Spa­tial Ef­fects

En­sure your home and the rooms in­side are ap­pro­pri­ately sized by plan­ning ahead.

Timber Home Living - - Contents -

En­sure your home and the rooms in­side are ap­pro­pri­ately sized by plan­ning ahead.

Square footage is a pre­cious com­mod­ity when build­ing a new home. You want to make sure you have plenty of space for ev­ery­thing, but you also have a bud­get to main­tain. You can save your­self some headaches by first de­ter­min­ing how you plan to use your home, then de­cid­ing the nec­es­sary di­men­sions to be al­lot­ted to each space based on in­tended func­tions.

“Square footage is ex­pen­sive,” states Karen Wray, de­sign co­or­di­na­tor at Moun­tain Log Homes of Colorado, “so de­sign [your home] for how you live and how you en­ter­tain.”

To start, ask your­self ques­tions about ba­sic func­tions. “Are you a for­mal en­ter­tainer or an in­for­mal en­ter­tainer?” Wray asks. The an­swer may de­ter­mine whether you have a ded­i­cated din­ing space or just a large kitchen is­land around which ev­ery­one can gather, she ex­plains.

TV-watch­ing habits and sleep­ing ar­range­ments also may af­fect your de­sign. “I’ve seen peo­ple use lofts as TVwatch­ing ar­eas,” she ob­serves. “But you have to make sure, if it’s open to be­low, that you don’t have the TVs [from the loft and com­mon area] on at the same time be­cause the noise car­ries.”

The same is true of us­ing the space for an over­flow sleep­ing ar­range­ment, she adds. Not only may you be able to hear the gig­gles from chil­dren play­ing above; those perched up there also can hear the ef­fects of a sur­round-sound tele­vi­sion.

“A lot of times, I’ll put a desk with a cozy chair and lamps to make a quiet space,” she notes, with built-in shelv­ing for books, bill stor­age and the like for some­one to get away from the other ac­tiv­ity in the home. “Lofts work re­ally well for that pur­pose. It can be pretty when seen from be­low if you have nice cab­i­netry, but it doesn’t re­quire quiet or you to be quiet.”

Th­ese tran­si­tion ar­eas can prove tricky at times, but your fur­ni­ture can ac­tu­ally be used to help sep­a­rate func­tional spa­ces by cre­at­ing a vis­ual di­vide. Of­ten­times, it’s some form of sofa/sofa ta­ble ar­range­ment to cordon off the great room from ad­ja­cent spa­ces; kitchen is­lands also can help in that re­spect. Just make sure you have at least a rough idea of how th­ese items will fall in your plan be­fore the con­struc­tion phase be­gins so you can in­stall floor out­lets as nec­es­sary to min­i­mize the need for ex­ten­sion cords.


More of­ten than not, you’ll be plac­ing cur­rent fur­nish­ings within your new place rather than buy­ing new. The ben­e­fit is that you know the di­men­sions of th­ese pieces be­fore­hand so you can work with your ar­chi­tect to en­sure space for par­tic­u­lar show­case pieces, such as fam­ily heir­looms.

“If you’ve got some heir­loom pieces you know for sure you want to in­clude, in the blue­print stage, cal­cu­late the win­dow height to ac­com­mo­date pieces like that,” Wray sug­gests. “If there are a cou­ple pieces you know you can’t live with­out, work with your ar­chi­tect [on di­men­sions] and make sure the archi-

tect knows that when mak­ing win­dow place­ments.”

Be flex­i­ble with place­ment, too; not ev­ery piece of fur­ni­ture needs to serve the ex­act same func­tion as it does in your cur­rent res­i­dence. For ex­am­ple, Wray notes, a din­ing-room piece from your cur­rent house may func­tion bet­ter as a buf­fet-style sofa ta­ble in your new house, or a beloved over­sized chair may find a new home in front of a bed­room win­dow. An open mind will help pieces fit within the con­text of the home.


Star­ing down at a ¼-inch scale draw­ing may not be help­ful if you have noth­ing against which to com­pare it. “If you don’t do this for a liv­ing, and you’re look­ing at a 4-by-5-inch space [on a floor plan], it’s hard to vi­su­al­ize how that space lives when you’re not stand­ing in it,” Wray states. If you’re weigh­ing di­men­sions for key spa­ces, ask your builder to take you to homes he or she has con­structed, she sug­gests, to help you see how large or small that much space feels.

You also can put pen­cil to pa­per by in­cor­po­rat­ing ¼-inch draw­ings of your own into the plan to un­der­stand traf­fic flow and liv­abil­ity. Wray will of­ten shade out the log­i­cal path­ways — which should be 36 to 42 inches wide for com­fort­able ma­neu­ver­abil­ity — be­tween ar­eas such as the kitchen and great room so she can see the nat­u­ral flow of the spa­ces. Area rugs come in handy to com­part­men­tal­ize func­tional spa­ces while al­low­ing the floor­ing to show through in th­ese ma­jor walk­ways.

Light­ing is crit­i­cal as well. If you plan to in­cor­po­rate high ceil­ings, Wray rec­om­mends a mix of dec­o­ra­tive, up and down light­ing. Steer clear of more del­i­cate fix­tures, she cau­tions, which can be dwarfed by the mag­ni­tude of any big tim­bers used.

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