The Inside of Your Home: Time for New Thinking

April 28th, 2009 by Mary Schmelzer

This article also appeared in the April 15, 2009 Home and Garden insert of the Northfield News.

This great room is divided by curved ceiling treatments

This great room is divided by curved ceiling treatments

It isn’t news that the housing market is drastically different. Houses aren’t selling overnight and the flexibility of moving just isn’t there. This means it is time we think differently about our homes and how we wisely make them our own.

Sarah Susanka’s building approach, “The Not So Big House” is celebrating ten years of success. The theory resonates with many home owners: it values quality over quantity and creating a home for yourself, not a generic sales market. Most people who come to Vivus Architecture + Design subscribe to these principles and want design solutions that provide personalized spaces that are right-sized with features that make living easier and more beautiful.

Breaking down the above principles into strategies, these are some of the local interior trends we are seeing:

People are doing all the planning up front, and then allowing the projects to take place in a logical and manageable sequence. Often this allows the homeowners to occupy the house during construction and doesn’t require the same upfront financing. Planning also prevents undoing good work that was previously accomplished or the budget-busting “while-we’re-at-its.”

Useful spaces that save time and money are always assets. Organized closets optimally placed save frustration and repurchasing of items that can’t be found. A good kitchen layout makes cooking, cleanup and entertaining easier and more enjoyable for everyone. By designing efficient living spaces, we are often able to reduce the square footage previously anticipated for an addition. This planning is rewarded by construction savings.

Quality cabinetry, flooring and counters save money in the long run

Quality cabinetry, flooring and counters save money in the long run

We are now seeing fewer projects that are short-term solutions: homeowners are installing high-quality cabinetry, flooring and finishes. This may mean an owner will take on a smaller project, but the enduring appeal and life span of the materials make the decision a good one. Navigating through the available selections takes effort and planning, but it pays in the long run when a remodeling lasts for decades.

Family spaces
Families are just as busy as ever, and demand much from their homes. More homes locally are planning for mudrooms. Mudrooms answer many needs: storage, organization, information/scheduling, pet spaces, and sometimes laundry.

Kitchens are designed with built-in places for homework, home offices, entertaining and specialty cooking. Homeowners are upgrading appliances, cabinetry, lighting and flooring to create hard-working and good-looking multi-use spaces. Open connections between rooms can offer new opportunities for entertaining and family connectedness if they are adequately designed to do so.

A "command center" has its own nook formed by the stairwell

We are seeing less square footage added as more owners opt to create rooms for the whole family: reading, watching TV, playing games and using the computer. Built-in nooks and work counters perform many functions without requiring much floor space. One well-planned hard-working room can replace several others. Instead of a dedicated home office, we often allocate space in or near a common room.

More and more green elements are being incorporated. Energy savings, carbon reduction, kindness to the earth and health are driving factors. We address these desires by designing a tight envelope (good windows, doors, insulation), selecting efficient heating/cooling, and recommending eco-friendly products. Efficiency and durability are strategies that also help “green” a home. Renewable energy systems are an option, too.

Don’t be afraid to make your home your own. The homes we remember are those with interesting nooks and crannies, fun features or rooms beautifully appointed. It takes a careful hand to decipher what is universally charming and what is over-the-top. We often recommend the unusual strokes be items that can be removed: paint, furniture, accessories. Well-done focal points, quality built-ins and beautiful woodwork are features that appeal to everyone.

Bold tile makes a colorful statement in a concentrated area

Bold tile makes a colorful statement in a concentrated area

Color can enhance woodwork and furniture, set a mood, and optimize natural light. Today’s spaces have touches of bright colors mixed with neutrals. Rooms are planned to have color opportunities: backsplashes, stained glass, and walls that sport a focused hue. Local colors include darker, saturated earth tones (mustard yellows, clay reds, brown-based greens) and deeper neutrals.

As you think about making your current home work better for you, employ the trends listed above to make wise choices about your updates. Planning ahead and good design will reward you with usable and enjoyable spaces that will serve you for many years. Let us know how we can help.

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