direction and amount of water flowing, the extent of waterproof layer, the slope of floor, type and location of drains, and the plan for doors, curtains or open entries, this is a wonderful choice.
It is my opinion, as a home designer, that every home should have a large, covered front porch.
A front porch is many things. It is a place to welcome guests to your home. It is a place to get in out of the weather. A front porch is a transitionary place between the outside world and the inner world of your home. It is a place to cool off out of the summer sun and to warm up in the sun rays of winter.
Most of all, a covered front porch is a place to connect with people, with your neighbors as they walk by on the street or as they go to get their mail. A front porch is a place to sit and converse about the the meaning and purpose of life or to talk about the football game. It’s a place to sit with guests and talk about the latest book they’ve read or about how to better love our families. A front porch is a place to talk theology and politics because they need to be talked about. It’s a place to play a game of checkers or chess. A front porch is many things…
The Front Porch Hall of Fame is an honor given to people who make for good company in any front porch conversation.
My first inductee to The Front Porch Hall of Fame is T.K. Murphy known to most as “Murphy” or simply “Murph”. He was a man of God who served God with his life. He loved God’s Church and served God’s Church. He was a reader; he had the largest personal library of which I know. He was a student of the Scriptures. He was a memorizer of the Scriptures, whole books were recorded in his memory. He was a preacher/teacher. He was a student of history. He was a family man – loving his wife and three boys. Murphy was from the South. He lived many years in Alaska, several in Eugene, and most recently in the ranching country of Eastern Oregon. Murphy only wore jeans and boots. He was a leatherworker, who owned a leather business. All of these attributes (and so much more), combined with his personality, made Murphy fine Front Porch material. Murphy passed from this life to the next this morning (8/13/11). He is missed.
[From: The Acorn]
A new home design center recently opened in The Oaks mall. Last week I toured the center looking at a majestic Jacuzzi tub, lovely bathroom fixtures, highend appliances, and solid wood kitchen cabinets.
Approaching the salesperson to compliment him on his beautiful store, I asked him if the company incorporates any elements of Universal Design. He directed me to their corporate website, which had no mention of the principle.
The design center is not alone—in fact, it is in the majority.
“Not incorporating elements of Universal Design in remodels is unfortunately quite common,” said Holly Spiegel, senior design consultant at Adaptive Design Associates in Westlake Village.
“Many consumers are unaware of the concept,” Spiegel continued. “Universal Design is intended to simplify everyday life by making products and using designs to create comfortable and functional environments for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Many designers overlook this important concept in remodeling plans or incorporate only the simplest of elements.”
Traditional homes are designed for average families and can limit the independence and functionality of some residents. Most singlefamily homes built today, and certainly those build 20 to 30 years ago, do not contain Universal Design elements. As we age and as our homes age, updates should include Universal Design features.
Universal Design concepts in a kitchen remodel take into consideration people of all heights and ages. Remodel elements may include kitchen counters of varying heights and a microwave placed at countertop height. These changes allow a 10-year old or an 80-yearold to comfortably navigate the kitchen.
Other kitchen modifications assist those with physical disabilities. Lever faucets are easier to turn off and on for weak hands. Building in knee space under the sink can be used by a family member who may need to sit while washing dishes. Large roll-out drawers make it easier for those with limited reach. Wide doorways facilitate the use of a wheelchair or walker as well as make it easier to move in that new refrigerator or stove.
Bathroom remodels utilizing Universal Design concepts include a curbless shower with adjustable hand-held controls. After a recent Achilles tendon tear, Peter, an avid runner now on crutches, was happy his remodel included both.
Floors and bathtubs with nonslip surfaces help everyone stay on their feet. Handrails and grab bars in bathrooms are great for young and old. Lever door handles and rocker light switches support those with poor hand strength but are also good when your arms are full of laundry or towels.
The market for homes with Universal Design features that allow residents to “age in place,” or remain in their home as they age, will increase. Most boomers say they want to age in place. In the next 10 years, 20 percent of the population will be over the age of 65 and the over-85 population will triple. Making home updates in our 50s and 60s will allow us to live safely and independently for many years to come.
If a kitchen or bath remodel is in your future, you may want to consider using a Certified Agingin Place Specialist. A CAPS professional has been trained in the unique needs of the older adult population. Rather than offering a product, Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists offer a service, such as designing a kitchen or bath remodel with UD design elements that are also aesthetically pleasing.
To find a CAPS professional go to http://www.nahb.org/directory a nd choose CAPS under designation.
Universal Design features allow you to enjoy your home as your needs and lifestyle change, living with kids, grandkids, an aging or injured loved ones.
Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks is providing this column. Senior Concerns is a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and western Los Angeles counties.
For more information, visit www.seniorconcerns.org, and for comments or questions, e-mail email@example.com.