some thoughts on house design

I am really interested in what makes a house look classically good inside and out on a daily basis. One thing that I think helps is to have somewhere to put everything. You have the unique opportunity to organize your house by designing in good systems. Fabulous storage is essential. And I also love just feeling comfortable, which means, for instance, putting a seat in the place where you take off your shoes. I like to take off my shoes at the front door because I live in a place that has tons of mud and I’m a gardener thus a seat near the front door appears frequently in my designs. I believe in living simply but comfortably so I am constantly playing with how much space I really need. Below is a list of common elements that I like to include in my designs and my thoughts on them.

* A wide porch with a roof so you feel a transition moving from car to house, so you have a protected place to set your groceries when you are coming in and for hanging out when you want to read or visit with friends in a place that is outside but still has the comfort of inside (it’s nice not to have to be wary of slugs when your blind grandmother comes to visit)

* An entryway so you don’t have to stand in the livingroom dripping wet on the carpet or see the clutter if your child has decided not to hang her snowsuit up.

* Staircases near the front door so you can run up to get the thing you forgot without running through the whole house.

*Rooms that are cul-de-sacs so that you don’t have people running through the rooms to get other places disrupting the activities, conversations or the peace of the room

*Having public rooms in very close proximity so people can still feel connected and not too isolated

* A bathroom near the door. Helps with taking off wet/muddy things, makes dashes to the bathroom easier, keeps bathroom activities (noises/smells) more separate from common rooms.

* Closets for cleaning supplies near the kitchen, office stuff near the front door (so that incoming mail receipts can go there without being viewed by guests), adult games near the livingroom, dishes near the diningroom (preferably between the kitchen and the diningroom over the sink/dishwasher), linens near the bedrooms and towels near the bathroom. A pantry. A place for trash and recycling. Closets and pegs for coats near the front door.

*Having a bedroom on the ground floor if at all possible so that people who are less mobile and unable to use the stairs can get in and out of the house easily. This ideally doubles as a guest room so that guests can go outside or get a cup of coffee in the morning without waking anyone else up and as an temporary workroom so that any office or other work (such as taxes) that needs to be done can be left out without getting dangerously disarranged.

* Near the guest room it is nice to have a WC with a shower on the first floor so that less mobile people can wash more easily.

* Having a laundry on the second floor near the family bedrooms. I should say that in the cold climate I live in, people tend to build  two story houses since they are easier to heat than large sprawling ranches (heat goes up). Family bedrooms generally go on the second floor because it protects them and makes the public rooms easier to get to for guests.

* I also like to have a full bath on the second floor because I think I was a mermaid in a previous life. The winter my child was a baby we used to sometimes take bathes three times a day, just for fun. Not very economical but cheaper than therapy. I love swimming in the summer and Maine has tons of beautiful clean fresh water ponds. In the winter public pools are ok but the chlorine can be a little nasty. If the bath is on the second floor near the laundry and the bedrooms it makes it easy to pick up clean clothes and stash dirty ones afterward.

*I like to have most of the public rooms on the south side of the house so as to get as much sunshine as I can in the winter. An outside table accessed from the dining room is nice so you can go outside to eat if you choose. A pergola and some sort of vine over it is also nice on the south side for those very hot days in summer. Perennial vines have the added attraction that they lose their leaves in the winter so adding needed light in the winter.

* I have come to the conclusion that the dining room and living room need to be close but separated auditorily from each other and that the best thing is if the living room has a door on it. That way you have an away room for people to be in to visit, listen to music or watch videos without intruding on the rest of the house. Or curl up with a book. You could have a separate away room, in the downstairs bedroom but that would take more furniture to make it comfy enough to be a really nice lounging room. And it would change the feel of that room away from a bedroom retreat. For my needs I find two public spaces to be enough since we like to hang out at our huge dining room table to have coffee/tea or play games with guests.