Saturday, February 25, 2012

Breaking for Balance

Thanks for all the support and nice comments, always, but especially on the recent series about the family, DIY approach to planning and building our home.  It was fun to go back over pictures and re-live the process as I wrote.

However, not being speedy at placing pictures and honing such long entries, it look me hours for each post.  I found that I wasn't fully present in my home during that time... The night I wrote the answer to Question 1,  Prince Inventive went off to an event at church for an hour.  It was after he'd already gone to bed when I realized I hadn't noticed his return home, and had to check with his younger sibling to be sure he'd made it back.  Yikes.

That was no good, and, additionally, I'm a bit worn from all the illnesses we've been through.  I've decided I could use a break, and will be staying away from the blog through the next week.  

I have a few goals for myself.  One is that I hope my kids don't see me on the computer for that week.  When they're around, I want to give them my attention, and let them see me tending to the family and our household, and pursuing personal interests.  Here are my specific hopes for my blog break:

  • Read 1 book

  • Complete 1 sewing project

    • Complete our income tax return

      • Start Prince CuddleBunny on a new drawing and writing book

        • Try a new program (game) for math drills I've been promising the kids 

        • Join my early-risers for breakfast each morning                                                                                                                                

        • Be in bed by 10 PM each night                                                                                                                          

        • Breathe, have some quiet time, and hopefully, not only talk to God, but listen.                                                  

        Thanks!  I'll report back here by March 5th, hopefully with something good to share about the accomplishment of those goals. 

        Friday, February 24, 2012

        I've Been Featured!

        I am honored to have had our family homebuilding project featured at One Project Closer along with other bloggers who contributed interesting and clever projects (worth checking out) to their DIY Link-It-Up #5 last week.  Thanks, OPC!

        Eating Healthy...?

        Eat eggs... Don't eat eggs.  Eat carbs... Avoid carbs.  Drink water with meals... Drink water between meals with only enough at meals to get the food down.  Don't eat after 7 PM... Have a healthy snack before bed.  

        It can get confusing to try to incorporate all the "good advice" out there for healthy eating.

        Another problem I have with all the healthy eating advice is that it often focuses on weight loss.  I have a family I want to eat healthily, but I have some I want gaining, not losing weight.

        Princess Sassy recently bought The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged.  She has long been interested in healthy eating, but is a definite sugar-holic.  She has been after me to check into this way of eating, because she and Prince Steadfast claim that after just a few days of eating as advised in the book, they felt more energetic and awake.  She also said people commented her face looked slimmer and she felt her muscles looked more toned, even though she hadn't time to lose any significant weight, and she hadn't exercised any more than usual.  

        This past weekend, while sitting through a 2 1/2 hour break in stadium bleachers (ouch) during the state wrestling tournament for which Steadfast was coaching, I skimmed through the book, since Sassy had it in her bag.  

        It shares some of the weight-loss or weight-control focus of other 'diet' books, but is more about eating natural, nutritious foods, and revitalizing your metabolism.  The author is against 'dieting' just to get to a certain weight, and encourages that 'Eating Clean' become a way of life.

        I'm not sure there is much in the book I didn't already know or believe.  For the most part, we even do most of it.  There is one practice I wasn't really familiar with, or hadn't thought of, and that's her liberal use of the whites of hard-boiled eggs as sort of a protein supplement for many snacks and meals.  For instance, she starts her day with oatmeal and berries, accompanied by 4 egg whites... From hard-boiled eggs with yolks removed and fed to her dogs.  (She eats only a few yolks per week.)  I'm not sure I agree with discarding so many yolks, at least for my kids, but it sure could make multiple hard-boiled eggs easier to get down.

        Her principles with which I agree (but always need re-reminding to follow): 

        • Eat whole (unprocessed) foods, free of preservatives and additives, as much as possible.
        • Eat a good breakfast, within an hour of rising.
        • Eat several small meals a day instead of 3 large ones.
        • Every meal should include lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
        • Drink lots of water... As many ounces to equal half your weight in pounds.  Weigh 150 pounds?  Drink 75 ounces of water.

        She also has me thinking about getting up with my early-risers, who usually see to their own breakfast, making it for them, and eating with them.  She says this will make a difference in the family, and I believe that.  If family dinners are so important, why not family breakfasts, too?  
        You now know Prince Inventive...
        Why have only one waffle, when he
        can layer 2?  :-)
        The time each usually takes to make their own meal can be spent eating more leisurely, and doing a bit of family bonding before starting the day.  Maybe I can get the '2nd shift' to get up earlier and join in, too.  Or maybe I'll just do it twice.

        This particular author seems to make reasonable sense.  One thing I like about her eating plan is that it allows for jumping in with both feet, going 'cold turkey' on bad eating habits, or for wading in, and making a couple positive adjustments at a time.  There is freedom for going off track once in awhile.  She leaves room for real people to eat a favorite treat now and then.  She drinks a cup of coffee every day, knowing there are negatives to doing so... but she likes it.  She is just careful to make up for the diuretic effect with enough water and good foods to replace the minerals the caffeine my flush away.  In this way she is an example of making choices and adjustments so that we may be free to include certain things we aren't willing to give up.  --Unless, perhaps, that's daily French fries or trying to fill all our liquid needs with Pepsi.

        The author, Tosca Reno, has many in her series of Eat Clean books.  I am particularly interesting in checking out  The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids: Simple Strategies for Lasting Health and Fitness, in hopes it will answer how Hubby and I can do weight loss and control, while the kids eat enough to fill the energy needs of sports and growth.

        Thursday, February 23, 2012

        The Library is my Friend

        I have had some challenges hanging over my head for which 2 books found on a recent trip to the library may help tremendously.

        1,001 Best Slow-Cooker Recipes:
        The Only Slow-Cooker Cookbook You'll Ever Need
        1) Even though my blog refers to Monday soup, that rarely happens any more.  I am just not that creative with soups and we are tired of my limited repertoire.   Also... I guess this would qualify as Challenge 1B, we have a crock pot that rarely gets used, because I don't know many recipes for it, and the ones I've tried have not produced anything we'd like to eat again.

        1,001 Best Slow-Cooker Recipes: The Only Slow-Cooker Cookbook You'll Ever Need may have given me an answer that kills both those birds with one stone.  I don't know if it's that much better than other crock pot cookbooks I've looked through, or if I'm just more open-minded this time... But there were several recipes I was excited to try, and seemed they might actually turn out!
        I'll let you know.

        2) I have been in painting and drawing classes since I was in junior high, and tried artwork on my own long before that.  I took a watercolor class all through my sophomore year of college, 
        I consider this my 'best' watercolor.  I painted it in 1980.
        I think I was afraid to do more because I felt it was a 'fluke'
        that I'd created something I considered a 'real watercolor,'
        and I wouldn't be able to do this well again...  Lame. 
        and continued with enough art in my junior and senior years that I earned an art minor.  But one professor at college kept telling me the same thing over and over... I could master techniques with all sorts of media, but my art 'didn't mean anything.'   It hurt, but I could see that it was true.  I called my watercolor instructor at the community college and told him what the professor kept saying, and that I was at a loss in knowing how to do what he wanted.   He told me that my art couldn't mean anything, as I hadn't lived long enough to have anything to say.  But I don't feel time has solved the problem!

        I have always excelled at things like line, balance, and proportion... Basic design.  I had designs chosen for sweatshirts, posters, etc., where line, balance, proportion, and impact made the difference.  I got high marks for assignments that were, basically, drills on the elements of design....
        Demonstration of color, line, and use of space.  I liked doing such things, and I still do.  I see these concepts in 'modern art' types of paintings, and think I could use this skill to my advantage.  But I know there is more to those pieces, too, and I have had no idea how to achieve that "something."

        This is in an old drawing pad...
        It's dated "Aug. '76."  Talk
        about "Throwback Thursday!"
        I could never draw cartoons... I was too careful.  I have trouble portraying the essence of something without trying to picture it realistically, with all the detail.  I look at modern art work, or expressionist pieces, and am in awe.  I see clearly what the artist is portraying, but it's not anything near photographically perfect.  It may be all the wrong colors, the brush strokes often don't move in the 'right' direction for shaping and shading, and some of the figures may be just a blur or a drip of paint... but it works and I don't really understand...  How they knew it would... Or why they tried it that way.
        The Creative Edge:
        Exercises to Celebrate Your Creative Self

        But now I found The Creative Edge: Exercises to Celebrate Your Creative Self.  There are activities using 25 techniques to explore "artistic potential...Building on basic creative processes."  There are certainly no photographically perfect paintings in this book!  I think/hope with the guidance to start, and enough time and practice to see what I can create, I may break out of my shell a little and make a move in the direction I'd like.  Again, I'll let you know how it goes... Maybe.  ;-)  At the least it will give us reason to add some fun and mess-making into our homeschool day.

        Wednesday, February 22, 2012

        (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

        "Mom, come here... It's a blogging opportunity!"  
        Prince Go-for-It yelled this from the kitchen at 10:45 PM...much to the dismay of Princess Sassy, who was already trying to sleep.

        He wanted me to show you Prince Inventive's typical, nightly "bedtime snack."   He's obviously not the one trying to cut calories.  ;-)

        This boy has no body fat on him, and he eats like this ALL the time...   I wish Prince Go-for-It would do some of the same.  

        A double stack of French Toast, 
        each layer with powdered sugar, bananas, 
        and butter dripping down the sides.
        Thank goodness for the whole grain bread 
        and the eggs to try to counterbalance the sugar!

        Tuesday, February 21, 2012

        Glass for Glasses

        It's looked like this for the last couple of years

        We finally have glass in our hutch!  A friend generously gave us some textured art glass awhile back, but it's been waiting to be installed.  We didn't DIY this project, but chose to let the professionals handle it.  

        They were able to cut it to size and seal it in with silicone, so we didn't risk breakage cutting the 6 pieces, and it will stay safely in place.

        The family will have a bit of adjustment, since we got used to accessing glassware through the openings in the frames, instead of actually opening them.  But it's definitely one more step in the right direction  toward a finished kitchen!

        Monday, February 20, 2012

        Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 4c

        "What steps did you take to make it functional for a large family?"...Continued... Again!

        Materials meet Family-Life... and Contributions aren't all about Work

        Materials/Atmosphere:  I had facts of life with which to deal... We have 8 active kids of varying ages.  We have 2 large dogs.  We live in a rainy climate with a yard with a dirt driveway that runs up in front of the house, meaning all feet coming inside, whether from playing on the lawn or coming from a car, traipse through dirt, and often mud.  

        We certainly teach our kids to be careful and conscientious, and we take precautions like using door mats, etc., but I never want material possessions, including our home, to take priority over relationship.  I want to encourage fun, adventure, and outdoor play (and work), not just scream about footprints, and worry about delicate materials or objects.  

        The materials that went into this house needed to be tough, hopefully, easy-clean, and user-friendly.  I wouldn't be asking my 90-year-old grandparents to remove their shoes, and I wasn't putting in floors that would require removing and retying young children's shoes multiple times a day.  Some people are comfortable with that, but not me.

        This was the case with all types of flooring, counters, etc.  --If it couldn't take a bit of unintentional abuse, or if it was so expensive, we'd worry about it getting used, it just wasn't for us.  Paint had to be scrubbable, finishes had to be water-resistant.  And, obviously, everything had to be 'affordably priced'...

        ...But not cheap.  We believe in choosing quality materials that will last.  No use saving money at the outset, only to have repair and replacement costs come up in just a few years.   Our sweat and muscle should only be applied to something that will last and serve us well. 

        I knew we'd want a home that we could dress up and be proud of, but yet was, more importantly, homey, welcoming, and comfortable for all who live here and all who visit... A "Barefoot House."  Not where one is required to remove their shoes, but where one is comfortable in every situation.... Where it lives like a still-nice-looking favorite sweater, or pair of jeans in which you look fantastic, but are totally comfortable...

        I'm sure there are varying definitions of a "Barefoot House," but I like this one, written by "Oruboris" on a discussion on the Gardenweb Building a Home Forum

        "Having a dress [or undress] code seems the antithesis of a barefoot lifestyle....
        "I'd say the true hallmark of a barefoot home is a feeling of comfort and relaxation, both physical and psychological, that is low maintenence without being shabby. It asks little and gives much, it welcomes, it is genuinely gracious but never grand."                                                                                                    

        Family Involvement/Input:

        Keeping cost and durability in mind, we still cared about look and the color;  something that reflected our family style and personalities.  That often meant looking a little longer and further, but it was a labor of love and a privilege.  I didn't get the blessing of choosing everything new and to my taste and design too often... ever... so I wanted to get it 'right.'

        In writing about planning this house, I've used a lot of "I."  True, I did the basic plan, and felt a lot of responsibility.  But making it into a true family project was most important in making the house ultimately functional for our large family.  As I made the many, many changes and adjustments in plans, I asked the family for feedback along the way... Often more frequently than they would've liked!  I made quite a few of the color and materials choices, but always with kids by my side, and with the OK from Hubby.  As you've seen in the building photos, everyone did a share of the work of construction, but all got to participate in the fun stuff, too...

        Without a lot of strong opinion about decor choices, Hubby was happy to leave most up to me.  He did, however, love the raised, 5-panel interior door style more than I loved the flat, 5-panel door style, so we went with his preference.  
        I had also planned on classic, round knobs, but he'd always loved the egg-shaped. Wanting both of us to feel it was our home, and be able to look at certain things and be excited about our decisions, we used his knob choice, too. 

        He had been extremely impressed with Marmoleum Click flooring during a home show excursion, so that drove the flooring choice for the kitchen, back hall, and sewing room... It's easy-care, comfy, durable, and DIY-friendly.  So in that case, he chose the material, and I chose the colors.

        Princess Artiste was a main source of thoughtful opinions.  At age 11, she was around the most, and was great company on many trips to tile shops, etc., not only helping watch younger siblings Eager and CuddleBunny as I looked, but lending her artistic eye and thoughts as I needed.  She was the one most willing to help... Or too nice to not!

        Installation was a
        "Mom & kids"group project.
        I really wanted to do a 'tile rug' in our entry, and I let her choose the tile. I had seen intricate patterns, similar to Persian rugs or quilts, as we visited every tile shop or source in the area.   I couldn't determine which I liked best, and tossed the decision to her. 

        Princess Artiste wisely elected to keep things simple.  She had fallen in love with penny round tiles early in our search, and was glad to return to them.  

        I was slightly afraid they might clash with the also red-brown Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors, but they were an exact match!  It was meant to be.

        Princess Bossy, also interested in design and interiors, helped choose the upstairs carpeting, and had free rein (within budget limits) for the library and the main bathroom.  

        She chose to paint the library with a deep brown, similar to the color of chocolate syrup.  She kept the room in a rich vein by choosing a chandelier for the central lighting.  

        She went a whole other direction with the lighting in her bathroom after falling in love with a moose-adorned fixture. She explained that the whimsical animals perched over her mirror would make any grumpy morning into a smiley one.  It was a little more expensive than I'd planned, but I thought the promise of a cheerful morning countenance from a girl, like her mother, who is decidedly not a morning person, would be priceless to all of us!  She chose the countertop and deep gray-green paint to coordinate with the fixture, giving that bathroom a lodgy, but elegant look.

        Princess Sassy made the selections for the upstairs bath she, her younger sisters, and Prince Stoic shared when we moved in.  She aimed for a blue-green color scheme, with Beluga Formica, pale gray walls (BM Gray Horse), a combination of glass tiles in teal, gray and light blue.  With the chrome faucet and more traditional polished nickel light fixture, the room is light, clean, and a nice twist on a Craftsman, period style.

        Sassy also chose the fun turquoise blue (Ralph Lauren Emporer) that brightens our laundry room.  Thankfully, it was a great transition from this bathroom, to which it's connected, and we were able to find vinyl flooring that went nicely with both.

        Prince Inventive had control of the boys' bathroom.  He chose a masculine blackish, grid-patterned Wilsonart laminate with linear tiles to match.  The vanity knobs repeat the grid pattern, 
        but the frog knobs for the linen cabinet were Prince CuddleBunny's fun addition.  

        The kids were able to choose their own bedroom wall colors.  The younger boys put their heads together, choosing an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, and going with the taupish gray (Ralph Lauren Manor Grey) they had and liked in their bedroom in our last house.  

        The girls had a bad outing with the seemingly spring-like Behr English Meadow, which turned into a garish green when reflecting back on itself from all four walls.  Second time was the charm, when they settled on the softer and bluer Behr Gray Morning.  

        The dark red was a great backdrop
        for Prince Stoic-made guitars
        We were a little surprised when our staid Stoic chose Behr's Cinnamon Cherry for his room!  It was fun to see the stronger, brighter part of his personality reflected in his surroundings.

        Of course, this involvement helped them all feel all the more that this was truly their house, too.  It was great to see them take ownership, and proudly point out the colors and/or materials they had a hand in choosing.  Their investment in work and input help them take pride in our home and, hopefully, makes them want to continue to keep it in like-new condition.

        In the planning stages, the hope was to create Our Home for Ten (RHome410), but the result is Our Home by Ten.  :-) 

        Thanks again, Ellie of  Beauty 4 Ashes, for asking these questions about our house and inspiring this whole series!


        Saturday, February 18, 2012

        Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 4b

        "What steps did you take to make it functional for a large family?"... Continued

        Mechanical and Construction Considerations:

        Heat and Hot Water:  I was tired of cold showers and high heating bills with our former oil furnace.  In this house, we opted for a heat pump, which was put on zones, so we could concentrate heat where we needed it, upstairs or down, without adding heat where it wasn't needed.  This also pertains to cooling in the summer, a luxury we'd never enjoyed before.

        $1 for 5 minutes +
        another qtr for every
        extra minute.  Might
        have paid the water bill!
        We also have 2 hot water heaters, so that after 9 others shower, Mom might get a minute or so of lukewarm water for hers.  I threatened to put in campground showers... The kind that take coins for a certain amount of time, for which we'd give the kids a certain number of coins per week.  If they wanted long showers, they'd have to put in their own earnings.  I didn't do it, but I still think it would've been a good idea!  ;-)

        The water heaters and auxiliary furnace are all housed in the crawlspace, so don't take valuable square footage from the house.

        Building Economy:  The reading I did prior to planning our home gave me a few hints about saving money and getting the most of out of the space I planned.  One strong suggestion was to build square...with as few corners and turns as possible, as such things are more labor intensive, and more expensive per square foot because of additional materials and possible waste.  It's also best to plan the exterior (wall length and door and window placement) in increments of 2 feet... even 4 or 8, if possible, since framing materials come in even lengths, and sheet goods come 4 feet x 8 feet or 4 feet x 12 feet.  This means less cutting (labor saving) and, again, less waste (money saving).  The main part of our house is 32 feet by 40 feet, but I placed windows and doors by appearance and size we wanted, not by the 2-foot rule. 

        The series of pocket doors between master
        bedroom and boys' bedroom that makes
        our bathroom/shower set-up work.
        Sort of like the entrance to "Control" at
        the beginning of Get Smart!
        Limiting Unneeded Square Footage:  With 10 people and money enough for only 2500 square feet (stretched to 2750), every square foot of our house needed to serve a purpose.  I skimped and reduced... as I said, maybe too much in terms of closet space.  
        I found that in drawing our floor plan, door swings could require a lot of room without gain in room function... So we have 9 pocket doors in our house.  I was hesitant at first, remembering cheap, hollow pocket doors and weak hardware from pocket doors I'd used years back.  But Hubby assured me he could get sturdy hardware and we could use solid core or even French-style glass paned doors in the pockets.  I love them.  They do the jobs quite well, are not hard to use, and the doors are never in the way.

        Expansion:  The only way I could know expansion would be possible is if we planned for it from the outset.  First of all, we needed to place the house appropriately on the lot so that any additions would fit without encroaching on lot boundaries or the required buffer around our septic system.  We also wanted to plan for an easy-as-possible, inexpensive-as-possible change.  Adding the garage meant losing the back porch, which was sad, but unavoidable.  Other than that, just a simple add-on, sized and angled to keep the back of the house far enough from the back property line.

        Adding a family room would be more complex, since it would become part of the house, and need electricity and heat, joining in the existing systems.  In preparation for that dream, we placed a larger-than-necessary header over the window in the center of our south wall, so that it could become a wider doorway to the new room.  
        Rendering of idea for family room.
        Doorway is where current window is.
        Also, we dead-ended wiring runs from each side of the window, so we wouldn't have to relocate wiring that stretched across under it, and so we could, quite easily, just continue circuits into the family room for outlets and lighting.  HVAC lines were planned similarly, for easy extension of ducting runs.  The window we'll remove will move to the front of that new room. 

        One more post to go on this subject, so please 'stay tuned'.... 

        Friday, February 17, 2012

        Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 4a

        "What steps did you take to make it functional for a large family?"

        I think I have covered some of this in the answers to the 3 previous questions, so please forgive any repeat information.  I think I have a lot to say on this topic, so I'll probably divide it into 2 or more posts, rather than have this one even longer than my other 3.

        Layout and Features:

        I started the planning our house with barely more in mind than the fact that we needed a family-sized kitchen in which we all could work, and a stove that offered us more large burners than those we'd always had on our 30" electric range. I actually started off thinking we'd keep things economical and get our extra burners and a second oven by having 2 ranges, almost side-by-side.  But I ended up with far better.

        I showed in my series on kitchen zones, and particularly in the post on zones and workpaths, how our zone-focused kitchen layout allows us all to work on different projects without working on top of each other, or walking through each other's paths.  It's WONderful.  The 48" Wolf rangetop  not only offers us 8 large burners, but also room for 2 cooks to work, side-by-side.  (I'm pretty certain there have been times where 3 different people used it at once.)  The double oven lets 2 separate projects or 1 large, several-rack batch of something cook all at once.  Different counter heights also offer comfort for different sizes and ages of people.  For our baking, cooking, and food-loving family, plus friends, the kitchen design has been pretty successful.

        Following that, I had other specific hopes and goals to keep in mind.  Some had to do with function and comfort, and some had to do with economy, since keeping costs down while getting the most for our money is a constant concern for this big family living on one teacher's income...

        Storage:  My mom taught me at a young age that good storage is crucial in the efficient management of a home.  I've always believed that closets are what make a small house (or modest house for a lot of people) work.  So that has been the source of much self-battery and tears since we moved in... WHERE are these closets I'd promised myself, and that I'd considered absolutely necessary?  I have no back door closet, no utility closet, and no linen closets.  WHAT was I thinking?!!  But the truth is, people space took priority, and the built-ins and bed drawers were supposed to be the compromise, with each room or person storing their own extra sheets, etc.  I can say those things are priceless, but don't quite replace more substantial, central storage.  As I said in my previous post, my walk-in closet holds a lot of what those absentee, public closets might store for us.

        Dining:  I also mentioned previously that it was important for us to be able to sit at the table, at least for nightly family dinners, and to be able to fit guests and larger, special event meals on occasion.  This meant a room long enough for our 10-foot table, plus the ability to add to or expand table space through to the front of the house to seat the 40 or 50 our family may grow to in coming years. 

        Additionally, it was important to me that the kitchen not be in full view to the dining room.  Preparing meals for 10 or more usually means the kitchen is left in less than pristine condition by the time we sit down to eat.  I don't want to look at that while I eat, an uncomfortable, cluttery scene to begin with, and a constant reminder of the work waiting to be done.  It especially upset me in our past house when guests felt compelled to get up and clean, instead of relaxing after dinner, sitting to visit.  --And I want my family to also sit and enjoy each other's company at dinner, focusing on each other and the conversation, not have the waiting dishes be a part of the dinnertime atmosphere.

        The doors also keep hungry, bread-
        loving doggies out when things are
        cooling, and within a snout's reach
        Of course, for efficiency's sake, the dining room had to be close to the kitchen.  Doors that we can close during a meal enabled this while also solving the view problem.  The glass panes allow a still-open feeling, while stopping the eye before traveling through to the probably messy kitchen beyond.  The added advantage of the doors is to confine noisy kitchen activity, when necessary.   

        Bed Space:  I discussed this in Question 3, too.  We had 10 people to go to bed here each night, and needed adequate space for those, most of them growing, bodies.  Space for the movement and personalities that accompany those bodies had to be figured in.

        Sewing/Art:  Besides cooking, sewing and art are important to many of us here.  Whenever I start to sew, it seems to motivate others to come up with their own projects, and like in the kitchen, a few people want to work at once.  
        Sewing room overview rendering

        Our sewing room has a continuous, U-shaped counter around 3 walls of the room.  This allows two completely independent sewing machine stations, with storage and counterspace in between.  We will, one day, have a work island in here that stores patterns and offers a wider, deeper work area for cutting and pinning.... Also for other types of arts and crafts projects.

        You might be able to make out the desk to the right of the
        aquarium shelf.  It is 4 feet, so homeschooled students and
        teacher can work side-by-side, when necessary, or 2 can
        view the computer
        Pets:  We've always had pets and wanted a pet-friendly house.  In our last house, a 10-gallon aquarium actually sat on one corner of our kitchen island, because it had no other place.  Therefore, I was determined to not let that happen again, and planned in space for a 50-gallon aquarium in a space where everyone could enjoy it.  The built-in cabinetry has not been built for that area yet, but it will.  One area I feel I missed was feeding spaces for the cats and dogs... Separate feeding space, since the dogs love to snack on the cats' food, if possible!  --Right now the cat food sits on the sewing counter, which is not my favorite.  The other issue is water... It's nice to offer them water indoors, but tough to do that where it won't damage the flooring.  We're still working on that one, and haven't found the answer to that one, either.

        Options:  I'm sorry that this category title is a little vague, but I'll explain.  We needed places to be together... We also needed places to be separate, in smaller groups, or alone.  We needed places to be loud and places to have quiet.  Places to play and places to work/write/read/think.  

        You may have noticed that at the doorway to our living room, some French doors are leaning against one side.  I concocted a plan for a 4-door set up... 2 doors will be mostly stationary, and with 2 more doors in the middle that open and close.  This would allow that room to become a quiet, seating area for conversation or reading, closed off from activity and, hopefully, noise from the rest of the house.  
        But the doors will also be able to hinge back completely out of the way if we ever need to extend the dining room table the full length of the house.  We haven't framed the doorway and installed those doors yet...But they really aren't needed until we build the family room addition... Who knows when?

        We have 3 desk areas, and I'd hoped to tuck a bench into the stair landing as a cozy reading spot, but that didn't fit in our streamlined plan.  The library was to be another spot that had a desk area, comfy chairs, and a table at which to play board games.  Now I think it will be our exercise and guest room instead.  

        Laundry:  Another dream was a large laundry room, possibly with 2 sets of laundry equipment.  I wanted a laundry tub, plenty of folding space (so that no laundry left the room unfolded), cubbies labeled with names for placing that folded laundry, and room for large hampers in which to sort dirty laundry, plus a full-size ironing board that never had to be put away.  This was another dream that had to be toned down, due to budget and space limitations.

        We plumbed for one laundry set in the laundry room upstairs, near all the bedrooms, and one off the sewing room, planned to be used for anyone using the library as bedroom, and for kitchen, dining, and main bath towels.  We didn't have the money to buy 2 sets of laundry equipment at first, so we got by pretty well with only the laundry upstairs.  When the in-laws no longer needed it, we were the recipients of their laundry set, which now serves Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast, and will continue to when they move above the garage.

        Our laundry room has, instead of an official laundry tub, a sink the same as that we have for our kitchen prep sink.  It's adequate for almost any soaking or rinsing task, and much better than nothing.  That leaves us about 4 feet of counter for folding.  There are shelves above that counter and above the washer and dryer.  I thought I'd want enclosed cabinets, but find the open shelves to be handier.  I also incorporated a hanging rod at one end above the folding counter.  Under that counter, and to the left of the laundry sink was space for hampers.  It would only fit 3 and I needed 4... One each for towels, dark colors, light colors, and reds.  So Hubby built shelves and we use baskets instead of hampers.

        Entries:  After having an entry that was about 3 feet by 4 feet in our last home, I wanted something more gracious behind our front door.  I wanted to be able to answer the door and have the person on the other side, whether friend or stranger, to see only the entry from the doorway, not into the entire house, and especially any kitchen mess.  
        It was when a 3D rendering showed me that from the front door, I could look through doorways straight to the main work area of the kitchen, that we added a door between the kitchen and entry, which is also helpful for noise control, as with the doors between kitchen and dining.

        I'd also always dreamed of one of those cute mud room spaces with lockers and cubbies in which to organize family coats, boots, and sports gear.  This also didn't happen, and, in fact, we barely got the family to use the back door, so muddy feet and pets' paws  have tromped through the main entry instead. I hope to change that with the room that connects the house to the garage addition.  That new door should be easy for the family to use and the space will offer the storage space we now lack.

        This is a good place to stop for now, and I'll come back with Mechanical and Construction Considerations that help our home work for the 10 of us next...

        Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...