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...

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