BUILDING & REMODELING INSIGHTS
A DIVISION OF DESIGN BASICS, LLC
how far do you go?
Why Buy New At a Time Like This?
The 3 Faces of Design
Plan B: A Claire Remodels Her Home
How do you want your home to live? ORIGINAL HOME PLAN
MODIFIED HOME PLAN
• “The entry feels a little cramped.”
• Stretched entry 2’-4” wider.
• “I don’t want old-fashioned 8’-high ceilings.”
• Increased main floor ceiling heights to at least 9’ (required adding 2 more stairs to staircase.)
• I would like a more open floor plan.”
• Relocated fireplace, opening up entertaining area.
• “A kitchen planning desk just means clutter.”
• Added drop zone coming in from garage.
• “The shower in the master bath is too small.”
• Re-designed bath with walk-in shower (no door!)
• “Garage entry is into the laundry room.”
• Created rear foyer entry from garage.
• “There’s no coat closet.”
• Added coat closet in rear foyer.
• “Wider doors make moving furniture easier.”
• All passage doors at least 2’-8” wide.
ORIGINAL PLAN 1380-54X
MODIFIED PLAN 42050-54X
Call our Plan Modifications Department
call 800.947.7526 or visit us 24/7 – DesignBasics.com
CONTeNTS THIS ISSue FeATuReS
HOME PLAN MAKEOVER Battle of the Sexes:
FINALLY ABOUT ME The 3 Faces of Design
I WISH I HAD THOUGHT ABOUT... Introducing Her Home Thought of the Day
photo courtesy of Kohler.com
BETTER LIVING Building Green – How Far Do You Go?
INSPIRED DESIGN Plan B: A Claire Remodels Her Home
LIVABILITY AT A GLANCE Garages – the New Flex Room
AND IN THIS ISSUE...
Why Buy New at a Time Like This?
The Practical Side of Good Design
If women hold the keys to the “queen-dom” . . . how do we unlock their vision and turn it into a “buildable” design?
A DIvISION OF DeSIGN BASICS LLC
Janie Murnane ART DIReCTOR
Annette Guy R e N D e R I N G I L L u S T R AT O R S
Shawn Doherty Cris Zandt SeNIOR DeSIGNeR
Working at a design company for fourteen years, I’ve had lots of opportunity to see thousands of plans. I’ve envisioned that perfect plan that would meet my every need. I’ve made lists upon lists of “wants.” I have folders of photos that I pulled from magazines; features that were perfect for me and how we live. What I’ve come to realize is no matter how many plans I view, I’ve always found something I would change. Always! “Am I that picky”, I ask myself? “No”, I think but I simply know what I want – what I need – and how my husband and I live in our home. I also know where I may compromise and the only way I would achieve this dream, I thought, was to build new (See the Murnane Manor II on page 5.) One of my favorite phrases is “you know what you know, but that’s all you know”. And, this is true when it comes to design. I have a great understanding of how we live in a home, what our needs are and what features I want (my husband really doesn’t care). But, I know what I know and there may be more out there to compliment our lifestyle and personality. My point is this: it’s critical to work with an expert, a talented designer to set the path for great design that fits your individual style with today’s trends. Why? Because much more goes into designing a “buildable” home than amenities and needs and wants. (See page 20 & 21, The Practical Side of Good Design).
Nowhere do we reveal more about who we are than in our homes. What does your home…your neighborhood…even the products in your home say about you? That’s the focus of The Three F aces of Design (Begins on page 8.) These social aspects inspire design-savvy industry leaders to create remarkable innovation, and I know you’ll enjoy the insights and perspectives shared by Kohler, ThermaTru, InSinkErator and Wilsonart. Great design is not just about meeting expectations, it’s about defining livability, comfort and functionality for each individual without sacrificing style. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned some of what I want and don’t want from living in my previous homes. I want architectural details, niches, crown molding, high ceilings, rear foyer, drop zone, large island and storage; lots of storage. I don’t want to walk through a laundry room from the garage to my kitchen. I don’t want to do crafts and sewing from the kitchen table. I don’t want to have an office that is open to the family room or in the kitchen. I don’t want a high maintenance home and I especially don’t want a kitchen that doesn’t accommodate multiple cooks. My sons love to cook; and holidays bring us all together and turn the kitchen into a work in progress. So, where do you go once the decision to build is made and you need a home plan? You come to us. We listen. We act. We deliver.
Carl Cuozzo P L A N A L T e R AT I O N S D e S I G N e R
Tricia Baker CONTRIBuTING WRITeRS
DESIGN BASICS PUBLISHING CHIeF exeCuTIve OFFICeR
Myles Sherman C H I e F O P e R AT I N G O F F I C e R
Patrick Carmichael CHIeF FINANCIAL OFFICeR/PReSIDeNT
Janie Murnane A S S O C I AT e P u B L I S H e R
Paul Foresman D I R e C T O R O F W W W S T R AT e G I e S
ON THe COveR: COveR PHOTO BY:
Janie Murnane J. Michael McBride
PuBLISHeD BY: Design Basics LLC 11112 John Galt Blvd., Omaha, Ne 68137 www.DesignBasics.com | Info@DesignBasics.com phone: (800) 947-7526
Text and Design © 2011 by Design Basics LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher. ISSN: 1553-6424 PRINTeD IN THe u.S.A.
BATTLE of the sexes The challenge had been made. Two teams would be given the opportunity to design a 2200-2400 square foot 1-story home (envisioned on a basement foundation) for a baby boomer, empty nest couple. The lady of the house was assumed to have a “Claire” personality, and as a reference, both teams were given Design Basics’ Sinclair homeplan—a 3-bedroom layout with the master bedroom well-separated from the secondary bedrooms. The new home designs could not exceed 60 feet in width. And one more thing—the two teams were divided by genders.
Team A started with the exterior curb appeal. With a penchant for entertaining, their design incorporates a captivating front courtyard, complete with a water feature to greet guests. French doors provide direct outdoor access to and from the formal dining room. An arched theme distinguishes the entry foyer, with views of arched openings into the dining room and great room plus arches over the hutch space recess and foyer display niche. A perfect complement is the foyer’s arched, barrel vault ceiling. Also, notice this home’s discrete staircase placement. Team A wanted to eliminate the physical or visual interruption of space a staircase often causes to create a more inviting entry. An angled, see-thru fireplace helps unify the home’s open, entertaining core. In the kitchen, the deep island serves as the command center, offering storage behind the sink and dishwasher (accessed from either end.) People can gather around the island on the snack bar side without being in Claire’s “space” on the working side of that island. A second island doubles as a servery for the casual eating area as well as providing a second sink and dishwasher. As compared with a single, larger island, the dual island layout reduces kitchen traffic interruption. Known for their formal entertaining, Claires would appreciate the 36”, 6-burner cooktop along with built-in wall oven and microwave to handle the cooking duties. Flanking either side of the cooktop, this layout offers a “food prep” zone while keeping that area separate from the clean-up space. And there’s plenty of storage. In addition to the corner pantry there’s plentiful cabinetry, because Claires know storage can be beautiful. The master bedroom suite is a joy to behold. Abundant sunlight streams through windows on two sides, including a high transom window over the natural headboard location. The sitting area is serene, being bathed in natural light and offering direct access to the rear covered porch. In the master bath, the split vanities are staggered so that the couple need not stand “cheek-to-cheek.” Two smaller doors lead into the bath to minimize the interruption typically caused by a single larger door swinging in. Notice that each vanity has its own adjoining cabinet for storage of linens and personal items. Claires like to have their own space! Sunlight enters the bathroom via the picturesque window topping the 6-foot tub and a skylight over the bathing area. Don’t have time for a long, hot soak? There’s always the doorless walk-in shower. Just beyond, the suite’s walk-in closet is large enough to double as a dressing area. Arriving home and entering the home from the garage is a welcome transition—as opposed to the original Sinclair plan’s laundry/mudroom. This home’s rear foyer entry presents storage, a handy seat and a well-appointed laundry room separated with a pocket door. Envisioned as a home with secondary bedrooms for the grandkids in a finished lower level, this design offers a true flex room behind the kitchen. Whether a guest room, home office or personal space, buyers are sure to love the privacy this location offers. (If this was going to be my home, I would line both exterior walls with windows to create a sunroom!)
42156-54X the Murnane Manor
2307 total sq. ft. Like this plan but looking for something a little bit smaller? Check out the Murnane Manor II on the following page!
the Aston P la
2310 total sq. ft.
b m a te
Knowing “storage can be beautiful”, don’t be surprised to see furniture-grade cabinetry with glass front doors in Claire’s kitchen!
Our second team took a little less traditional approach to the home’s exterior design, borrowing Southwestern and Mediterranean cues. Then, in addition to it’s signature stone entrance, this home makes an enviable statement with its prominent entry foyer which, like team A, also uses arches to create drama. Team B’s open entertaining area is unified under a beamed cathedral ceiling. By placing this design’s symmetrical fireplace/built-ins at one end of the great room, guests are welcomed into the home by picturesque, uninterrupted entry views out the back. With its unique eating round, the kitchen island is also centered directly below the soaring ceiling. Storage is extended with a 12-foot long serving station along the casual eating area. Don’t be surprised to see furniture-grade cabinetry with glass front doors spanning that space! Envisioned as a special place for special memories, this design’s 22-foot wide covered porch echoes the cathedral ceiling concept, adding to the integration of indoor and outdoor entertaining. And there’s a wonderful outdoor kitchen planned to ensure everyone can be part of the fun! One of the biggest differences between the two designs is Team B’s decision to show this home with three bedrooms, even though the buyer profile was an emptynest couple. “Empty-nest means the kids are grown and on their own. But we were thinking about when they and their families come to visit,” remarked one of the members of Team B. Those secondary bedrooms are provided as much privacy as possible and could just as easily be his and her home offices—one reason for the twin bookcases lining the hallway between the bedrooms just outside the compartmented bathroom. Surprises await the fortunate owners of this home in the master suite. An art display recess is the focal point of the alcove just outside the door leading to the bedroom and that door is located so that when opened, it does not swing into the bedroom proper. Windows on two sides invite cooling breezes. A pocket door was
chosen for accessing the master bathroom, eliminating door-to-door conflict with the sizable linen closet. Visualize a doorless, walk-in shower with built-in seat for daily use and a sun-drenched garden tub for a relaxing bath. There’s a raised ceiling over the tub and directly opposite the tub—an inspired arching display area (what a neat place for a flat panel TV?) Another pampering amenity, enjoy the walk-in closet with window seat. Natural light is wonderful when you’re trying to discern navy blue from black! Upon finishing these two new designs, we put them up on our website side-by-side
and let you pick your favorite. When the votes were tallied, Team A’s design had captured 51% of the votes, Team B’s plan was favored by 42% of voters, and 7% couldn’t decide which they preferred. How about you? Oh, and the design team genders…it’s obvious, right? Team A had the estrogen advantage!
42158-54X the Murnane Manor II 2091 total sq. ft. optional finished basement adds 1594 sq. ft.
Derived from Team A’s Murnane Manor, this design is what Publisher Janie Murnane intended to build, prior to deciding instead to remodel her existing home (see page 16).
WHY buy new at a time like this?
Could a housing downturn actually be a very opportune time to purchase a new home? Absolutely! Today’s historically low interest rates are just one of the reasons, as they expand your purchasing power significantly. For example, a $200,000 30-year mortgage at a 6% interest rate (APR) results in a monthly principal + interest (P&I) payment of $1199. But with a one percent drop in the interest rate to 5% APR, the (P&I) is just $1,073.64, saving you over $125 per month. Or, at 5% APR you could opt for a larger home or $20,000 in upgrades, as the monthly P&I payments for a $220,000 mortgage at 5% APR are $1,181—still less than the $1199 payments for $200,000 @ 6% APR. And that’s just the mortgage savings. At the time this article is being written, land costs have eased as have prices for some building materials, and builders have really sharpened their pencils to offer very attractive new home prices. Stiffer building and energy codes combined with product advancements mean cheaper utility bills and lower homeowner insurance rates, further reducing your total monthly housing costs. With everything being new, you can avoid expensive repairs and product replacements and today’s low- and no-maintenance products lessen future costs associated with maintenance and upkeep. 6
today’s low- and no-maintenance products lessen future costs associated with
maintenance and upkeep.
The financial implications are often the first aspect looked at, but there are lots of other reasons to look at new construction rather than an existing home, including: QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION More stringent building codes are just one of the reasons today’s homes typically offer superior quality compared to older homes. Advances in engineering and building materials mean today’s homes are stronger and safer, better able to withstand natural disasters. Insulated entry doors and garage doors improve energy efficiency. Inexpensive measures can be taken during construction in high radon areas to reduce the threat that dangerous levels of radon gas could seep into your home. Attics are being built to “breathe” easier, creating a healthier and more energy-efficient home. Stairways are not as narrow or steep…the list of construction quality advancements goes on and on, ultimately making your new home more pleasurable to live in. DESIGN FLEXIBILITY Tired of putting up with things that just aren’t feasible to change with existing homes? Like, a garage with a tall enough door for your pickup, or a lower level that can be finished off with at least 8’-high ceilings? New construction offers you the opportunity to design around your needs and wants in the home, from wider doors and hallways for improved accessibility to more open, entertaining floorplans.
PRODUCT CHOICES, ADVANCEMENTS When building new, there is a gamut of products to select from in making your home uniquely yours, based on what’s important to you! Is a peaceful, serene environment high on your list? Then you’ll want to look at quiet garbage disposals, exhaust fans and appliances, among other options. What about technology? From wholehouse networking to having an audio/video closet (creating a “clean” media center) to locating electrical outlets exactly where you’ll want them, new construction is a hands-down winner. AVOID MAINTENANCE HASSLES AND COST “Having a composite deck such as Trex®, would be mentally freeing,” Linda, a co-worker, once told me. She went on to explain that with her cedar deck needing a complete cleaning and resealing every other year, the deck maintenance was a burden. New homes are typically lower maintenance due to the products used. Other low-maintenance exterior siding materials, tilt-in clad windows, laminate flooring, even scrubbable paint—all give you back a little more time. Then, there’s the reality of expensive repairs associated with older homes. From replacing worn-out appliances to roofs, carpeting and furnaces, existing homes are considerably more expensive to maintain than new homes.
ENERGY EFFICIENC Y AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY Homes built today are as much as 60% more energy efficient than homes built 20 years ago. Extra insulation, better windows, advanced heating and cooling equipment, new energy efficient appliances, lighting and water heating all contribute to lowering utility bills and creating a more comfortable home. Those energy efficient measures have a profound environmental impact as well. Compared with a typical 20 year-old home, your new home can help prevent the release of tons (yes, TONS!) of greenhouse gasses per year, while helping conserve our energy resources. Advances in building products such as engineered wood and recycled product choices such as glass tile kitchen back-splashes further help protect our environment. DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS Finally, one of the most important reasons for buying new is getting exactly what you want in your new home. A home that’s uniquely and comfortably you. Rather than trying to fit into someone else’s vision for what “home” is, you can enjoy a place that inspires you, in which everywhere you look, you like what you see!
the faces of design How form, function and social design elements influence our product purchase decisions.
Her Home Magazine spoke with some unlikely bedfellows: Kohler (plumbing products), ThermaTru (exterior doors,) InSinkErator (food waste disposers,) and Wilsonart (countertops,) to identify the appeals designed into some of their products for the home. Though the ingredients were different, their recipes were similar:
one part art; one part science; and one part your story.
what do you want to feel in your personal space? 8
form can make a product a joy to behold or leave you wondering
“What were they thinking when they designed this?”
Ahhh, the look and feel of a product is a quality all its own. Beautiful…sensual …solid…form can make a product a joy to behold or leave you wondering “What were they thinking when they designed this?” Form is actually pre-conscious. You notice something. Instinctively, you’re attracted to it. It elicits an emotional response—perhaps “Wow!” It captures your imagination while stirring something deep inside you. Diana Schrage is the Senior Interior Designer at Kohler’s wonderful Design Center on the company’s campus in Kohler, Wisconsin. More than 160,000 visitors come through their Design Center annually and— get this—Kohler Design Center staff provides their design service expertise free to their visitors! According to Diana, “Kohler customers have a high appreciation for art.” It’s evident in the obvious (sinks, tubs, faucets) to the more discrete, such as toilets designed without the obvious P-trap. But as important as form is by individual product, Diana and her team take great pride in coordinating everything to achieve the look you’re after. For those who can’t make it to the Design Center, Kohler has published helpful selections guides on their website and provides extensive training for staffs at plumbing showrooms who offer Kohler’s products. At the Design Center, online, or in your local plumbing showroom the goal is the same— helping people pull everything together, by room and by price point, so they can envision the finished home while managing their investment. Frank Lin is ThermaTru Doors’ Manager of Market Insights. Lin knows the importance of first impressions. Both the Home Improvement Research Institute as well as ThermaTru’s in-house studies identify that “attractive appearance” is the #1 factor when it comes to selecting a door. In both fiberglass and steel doors, ThermaTru prides itself on offering tremendous variety in door styles , finishes, decorative glass inserts and complimentary sidelites and transoms. Lin is particularly proud of ThermaTru’s Classic Craft series of doors. “Classic Craft is a high-performance fiberglass door incorporating our Acu-Grain technology which gives
these doors the appearance of high grade mahogany or oak doors. They are architecturally correct with styles ranging from Craftsman to European and the widest selection of glass styles. Typically made-to-order, the doors can be personalized to individual preferences. They also have a solid, hefty feel and in January, we introduced a smooth (no wood grain) version of this door line for homeowners who prefer a smooth finish, painted door.” While some people might think it a stretch to consider a food waste disposer “art”, they haven’t met Eric Schultz, Director of Brand and Channel Management for InSinkErator’s household disposers. In fact, the company created their entire line of Evolution disposers with what Schultz calls “a more stylized, performance look.” Schultz went on to explain, “Each model in the Evolution series has specific visual design cues. We put tremendous emphasis on the physical design of these disposers, because their design conveys signals such as strength; reliability; that it’s up to the task; quiet and a premium look.” Wilsonart® unleveled the playing field for laminate countertops with the introduction of their Wilsonart® HD® High Definition® surfaces. Wilsonart’s Manager Premium Laminate and Specialty Products, Michael Lallo, talked about the role form played in making this line of countertops a game-changer. “High Definition focuses on the in-demand looks most popular for today’s countertops: quartz, slate, travertine, granite and marble. Our new technology endows HD countertops with optical dimension and stunning clarity. You can frame your choices with a decorative edge profile, an extra touch that shows off your new countertop at its absolute best.” In addition, Wilsonart has developed a method of fusing their HD sinks to the HD countertops, allowing the sinks to be undermount— the first time this seamless look has been available in laminate countertops. Lallo also pointed out form, as an element of design, is more than visual. “Warm to the touch, with textures unavailable in other luxury materials, Wilsonart HD is a welcome alternative; there is simply no other surface like it.”
high design is more than visually appealing
High design is more than visually appealing. It also means that the product does what it’s supposed to do, that it does it well and reliably. It means the product is easy to use and maintain. Plus, it means great technology, whether that’s in terms of cutting edge performance or environmental stewardship. For Lin and ThermaTru, there seemed to be a sequence of purchase priorities. Lin said “Women more often initiate the entry door selection or replacement project. Early on, she’s more design oriented, looking for a door that matches her home and interior style, overall shape and finishes. Once the style has been identified, her attention turns toward the functional and performance issues and if a guy is part of the decision making process, this is typically where he gets involved.” According to Lin, the most important functional aspects of entry doors for consumers are long lasting, followed by the product materials and price. ThermaTru’s steel doors and fiberglass doors are insulated, offering better energy performance than solid wood doors and exceeding 2010 Energy Star performance standards for entry doors. Steel entry doors are less expensive than fiberglass but can dent. The company’s steel doors are backed by 5 to 10-year warranties, while the fiberglass doors offer a limited lifetime warranty. The doors are also tested for water infiltration and high winds, and the fiberglass doors offer the highest protection against forced break-in for enhanced personal security.
Performance and convenience are what buyers of food waste disposers value. Interestingly, InSinkErator identified quiet as a critical aspect of performance. So the company’s Evolution series disposers were designed to reduce noise by up to 60% compared to standard disposers. According to Schultz, homeowners surveyed by the company after having the Evolution series disposers installed have high praise for the sound reduction measures taken. InSinkErator’s research identified homeowners did not want to have to be overly concerned about what types of food were put into the disposers. They addressed this issue in numerous ways. First was the size of the motor. Essentially, bigger motors better handle larger volumes of food waste. Second, some of the disposers were designed to grind food in multiple stages, which meant they could basically liquefy more types of food as it passes through the disposer. Their top of the line Excel disposer can sense if the disposer is about to jam, drawing on extra power reserves to break through any food waste. Some disposers have an auto reversing system to reduce jams, others have a manual reversing system. A final aspect of functional design for InSinkErator is their in-home warranty. If one of their disposers fail during the warranty period, the company sends a service technician to the home at no cost to the consumer. Peace of mind is great functional design!
The theme of innovation continued from Wilsonart’s Lallo as he moved from addressing form to function. “Wilsonart HD countertops are a whole new kind of laminate. Our new technology provides four times more wear resistance than traditional laminate and five times more scuff resistance, for a countertop that keeps its good looks longer.” Easy-care is another aspect of practical design. According to Lallo, the company’s High Definition laminate is nonporous – so there’s no need for sealing as with many other materials. He told us “It’s as close to “maintenance-free” as a hard surface can get. It’s not quite self-cleaning, but our HD countertops are one of the easiest to care for surfaces you’ll ever own. For everyday cleaning, simply use a damp cloth or sponge and a mild soap or detergent.” Function was also a priority for the Wilsonart’s HD sinks, as evidenced by their thoughtfulness in locating the drain at the back of the sink rather than the center, freeing up more space in the cabinet underneath. Along the top and at the back, Wilsonart designers integrated a shelf (for soap and sponges) designed to ensure water flows downward into the sink. When asked what makes Kohler’s residential products “woman-centric”, Donna Schrage answered “Fantastic function without compromising aesthetics.” Notice that even for a recognized design leader like Kohler, function was mentioned first.
A high priority for Kohler has been water conservation. Important, yes, but so is a satisfying shower experience. Don’t you hate wimpy showers? Kohler’s solution has been in the design of low-flow aerators for their faucets and showerheads which truly do cut water use without sacrificing performance. Similarly, Kohler offers low water consumption toilets and has made a priority of getting the word out (including practical tips for everyone) on water conservation via their website. Schrage identified product quality, as an element of functional design, in a way that resonates deeply. She explains “We are a disposable society, but Kohler’s products have stood the test of time. The Kohler brand is almost an anti-statement against disposable consumerism.” Sometimes overlooked, the social side of design deals with how a product makes you feel and what it communicates about you to others. Is it important? Well, Toyota hired a firm to survey its buyers of their hybrid Prius
ury surfaces. And should you want to change the look of your kitchen in a few years, Lallo adds “due to the high initial cost of many other countertop materials, you would really wrestle with changing out those old countertops to enhance your new décor.” “Kohler products,” says Schrage, “are aspirational but attainable.” She referred to social design in terms of how it makes one feel, using one of the Designer Rooms at Kohler’s Design Center as an example - Del Mar designed by Bella Mancini Zakarian. “ I feel elegant and immersed in luxury in that room. The designer’s inspiration came from ‘growing up with an ocean view, loving the feel of wiggling her toes in the sand while wearing a ball gown!’ and the details in this space tell that story.” Says Schrage, “Our values and beliefs are also part of important buying decisions. We have a sense of empowerment when we support businesses in alignment with our values and beliefs. This is reinforced each time we interact with cast iron and know it is from 93% recycled materials – vitreous and glass are
be interested in going in the home.” As you can see, the design professionals at leading home product companies are intimately involved with all three elements of design. You may have not thought too much about it before. Again, form, especially visual appeal, is initially pre-conscious. You’re simply attracted to something the moment you see it. Function is largely left-brained (logic, reasoning.) But social design is highly contemplative—it’s one way we reveal who we are to the world. Ranking these three facets of design is also intertwined with your personality and core values. If you walk into a home and your first thoughts are boring…predictable…then you’ll value form and social design cues more. Similarly, when walking into a home with soaring ceilings and a dramatic wall of windows, if you find yourself asking “how would you clean those windows/how would you change those light bulbs?” then functional design elements will be more important to you. One is not “better” than the other—but ignoring any of the design elements is a sure recipe for regret!
how a product makes you feel & what it communicates about you to others
model. The top 3 reasons given for purchasing that 50 mpg car: 3] “gas mileage” 2] “good for the environment” 1] “what it says about me” So, what does the humble kitchen food waste disposer say about the homeowner? According to Schultz, plenty! “Buyers who opt for the Evolution series of disposers put more thought into the design of their kitchens. They value their appliances more, because the overall kitchen experience is more important to them. It’s a reflection on the buyer—someone who’s an accomplished cook/homemaker/entertainer and who places a premium value on her kitchen.” Lallo says, “HD countertops give any kitchen that “I have arrived” look without a huge investment,” further suggesting HD is a surprising value when compared to other lux-
recyclable. We expect, and obtain the aesthetic that delights us and on a subliminal level have a sense of peace about making a difference by the choices we have made.” She asks, “What do you want to feel in your personal space?” Finally, few products in a home say as much about you as the entry door. Because, at most every price point, there are a great many entry door choices to accentuate your (and your home’s) style. Lin suggests an individual’s choice in an entry door indicates whether or not they are in tune with their home’s style. “The entry system is often the first thing people see when they come to your home to visit. Selecting the right door style shows discernment and the right materials an appreciation for craftsmanship. Just ask REALTORS®. REALTORS® know the first impression and curb appeal set the expectation for what they’ll likely see inside and often dictates if a prospective buyer will even
page 8: alternate widespread lavatory faucet with lever handles and sheetflow spouts . photo courtesy of Kohler.com page 9 top:
Luxury showering is art.
p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f Ko h l e r. c o m ® page 9 bottom: Wilsonart High Definition countertop and undermount sink.
photo courtesy of Wilsonar t
opposite far Left: insinkerator’s excel disposer – stylish and quiet. photo courtesy of InSinkEra tor
opposite rigHt: raising expectations of what’s inside, thermatru’s Classic Craft entry door with coordinated sidelites and transom window. p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f T h e r m a Tr u above: the look of stone, durable, and easy-care. Wilsonart HD laminate countertops. p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f W i l s o n a r t
WISH HAD THOUGHT ABOUT... What would home buyers tell other prospective home purchasers? What do buyers wish they had known/considered (or that the builder had told them about) prior to making their purchase decision? Drawing from comments received as well as personal experiences, we’re excited about launching our new e -mail ser vice Her Home Thought of the Day. Borne of realworld experiences, Thought of the Day is a quick read in keeping with our mission: Helping buyers make wise, informed decisions regarding their homes and the products that go into those homes. (See Thought of the Day examples to the right.) We hope you’ll appreciate the insights shared, discover new solutions which would make your home more pleasurable to live in, and avoid future regrets! And of course, we would love to have you share the Thought of the Day with others interested in remodeling their home or building a new home.
Sign up at www.HerHome.com to receive Her Home Thought of the Day via e-mail . It’s FREE!
Helping buyers make wise, informed decisions regarding their homes and the products that go into those homes.
Carpet Pad Picking out new carpeting is fun, even if a bit overwhelming. But then after deciding on the right look and feel and price point, you’ll inevitably be asked, “and what about the carpet pad?” Padding varies by the material(s) it is made of, the density, the thickness, and of course the price. You can bet with the “deals” you see advertised where pad is included in the price, the store is including a cheap pad. Or, you may have a commission-based salesperson whose goal is to increase the transaction price telling you you need the thickest, most expensive padding. General rule—ask what the carpet manufacturer recommends in terms of pad for the carpeting you’ve selected. You’ll extend carpet life by putting the right pad underneath your new carpeting. Too thin of a carpet pad and your carpet may show wear and look old faster. But too thick of a pad can make it more difficult to stretch the carpet properly. And thick pads are usually not recommended for high traffic areas or stairs, nor are they recommended for certain types of carpeting such as berber. Finally, some pads have been treated to help dissipate or resist odors. That might be particularly important if you have pets in the house!
Celebrating Contrast Have a kitchen island? Want to add more interest in your new kitchen? Consider contrasting countertops for the island! • Change materials. We’ve seen kitchen islands incorporating a raised eating bar where the main island countertops were granite and the eating bar top was wood that accented the cabinetry. We’ve seen kitchens where solid surface tops were used throughout except for the island baking center where marble was used (great for rolling out dough!) • Change Colors. This can be tricky because there are several colors to consider, but when it works, it’s beautiful! First, you’ve got to recognize that wall color and flooring come into play along with the cabinetry color and the tops. Harmonizing the color palette and yet opting to make the eating bar a contrasting color with the other countertops shows your personal style.
bui ding G R E E N G R E E N w r i t t e n b y Pa u l F o r e s m a n
HOW FAR DO YOU GO? As a Nation, We Can Do Better According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average home creates more pollution than the average automobile. It’s no wonder there’s increasing interest in building environmentally responsible homes, particularly when it’s possible to build “green” without sacrificing aesthetics or livability! But with so many products being touted as “green” and so many different approaches used by builders to create Earth-friendly homes, it’s easy to become confused. Which approach is best? How far do you go? How much (extra) do you spend? Let’s take the last question first. Some decisions have no immediate economic impact, such as choosing between carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles (P.E.T.) and other identically-priced carpeting alternatives. But many times you will be faced with paying more initially, with long term benefits. Take 50-year roof shingles. They’re typically more expensive to purchase, but if you see yourself staying in the home for many years, you’ll avoid replacement costs and keep the worn-out, cheaper shingles out of a landfill.
Sometimes there is a direct, measurable payback of your incremental investment in green building. Energy efficiency is often rationalized this way. Spending $4,000 to improve your home’s energy efficiency translates to an additional $24 or so per month higher mortgage payment (30 year mortgage at 6% interest rate). But if that taxdeductible $24 higher mortgage payment is offset by perhaps $40 to $50 per month savings in lower energy bills, that’s a great
tions include water-conserving toilets and showerheads, more efficient PEX plumbing, and even selecting grasses, shrubs and flowers which require less water. Then there’s perhaps the most important element to building green—simply that it’s the right thing to do. Strip away for a moment the possible financial incentives. As the current stewards of planet Earth, every one of us can contribute to protecting our environment. When I was growing up, the emphasis was anti-littering and it became ingrained in our national psyche. Now the stakes are higher—and more visible. Building green actually says a lot about who you are! Some green solutions are higher priced than other alternatives. Sacrificing in one area of your home, say foregoing the luxury whirlpool bathtub in order to free up money for green building solutions, identifies your true priorities. The National Association of Home Builders recently introduced their National
By building your home highly energy efficient, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, sulfer dioxide and nitrogen oxides). Sometimes overlooked, homes designed with windows on two sides of rooms increase natural light levels and can reduce the need to turn lights on. Opening those windows ushers in breezes, lowering dependence on air conditioning. Large covered porches provide relaxation and considerable shading, too.
Resource-Efficient Product Choices Paying attention to product content is another important factor. Carpeting made from wool or, as identified previously, recycled plastic water/soda bottles is one example. Pre-finished engineered wood flooring is another environmentally friendly choice that yields more flooring per tree harvested and offers a consistently high-grade finish and wear resistance. Scrubbable, washable paint is another smart choice, as scuff marks and crayon artwork can be cleaned off rather than resorting to repainting.
Perhaps the most important element to building green— investment. Plus we all know utility costs will be higher in the future, meaning even greater savings by investing in energy efficiency now. There’s also a line item on the Uniform Appraisal Report on which appraisers can increase your home’s appraisal value based on energy efficiency measures utilized, but this is up to the discretion of the appraiser. Appraisers today are being very conservative and there is not yet a large enough number of energy efficient homes which have subsequently resold to validate whether energy efficient measures do in fact command higher resale values. Financial implications are just one of the aspects of the decision to build green. There’s also the desire to be environmentally responsible, to reduce our impact on the environment and leave our planet in better shape for our children. Many of us are already re-using shopping bags, washing and re-using water bottles, recycling household waste, etc. If you ask, educated builders are anxious to explain measures they utilize to minimize the environmental impact of the homes they build. For instance, engineered wood products from managed forests such as plywood, OSB, and I-joist floor systems are a renewable resource and reduce the need to harvest old-growth forests. Water reduction solu-
Green Building Program which appears to be a reasonable, holistic approach to building green (www.nahbgreen.org/ Resources/Homeowners/default.aspx.) They address:
Reduce Energy Consumption Likely, the largest environmental impact is achieved by choosing to build an energy-efficient home. Better insulation, windows and doors can help you create a “tighter” home, reducing air leakage in and out of your home. It’s expensive to keep the furnace running just to offset cold drafts so you can be comfortable! Similarly, energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling equipment, water heating and appliances can significantly cut energy use. But, where do you invest: windows, appliances, lighting, heating and cooling systems, or superior insulation? The answer is—it depends. Work with your builder to identify where the greatest gains can be realized, which depends on the builder’s standards, features and products included in the builder’s base price. Climate is another big variable that will help direct your decision, as is your lifestyle, household size and individual circumstances. Know that reducing energy consumption may be one of your best performing investments! In addition to conserving energy natural resources, you will also reduce air pollution.
Homes can be designed around standard building material sizes to maximize efficiency. Carpeting often comes in 15’wide rolls, so designing a family room to be 15’-6” wide means seaming two pieces of carpet together and often generates waste. Streamlined, engineered structural systems require fewer steel beams, structural headers, etc., reducing the number of those expensive items in your home.
Water Conservation According to appliance ® manufacturer Whirlpool , a water-saving dishwasher can reduce water consumption enough to provide all of a household’s drinking water and some clothes washers save
green build•ing oPPosite Page toP:
energy-efficient windows, properly installed, have a big impact on energy use and utility bills. oPPosite Page bottom : blown-in insulation achieves a better “fill” than batts, minimizing energy-robbing voids and gaps. right: a “home run” PeX plumbing system saves water and money..
is by definition responsible, low-impact building that minimizes negative impact on the environment, provides healthy living spaces, improves the well being of the people living there, and positively impacts our communities. The National Green Building Program has identified the major areas to consider (in addition, they provide guidelines for builders in terms of minimizing environmental impact to your homesite during construction and minimizing or recycling construction waste—items pretty much out of your control.) By code, today’s new homes are considerably “greener” than most resale houses. So, how much farther do you go in building a green home? I’ve spoken with dozens of prospective home buyers in the past few months: Nearly everyone expressed interest in learning about green options that didn’t cost more.
simply that it’s the right thing to do enough hot water to accommodate your bathing needs. Water-efficient toilets and showerheads will make a big difference and “home-run”type plumbing systems can deliver hot water faster, helping you avoid wasting gallons of water waiting for the shower water to “warm up”. Another important consideration is landscaping. Choosing native and drought-resistant grasses and plantings can minimize water used for lawn irrigation. And, lawn sprinkler systems can help ensure watering for irrigation happens uniformly, consistently, at the opportune time (not the heat of the day!) In addition, a sprinkler system helps avoid wasteful over-watering.
Indoor Air Quality With a consensus that indoor air quality is generally poorer than outside air, green construction often folds in the element of air quality. Asthma, ADD in children and various respiratory ailments have been linked to, or shown to be aggravated by, poor indoor air quality. Heating and cooling systems must be properly “sized” to operate efficiently in terms of eliminating stale air, odors and other pollutants from your home. Excessive humidity, which can be a result of building a very “tight”, energy efficient home, presents several health risks among other problems. To control moisture issues, kitchen and bath exhaust fans should be vented directly to the outside. The “new home smell” is also something to avoid. Flooring, paints and some products used in the home release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into the air which is what you smell. Especially people with respiratory ailments or chemical sensitivities should look for low-VOC paints and select pre-finished wood flooring as opposed to traditional wood flooring which is finished on site. And if you are building in a high radon area, a passive radon mitigation system is fairly low cost at the time your home is being built, when contrasted with $750 to $1,500 or more often spent mitigating radon after the home is built.
Most were interested in simple things they can do that would make a difference. For example, a kitchen recycling center that provides a space to sort and hold paper, glass, plastic and aluminum products, making her life easier while helping her do her part to make the world a better place. About half of the people I spoke with were ready and willing to spend extra money (or shift money around) for energy efficient improvements that lowered ongoing utility costs and showed a positive monthly cash flow. But when it came to higher-cost solutions that did not present a personal economic benefit, enthusiasm for green building waned. Sixty-five per cent of consumers polled say they would choose green products, even if they cost more. But according to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, only ten to twelve per cent of consumers actually go out of their way to purchase environmentally sound products. Therefore, spending extra money on green alternatives is a individual, personal decision, one which parallels the individual’s interest in environmental issues—whether those are deeply held, personal convictions; or it’s to communicate to others their involvement in protecting the environment!
A CLAIRE REMODELS HER HOME w r i t t e n b y Pa u l F o r e s m a n p h o t o s c o u r t e s y o f J. M i c h a e l M c B r i d e
Plan “A” was to sell her present home and build a new home. Janie even had the plans for the new house drawn up, see the Murnane Manor II on page 5 (Claire-type personalities are prepared.) Her existing home, already in pristine condition (another Claire trait) was priced to sell. She hired one of the top REALTORS® and started getting showings almost immediately. After several weeks, she dropped the price. After several months with no offers, it was time to shift to plan B (Claires always have a plan B!) as she believed the local housing market wasn’t going to improve anytime soon. “We had already decided that if our home didn’t sell, Plan B was to remodel,” Janie said. “We bought the home 15 years ago because it was one of the few empty-nester ranch-style homes available and we loved the neighborhood. About 5 years ago we did our first remodel, eliminating the small island and breakfast nook and extending the kitchen into that space. I more than doubled the size of the original island to its present size of almost 5-foot by 10-foot—perfect for entertaining and eating at the bar. Additionally, in the great room I had faux painted the inset area over the fireplace to look like limestone and painted the original red Chicago brick fireplace surround more subtle colors to tone it down.” Janie, President of Design Basics and publisher of Her Home, exemplifies the Claire personality type. She said, “When Design Basics researched and developed the four female home owner profiles to help consumers and their contractors better zero in on aspects important to each persona, I knew I was a Claire even before the quiz confirmed it.” True to Claire form, Janie had researched the remodel and products exhaustively and knew exactly what she wanted in order to achieve the look and functionality she was after.
“We love to entertain,” Janie said, “and I love to cook.“ Cooking is so important to Janie that she taught both of her sons, now adults, the joys of cooking. Not surprisingly, the just-completed remodel focused mostly on the entertaining spaces starting with the kitchen. “Your home should reflect who you are and how you live. No matter what the budget, everyone can live in style and beauty as long as it’s a reflection of who you are.” Janie began, “A lot of today’s home owners like the wide-open floorplans integrating the kitchen, dining and great room
into one large entertaining area. But I prefer a little more intimacy for those rooms (Claires generally like more defined rooms) as we entertain downstairs in a wonderful, open family room. That’s why we left a wall that provides a buffer between the kitchen and great room.” That wall already presented a see-through fireplace warming both areas. Originally, the fireplace, as viewed from the kitchen/hearth area, was simply surrounded by drywall with a niche inset above for display. “Since the fireplace was a focal point of the kitchen, we added tumbled
marble to tie it in with the rest of the kitchen,” Janie explained. The original painted white kitchen cabinets were in near-new condition. Janie recalled, “I wasn’t surprised that people looking to buy our house made negative comments regarding the white cabinets. I didn’t care for them either, but I couldn’t see spending the money to change them out just to help sell our home.” In fact the practical side of her Claire personality came out in Janie’s decision to simply repaint the cabinets, topped off with a glazed finish—achieving the look she
We love our neighborhood, neighbors and the landscaping. We found ourselves asking
‘why are we moving? Let’s just change what we don’t like.’ And that’s just what we did.” www.HerHome.com
AFTER wanted and saving over $20,000. (Claires know their price range and are realistic, exhibiting less of a “low-price” focus because they know quality often costs more.) Also characteristic of Claire, Janie’s attention to detail extended to the cabinet hardware. A wood valance above the kitchen window mirrored the grapevine trim added to the island and was reinforced in drawer pulls. The countertops were one of Janie’s biggest concerns. With her first remodel, she had chosen a large piece of granite for her island countertop— Crema Bordeaux (yes, a Claire would know the name of her granite!) Finding a compatible slab of granite for the remaining countertops would be a real challenge. But about the same time she put her home on the market to sell, she also found that near-perfect matching granite and put a hold on it at the stone showroom. “That way I was covered,” said Janie. Whether remodeling or building new, the countertop decision had been made.” The kitchen sink decision was borne of experience. Janie had previously had both solid-surface and stainless steel sinks. Her sink choice this time? Porcelain over cast iron. According to Janie, “I liked the seamless integration of the solid surface sink with solid surface tops but with my heavy use, the sink was stained and a hot pan had 18
marred the solid surface material. So we had the new sink mounted under the countertops. I still have the convenience of wiping crumbs off the counters directly into the sink and also eliminated the unsightly rim of a stainless steel sink which also shows water spots and was difficult to keep clean.” True to Claire, the curved sink’s shape and differing basins reflect an appreciation for style. A new single-handle, satin-nickel finish faucet and a reverse osmosis purified drinking water faucet minimize penetrations through the granite as well as clutter on the counters. Claires pride themselves on superb coordination and Janie’s new kitchen had to look like it had all been done at the same time. Janie replaced the original backsplashes with the same tumbled marble used in the island remodel years earlier. “The tumbled marble subway tile creates an older, established look and feel of French Country,” said Janie, adding “We even carried the glass tile accents from the island remodel to the new backsplash design so everything ties together.” Having already lived in the home more than 15 years, Janie knew it was time to replace the appliances. The new look— stainless steel—was an easy decision. But there were some challenges. Janie really wanted a 36-inch gas cooktop, but the
BEFORE original cabinets limited her choices to 30-inch models. After a long search, Janie found a five-burner Kitchenaid® 30-inch cooktop which she loves. An even tougher challenge was Janie’s desire for an oven/microwave combination on the new wall complimenting her drop-in convection oven below the cooktop on the existing cabinets. This time the solution called for out-of-the-box thinking. As originally built, the home offered a modest walk-in pantry. While shelves lined the inside, the floor space devoted to being able to walk-in limited it’s usable storage capacity. The decision was made to eliminate the walk-in pantry and install double pull-out pantries next to the oven/micro combination built-ins. “It may have been at the request of the original owners of the home, but the microwave had been installed very low—3-inches below the upper cabinets and directly over the stove,” said Janie. Moving the microwave permitted adding a beautiful decorative backsplash over the cooktop. The new range hood was designed around an exhaust liner with light and three speed fan. A local cabinet manufacturer did a great job matching the original cabinetry design for the hood. “Now,” Janie said, “the cooking zones and layout are exactly what I wanted. But it wasn’t easy. For example, the electrician had to bring 220
BEFORE BUILDER: www.randabuildersomaha.com phone: 402-813-4725 owner: Chad Allington PAINTER: Clanton Painting, Inc. phone: 402-289-4018 owner: Scott Clanton
AFTER volt power to the new oven and a dedicated 110 volt line to the microwave, made more challenging because we have a finished basement. Running the new power through the kitchen floor system without damaging the basement ceiling was amazing!” (Claires have high expectations of themselves and equally high expectations of others.) Of all the words that describe a Claire home, “afterthought” is not one of them. Though there is a mixture of metals (stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze) as well as different stone materials, the remodeled kitchen makes quite a statement. Nothing was overlooked—right down to the lighting. A ceiling medallion was added for the main pendant light fixture over the island for architectural interest. The medallion theme continues over the cooktop where six tiles form to create a F leur de lis (French Country) design in the look of travertine—real travertine is porous—something that just wouldn’t work over a cooktop. (Claire minimizes risk and remorse by doing more pre-purchase research.) A bronze rope liner helps define the decorative medallion. Turning her attention to the great room, the remodel centered on the fireplace. In her research online, Janie discovered “rub and buff”, a product she used to tone down
AFTER the bright brass fireplace door trim. The original brick was torn out, replaced with travertine—even right under the fireplace doors. No detail is too small with Claire! The cabinet shop created tall, fluted fireplace surrounds which help make the fireplace truly distinctive. Janie’s limestone faux-painted inset display niche was repainted to match the rest of the wall. The niche is decorated with the season. “Our remodel finished up less than a week before our first Christmas party in our home,” Janie said. (Always in control, Claire sees her role as needing to be on top of every phase of construction and builders—don’t miss the schedule with Claire! In fact, Janie typed up a three page list of everything that was to be done in each area of her home and Emailed that to her contractor prior to the remodel beginning. At the end, the contractor actually thanked Janie because that list helped keep him and his sub-contractors onschedule.) Janie continued, “One of my favorite aspects was creating the Christmastime display above the fireplace in the great room.” Janie’s eyes moistened a bit as she recalled “The entire redesign of the great room fireplace spun around two antique wall sconces my Mom had given me. They are authentic French mid-19 th century
CABINETS: www.Foxcustomcabinets.com phone: 402-333-5515 family owned
converted electrical sconces, and the room and the setting they were placed into had to be “grand” enough to showcase them properly, creating the desired ambiance.” (If she has antiques and collectibles, Claire likely knows much about the period they are from.) No longer needed, the dividing wall’s former deep TV recess is now part of the pull-out kitchen pantries. In its place is a shallow recess for the flat panel TV, raised to a more comfortable viewing height. According to Janie, “The great room is wonderful for smaller gatherings, but when we have lots of people over, we usually entertain downstairs. So the great room is kind of my place to unwind. New carpet, paint, furniture and window coverings complete the remodel and I just love it!” Janie summarized their experience, “We would have loved to build a new home. But 80% of what we had designed for the new home (see the Murnane Manor II on page 5) we already had in our existing home. We love our neighborhood, neighbors and the landscaping. We found ourselves asking ‘why are we moving? Let’s just change what we don’t like.’ And that’s just what we did.”
PRACTICAL side of GOOD DESIGN Beethoven had his piano. Picasso his brushes. Similarly, today’s homebuyers tend to initially judge builders on their “artistic” architecture—with blueprints their sheet music and their 3-D canvas of wood, glass and stone. But beyond the visual and social appeals, it is often the thoughtful, practical side of good design which helps buyers choose one home over others on the market. Careful study is sometimes required to discover these practical design aspects—precisely because they just make sense and would only be noticed by their absence.
left : Rear foyer entry from garage with excellent storage and organization. Right : A pet shower is also great for gardening!
Let’s start with what happens when someone arrives home. Is there a coat closet or hooks nearby? Hopefully you’re not thinking those little 18”-wide entry closets that are expensive to trim out and offer little practical storage. Or, what about grocery traffic in from the garage? Is the kitchen nearby, or would you have to haul groceries half way across the home? Similarly, while most designs offer integrated or adjacent kitchen/breakfast areas, if your home has a formal dining room, how close is it to the kitchen? When it comes to kitchens, you probably think of the ‘working triangle’—the relationship between where the oven, refrigerator and sink are located. That’s important. But so is storage! In response to our fast-paced lifestyle, we’re consuming more and more processed foods. (60% of working women, at
is a dead giveaway to looking at the practical side of design. (see below illustration) Comparing the two kitchen layouts shown in this illustration, the one with the corner sink and views outside in two directions seems a little more ‘inspired’—until you realize that you can not open the dishwasher door and stand at the sink! Looks great on paper, but doesn’t work in the real world. With our increasingly green-conscious society, kitchen recycling centers are getting lots of attention. Wouldn’t life be easier if space was provided to sort and hold paper, glass and aluminum products? We all want to do our part to make the world a better place. Island sinks sometimes suffer from the same thoughtlessness. While it may solve the issue of where to place the sink, today’s trend towards uniform-height islands (no raised snack bar) means the flooring around
expenses finds a home here. Importantly, with kitchens doubling as entertaining space, these planning centers need to be able to be closed off when guests arrive to keep clutter out of view. According to closet organization system professionals, well-designed closet storage systems can accommodate twice as many items as the standard closet rod and shelf approach. “Bigger closets” and “more storage” are often cited by buyers as prime criteria for buying a new home. Make the most of their space without defaulting to simply making the home bigger. The same holds true for laundry areas and garages. Organization and storage solutions may not be as glamorous as stone countertops, but will absolutely be something you value. Hard surface flooring at all exterior doors lessens the need to deep clean carpeting.
Typical dishwasher placement is right next to the sink, but with a corner sink, inserting a tall vertical cabinet next to the dishwasher (for cookie sheets, etc.) provides room to stand in front of the sink and have the dishwasher door open.
4:00 pm, don’t know what they’re serving for dinner that evening!) Hence, the tremendous popularity of bigger pantries. You gotta have ‘em! In the example floorplan, roll-out drawers in the wall pantry add a higher level of functionality and ease of organization. Continuing in the kitchen, sink placement
that island sink is going to get wet—there’s no backsplash! Near the kitchen (but not part of it) household planning/communication centers are one of today’s hottest amenities. Large enough for a computer, activities from downloading recipes to managing household
Not having to walk through one room to get to another is more convenient and can mean fewer interruptions. We don’t believe it’s a stretch to consider practical design an art form—because truly great art that we call “home” is lacking if it doesn’t enhance livability. www.HerHome.com
Flex room Evolving from mere auto storage units, todayâ€™s garages are often serving multiple roles. The most common is storage. But increasingly, garages are being used for a variety of other purposes, dictated by the activity(s) envisioned. Here are issues and solutions for expanding the usability of your garage, based on what weâ€™ve been hearing from you.
STORAGE AND ORGANIZATION Did garages get larger because of the increased popularity of minivans, SUVs and pickups, or due to our unwillingness to part with our stuff? Both are probably true, thankfully, because regardless of the size of vehicle you drive, you probably don’t have too much storage in your home! Especially if you live in a neighborhood where covenants forbid outbuildings such as a shed on your property, garage storage is a non-negotiable. From lawn mowers and garden tools to skis, golf clubs and bikes, to auto supplies and even the kids’ waterguns, where are you going to put all the stuff so that you can easily find what you’re looking for and not have to worry about running into (or over!) said items when you pull in or out of your garage? Several companies make garage storage and organization products, from simple DoIt-Yourself shelves and tool hangers to professionally designed and installed elaborate, attractive storage systems. For 2-car garages, the rule of thumb is a 24’ x 24’ garage which is typically large enough for such storage products, a second refrigerator or even a freezer on the back wall and along one side wall. A 22’-dimension may work if you have smaller vehicles. Another storage opportunity may be going up rather than out. Overhead storage in a garage, whether it’s open storage over the
garage door tracks and opener or attic storage space accessed via pull down stairs, can be a smart use of available space. If your garage presents the overhead storage option, garage door manufacturer LiftMaster offers a neat garage door opener that mounts on the side wall of the garage rather than above the garage door. This creates a lot more overhead storage opportunities! If cleaning out the garage isn’t high on your list of favorite things to do, mobile storage products are a blessing. Storage units on wheels can be easily moved to clean out under them. Similarly, storage/organization products which are adjustable for easy reconfiguration are sure to be appreciated as your needs (or vehicles) change. Finally, don’t limit your evaluation of storage and organization solutions merely based on your needs today. Consider changes in lifestage and household composition. For example, if you were to start that home-based business in a year or two, will you need space for inventory? Or, if you get married/as kids get older/if Mom were to move in with you, how would your garage storage needs change? Planning now can eliminate regret later! ACTIVITIES Beyond just added storage space, garages can be ideal environments for a host of other activities. Among the most common activity areas are space for a workshop and hobby areas such as a planting/gardening center.
But nowadays, garages are also becoming an extended entertaining option. The guys (especially the ones with the big cigars) coming over for cards? The garage can be the smoking lounge/gaming area if tobacco is not welcome in your home. Maybe it isn’t cards—maybe it’s a billiards/ping-pong/air hockey table that will entertain friends and family. Just know that by building code the garage floor has to slope slightly for water to run out, so you’ll need to raise one end of the gaming table to make it level. And of course, we’ve let (or sent) the kids and their friends out to play in the garage for decades… The fastest growing garage entertaining activity revolves around watching TV or movies. Having a bunch of friends over for the “big game” but not into the game yourself? You’re not alone—and you won’t be alone when some guests are watching the game in the garage and others are enjoying your hospitality indoors. And those video projectors—they’re getting smaller and more compact while the picture sizes are growing. Have you seen the new crop of inflatable projection screens? Yes, you can even buy ‘em through Target’s website. Though they were undoubtedly designed to be used in the back yard, if it’s raining…or too cold…or such a bright day outside that you can’t see the projection, the garage is a great alternative! Kind of reminds you of “drive-in movies”!
left: tV’s, soda machine, games...this garage is truly multi-purpose. below: liftMaster’s side mount model 3800 garage door opener expands overhead storage options. photo courtesy of LiftMaster
included in the base price. You’ll want to increase the overall lighting if you have other uses in mind for your garage. Specifically, task lighting over work areas is a “must”. HOT AND COLD WATER. From gardening to washing out paint brushes to bathing the dog, talk with your builder or plumber about hot and cold water into your garage. It can be as simple as Moen’s exterior hot and cold water silcock run into the garage to having a more traditional faucet and laundry tub/sink. FLOOR DRAIN. It rains. Our vehicles track in snow that melts. Garages get wet. Having a drain installed in the garage floor helps keep everything else inside your garage from getting wet/damaged by water.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR MAKING YOUR GARAGE A “FLEX SPACE” ELECTRICAL. Building codes only require one electrical outlet in your garage. Obviously, that’s not going to be enough. If you have planned how you want your garage to “flex”, you can have sufficient electrical outlets installed exactly where you want them. CABLE TV. Wireless cable TV signals are in the not-too-distant future. But for now, it only costs a few dollars more to have a cable TV jack run into your garage. Do it. LIGHTING. A couple naked light bulbs. If you don’t ask for more, that might be all that’s
SEALING THE GARAGE FLOOR. Whether it’s to keep spills from staining the floor or just to enhance the appearance of your garage, there are several sealants or coatings that can easily be applied to the garage floor. HEAT. You would be surprised at the number of homes in colder climates with heated garages. You’ve paid for the space, why not get the most use from it year ‘round? Talk with your builder about both forced-air heaters (similar to your furnace) and in-floor radiant heat, which warms the garage through the concrete garage floor, avoiding the “add-on” look of most supplemental heaters. Finally, we return to the garage door opener. Noise and vibration are a given with most chain-drive garage door openers. For a little
more money, you could step up to a screwdrive model which is quieter. But the smart money is on belt-drive openers, which are typically the quietest and smoothest openers on the market, causing less interruption for whatever you’re working on in the garage (not to mention reducing irritating noise throughout your home.) Still, there’s that garage door opener. Function, yes—even a necessity. But it’s a bit of an eyesore and sure gets in the way of overhead storage. Must have been designed by guys. Manufacturing types—all practical, little (if any) thought given to aesthetics. So, in the middle of your flex room you have an industrial machine hanging from the celing. Or, perhaps you checked out LiftMaster’s side mount model 3800 garage door opener with no overhead unit! I don’t know if it won any industrial design awards, but in creating a great garage/flex room, it should win a design award. This sleek unit mounts on the wall beside the garage door, so ceiling space is freed up for maximum storage. It even has an optional standby power system that will continue working, even when the power goes out! How far you go in terms of turning your garage into a multi-purpose area is up to you. But when one of the ladies we talked with suggested a Murphy (wall) bed in the garage for her husband…
Kuebler | #31007-54X
679 main sq. ft. | 781 second sq. ft. | 1460 total sq. ft.
Eveland | #42141-54X
1406 main sq. ft. | 537 second sq. ft. | 1943 total sq. ft.
unfinished storage adds 155 sq. ft.
View more of our homeplans at www.HerHome.com
THERE’S A NEW WAY TO LOOK AT HOME PLANS