Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Home Design Tips for a Functional & Fabulous Family House

Home Design Tips for a Functional & Fabulous Family House

There is no place more important for a family than their home. It's where bonds are strengthened, memories are made, and love is shared. A family home should be a place to recharge and reconnect, share the small moments and the big ones, retreat from the world and create your own private haven. Your home design and decor can help it feel more like a place to unwind and relax. Families grow and change over the years, and their space must be able to stand up to these changes and the rigors of time. So when you think about designing and decorating the ideal family space, we need to think of flexibility first and foremost - to create a space that works not only for the here and now, but for always. Here are some things to keep in mind!


Making Good Choices

Design is all about selection and curation, and in order to make that process successful for you and your family, you need to be very clear on the specific spatial needs your family has. It could be that you all play instruments and need a soundproof music room. It could be that you love movie nights and need a big screen and a long corner sofa where you can all snuggle up. You might love throwing parties and need a multi-functional indoor/outdoor space for entertaining. Only you are best placed to understand the preferences and rhythms of your family life, so you must design your home according to them, rather than to current trends in homebuilding. It's the only way to ensure you get a space that will really suit your family in the long-term. It's not about design that pleases everyone else. It's about what works for you. Prior to house hunting, my husband and I sat down and went through all the rooms we wanted, the functions we needed those rooms to serve now and in the future, and the overall space we wanted in a house (and in a yard-don't neglect the outside space). I know big open rooms and loft spaces are popular now, but that didn't really work for our family. We wanted more defined spaces and no lofts because of the noise issue they could cause with small kids. That helped to cut down the amount of houses we saw in person and narrow down which ones we thought about putting an offer on. 

A Lover Of Light

It sounds simple, but before you even begin choosing kitchen counters and tile, take a moment to consider the orientation of your home, how the existing space is sited and how the sun moves around the plot that you have. A well designed home is one that makes the most of the available light. Airy, open spaces have a huge impact on our mood and wellbeing, and if you ever choose to eventually sell the home, gorgeous naturally lit rooms can help put offers on the table! Studies have shown that mental and physical health is better when you access to natural light. So it makes sense to centre the design of a space - whether it be a renovation, an extension, a new build, or new home- around the best positioning for light. With the growing move to build in an environmentally conscious manner, you will be can also look to take advantage of natural patterns in light and shade to help heat and cool your home and lower your utility bills and environmental impact. Good design should always take account of ongoing running and maintenance costs as well as the immediate budget involved in the build or renovation project. You may not have realized how much of an impact light in your home has on your mood. If you are choosing a floor plan from scratch, position the rooms to catch as much sunlight as you can, or consider the layout of both windows, and also other elements like skylights, roof lanterns and sun traps. Then bring in other elements, such as the overhang of a roof or external landscaping to provide some shading.


Stay Connected

Family homes are all about making and keeping connections. This operates on so many levels, from visual sight lines and the way space can be designed to facilitate conversation and togetherness, to making sure there is a strong Wi-Fi signal where the kids do their homework. We are all veterans of multi-tasking these days, with our super busy lifestyles meaning that we need to focus on many different things at once. Good family home design can help with this. Young, growing families often mean parents needing to work or get on with daily chores while supervising their children. Open plan living spaces can make this job a lot easier or configuring rooms with this idea in mind. For example, my kitchen as a clear line of sight to the sunroom so I can watch my kids play while cooking. We also have seating at our kitchen island so Claire can work on reading or schoolwork while talking with me as I cook or clean. If you have an open floor plan, you can still create a natural division within a larger open plan space with furniture items like bookcases or storage units. This technique is especially useful when it comes to creating a cozy corner for study. This can be useful as a homework desk for children or somewhere for you to quickly send emails or do household accounts and bill paying. It allows the family to stay connected while pursuing separate activities, which is key. You can also then supervise computer use for younger children and have a natural space to keep the family calendar, meal planning lists, notices from school and other incoming admin. You can also make great use of island countertops as a space that does double duty for casual meals, impromptu conversations or a homework zone. It's all about creating a space where the natural dynamics flow and enable people to naturally congregate. Comfortable seating arranged around a central area works well. You can even create a drink station where family and visitors can help themselves to tea and coffees easily without being in the way of someone cooking in the kitchen. We did this in our kitchen and I have been loving it! Claire even loves to use this area to make coffee for my husband in the morning. Your set up can include cups and mugs, a cookie jar and biscotti, some flavored syrups, sweeteners, and one of these cool bean machines


Get The Flow Right

It's a hard thing to quantify, but getting the flow of a space right can really make or break it, as well as determine how much use you get from it. A lot can be achieved by simply reconfiguring your space to get the most out of your floor plan. Make sure the rooms that need to be connected, such as your dining room, kitchen and utility room are. Materials and finishes should also be chosen with durability in mind. It's a false economy to select the cheapest option- finishes that are more hard wearing are always going to serve you better and not have to be replaced every few years. Plus, wood, stone and other natural materials are attractive in their own right and will give you a home that is beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use. We had original hardwood flooring in our old home that we refinished that looked beautiful even after over 50 years! Sometimes better finishes like that will wear better and you can refinish them for much less money when needed. 


Bust The Clutter

Great family home design has another element that needs careful consideration, too -storage! Kids come with a lot of stuff and whether you're dealing with baby equipment, playsets and toys or the hobbies and sports of a teenager, you're going to need to find space for a whole heap of stuff. If you don't want your home to be constantly untidy, then designing in proper storage solutions is an absolute must! If you get the chance to design a space exactly how you want to, don't neglect this important consideration. And always plan for more storage than you think you need. You can could add in a butlers pantry, a beautiful walk-in closet, a medicine cabinet built into the wall, or extra storage in the garage. With all that storage there can be a place for everything and no reason to be afraid to give a home tour! If you have awkward or unused space anywhere in your home, consider getting a carpenter to build in shelving, cupboards or cabinetry to make that space functional. And when it comes to furniture, you can pick items that come with hidden storage and do double duty, like an ottoman or sofa with storage in the base. Open shelving units can hold storage baskets that are great for cleaning up in a hurry- simply allocate each type of item (paperwork, toy cars etc) to a basket and make a game of tidying up with the kids. I did this with the art center we have in the basement and it's wonderful and makes clean up a breeze! If you are designing a room from scratch, you can also include little touches that hide away clutter, such as designing a charging station which hides away gadgets like mobile phone and tablets securely in a drawer while they're charging up and saves a mess of tangled cables being on display. You can also have outlets placed inside cupboards in the kitchen so that appliances like blenders, mixers and espresso machines can be hidden away easily. We have a Kitchen Aide cabinet that allows me to store my mixer while plugged in and then pull it out and lock the shelf so it is level with the counter top to use it. So easy!


Perfecting your home or designing it from scratch can be a labour of love, but a few thoughtful tricks can make all the difference and turn your space into the ideal place to spend time together, share your day, reconnect with your partner or the kids and enjoy family life together. At the end of the day, our homes are enablers of the lifestyle we want to lead, so well thought out design and furnishings are critical to make sure your house suits your family best.

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