Evolving rooms and flexible spaces.

restored homes, home remodel, home renovation

According to recent data, the average American home has grown to over 2,000 square feet, costs over $200,000, has 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room and eat-in kitchen.  In our minds we have our dream house.  It has all the rooms we need and in the layout and style we want.  The open floor plan or closed, two story, ranch walkout or contemporary split, we want it and dream that one day we’ll have it.  The house will have a finished basement, media room, study, play room, craft corner, upstairs laundry, master suite, four season porch, finished attic, teen getaway, in-law apartment, mud room, man cave, wine room, heated garage, yoga room, greenhouse and so on.  The list goes on and the dreams get bigger.  Heck, after all of that, a simple separate guest room doesn’t sound so hard. 

Taking these points and adding all of the rooms mentioned above, the dream house grows quickly to +5,000 square feet and costs $800,000 and upwards.  That is a lofty ambition!  If you live in a highly sought after metro area, double that $800,000.  I’m here to discuss all of these enjoyable rooms and figure out how to get those functions into a manageable sized house and mortgage. 

First, before anything, de-junk your house.  Purge all unused items out of your space, it’s too expensive to fill with stuff you don’t use.  Sell, donate, pass along, throw out, just make it leave.  Clothes that don’t fit, rusty baking pans, old books, uncomfortable shoes, anything that doesn’t bring you joy or used daily is taking up expensive real estate in your home.  Let it continue its journey and set yourself free!  I recommend every season to get the stuff under control and from then on once a year to maintain the balance.  (I will address storage in general in another month’s blog).  

Now you’ve carved out some empty corners in your house, let’s figure out how to better utilize them.  If you analyze the list of dream rooms, they can usually fall into three categories: noisy activity, quiet hobby, or functional service.  Ignore the names of your house’s rooms and label them with one of the three categories instead.  Next, make the room multi task.  Take your dining room for example.  With a kitchen table and a counter top with bar stools, do you really need a third place to eat occasionally or seasonally?  “Oh but it’s pretty and elegant to have a formal dining room for holiday family dinners” you say.   Meanwhile your lack of home office is taking over your bedroom, living room, and kitchen counter.  Your papers are everywhere, you’ve lost your phone charger for the nth time and you can’t find your child’s permission slip for tomorrow’s field trip.

 It’s not the formality that makes the meal, it’s the food you share with the company you keep and the conversation you have.  

Turn your dining room into a work room.  Throw a good padded tablecloth over your table, slide some pretty file boxes into your china hutch, slip you laptop into a drawer.  Do whatever you need to do to make this unused space into working for you.  Better yet, don’t create a formal dining room from the start, think daily functional needs.  This room can be your office, homework station, craft corner, and library, then all tuck away at the holidays if you still “need” your fine china fix. 

mid century modern chairs, minimalist livinghome office, blue walls, shaker style cabinets, small spaces, white decor, home remodel

Some rooms do require a remodel such as adding a bathroom or moving the laundry upstairs. Those are a separate issue for another day.  Let’s keep adding functions to existing rooms.  Want a mud room? Add hooks, shelves, and a bench to a back hallway or in the garage.  Make your family room the noisy, teen, game, media, man cave, home theater, music room.  Your living room becomes the quiet, sewing, study, den.  For upstairs, can your children share a room? Why not, you and your spouse do. BAM! Now you have a vacant room to become a guest, gym, and rec room.  Don’t have a linen closet? Store towels in baskets hung on the wall and bedding in each bedroom’s closet.  No basement? Go vertical in the garage.  Use double beds instead of twins to increase room occupancy and tuck storage bins under all the them.  Get rid of all the books, DVDs, and CDs . Wait- what did I say?  These things take up tremendous space, most get used just a few times, waste resources and spend your money.  Use the library, develop a swap meet with friends/family, buy an e-reader, download songs, use Netflix or Roku, keep your old worn favorites, just don’t accumulate any more new ones. 

You have purged the clutter, reassigned rooms, and have started multi tasking some spaces.  Niches and alcoves are carved out and hooks have been hung.  Now let’s tackle the big dreams.   We don’t need man caves, master suites, teen dens, and in-law apartments if we figure out why we’re trying to escape.  

You didn’t start a family so you will all spend time in different rooms, doing your own activities.  Bring back the ideas of sharing and family togetherness.  

Alternate what’s playing on the tv, work together at the dining table, and bathe the kids while dad is shaving.  The point is to share space and enjoy your home.  

screened in porch, blue living room, sun room, house remodel

If and only if you have uncluttered your house, used every corner and are still bursting at the seams and tripping over one another should you consider construction.  Its expensive, time consuming and most of the time a little flexibility can be used instead.  However, there are always exceptions.  For example, if screening in your porch is a life long dream then do it, but let it also blossom to a summer sleeping porch, play room, hobby space and garden shed. The point is to multi task spaces. Let the rooms evolve to multiple functions.  Flexibility is simplicity.  Formal decorated, one function rooms are for glossy magazines, yours are to live in and love. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

Join in September: “Dust & debris, surviving construction”

 

Preparing your house to show

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As spring moves into summer another season starts to bloom, house selling season!  In some parts of the country this season seems to come at the end drop of the last icicle melting.  So here you are, getting your house ready for the realtor to take the photos for their website, plant that powerful “For Sale” sign in your front yard, then commence the feverish constant upkeep for showings with an hour’s notice.  For the sake of this article let’s assume you’ve already raided the internet for tips on “staging” your house.  Now, let’s move beyond that.  This is what to do in that “power hour” before buyers come for a showing.  Let’s get extreme…

As an interior designer, I can help provide additional tricks after you’ve exhausted the typical tips on curb appeal, white slip covers, and removing knickknacks.  For example, have you rearranged your closets? I thought not.  Take a look at your closet, if it were a store would you shop there? If no, then get cracking.  Start by arranging your shirts by sleeve length and then by color.  Separate your bottoms into pants and skirt groups, fold your sweaters like they do in boutiques (sleeves inside), arrange purses along the top shelf, hang belts and scarves, and for the biggest visual impact face everything in the same direction, including the coat hangers.  Move on to the linen closet and repeat.  Fold towels into thirds with the ends facing the back, grouping colors together.  Turn all toiletry labels facing front (called “facing” in retail), and place all remaining miscellaneous items in a basket on a high shelf.  The same facing idea pertains to the cereal boxes and eye level goods in your pantry.  Your goal is to portray to the potential buyer that storage is not only not a problem but a joy in this house, its house eye candy.

Another trick, (this one’s more for you to live in this now immaculate house) is how to reign in your mail, bills, cell phone cords and miscellaneous life stuff that floats around the kitchen counter.  If you have space above your fridge, place a large high sided basket atop. This will become your hide away spot to throw all that stuff when its 30 minutes to show time. Lift it down, fill it up, and then raise it up out of touring eyes.  Awesome, right?

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Let’s go to the bathroom now.  At the half hour call to show time, tidy the bathroom.  Check your toilet is clean, wipe your faucets of water drip marks, pull your blinds open, straighten your towels (into thirds if possible), place your toothbrush/toothpaste under the sink and wet wipe down the counter and sink.  Toothpaste smears will not sell your home.  Straighten your shower bottles, fluff up your shower curtain, and tuck your trash back by your toilet.  For bonus effort, make a clean tidy tear on your toilet roll.

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Move to the the living room, you want to portray life energy can be possible, but not currently occurring.  Imagine your house like a snapshot of the potential of living there, that’s what you’re selling.  Straighten your pillows, refold your blankets (tuck your ends in), tidy up your magazines, fluff your curtains out allowing the windows to show.  Remove all shoes from the front entry.  Somewhere in this room hide a vanilla air freshener, make absolutely sure its not visible.  You are creating an atmosphere, not giving away the magician’s secrets.

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For the kitchen, if you have a double sink, place the dish drying rack in there.  Better yet, take your dish scrubby brushes, rack and tuck them under your sink.  Your dishes do themselves, remember, create magic!  Place your basket o’stuff above your fridge, straighten your chairs and stools, wipe the faucet like you did in the bathroom, open any blinds, and take out the trash.

By this time in your preparation, you should be approaching an hour.  Spend the last 10 minutes scanning the major rooms and tweak minor adjustments (like focusing your photo frames to all face the same direction).  Your beds are already made (start adopting that morning habit and you won’t need to do it during your power hour.)   Now, take a fresh look at your home like the buyers will be doing. It looks pretty sharp!  Straightened, shiny, tidy, focused, and organized items all help convey the message that this home has been cared for, its a joy to live in, and its ready for them.

You CAN do it!  I believe in you.  Let your house shine, its been good to you.

 Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer, DDS

Medway, MA

Join in July: “Decorator, Designer, Architect. Which one is right for you.