When it comes to designing your own home, the decisions don’t end once you’ve determined how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like to incorporate into the space. While the sky is most certainly the limit, the last thing you want is a finished product that doesn’t meet the needs of you and your family. Aside from choosing the granite for the kitchen countertops and the perfect paint color to make your living room pop, the choices you make in regard to the home’s overall design cannot be overlooked.
Here are 10 common home design flaws you’ll want to avoid—and simple solutions that will keep you from spending an arm and a leg after the fact.
1. Dead-end living rooms. Dead-ends aren’t just infuriating when you’re running late. They can also wreak havoc in the home. While you may not be able to see past family game/movie night, when the time comes for your annual Halloween bash, the last thing you want is for guests to be unable to move through the space comfortably. However, according to James Roche—CEO of Houseplans.com—you don’t have to knock down walls to create a space that’s conducive to movement. In fact, Roche suggests the addition of a doorway as a cost-effective way to ensure your family and guests can easily move through the space.
Missed connections. Is your home lacking a connection to either a sheltered outdoor space—or even the back yard? “By adding doors to a patio or porch, you’ll create an outdoor connection that allows the house to expand in good weather while connecting to the site and landscape,” says Roche.
Non-functional front porches. Relaxing on a rocker with a good book is a great way to unwind after a long work week, but if you neglect to plan ahead and take measurements, you may come to find out that the porch isn’t even large enough to enjoy. According to Roche, the porch should be at least eight feet deep to allow for furniture.
Massive kitchen islands. “Analyze how much space you actually need for casual dining and food prep,” says Roche. While islands provide alternative space that can be used for prepping meals and seating additional guests, you don’t want it to overpower the space.
Low ceilings. Small, cramped spaces are the bane of every homeowner’s existence, and low ceilings will ultimately work against an already small space. “Low ceilings are especially regrettable when stairs seem to disappear into them,” says Roche. “Make the stairway a light source with a double-height ceiling over it and add a window at the upper landing or high in the stairwell.”
Lack of windows. When it comes to windows, there’s no such thing as too many. “Windows on only one wall in major spaces create glare and a cave-like feeling,” says Roche. To avoid this phenomenon, be sure to incorporate at least two windows into major spaces such as the great room so that there’s light coming in from at least two sides.
Circuitous routes. Weekly grocery trips are painful enough, but not having an easy route from the garage to the kitchen can make unloading the car an even bigger challenge. To make the process as simple and stress-free as possible, “straighten out and shorten the access route between the garage and kitchen,” says Roche.
Nonexistent counter space. From the kitchen to the bathroom—and everywhere in between—ample counter space is a necessity. But when it comes to the bathroom specifically, the inclusion of spa-like amenities often takes away from storage space. The solution? “Use under-mounted sinks or integral sinks—those that are integrated into the counter itself—to maximize counter space,” says Roche.
Shower doors. “Cheap sliding doors attached to tub-showers induce claustrophobia instead of cleanliness,” says Roche, who goes on to say that the best way around the problem is to use shower curtains.
High/complex roof configurations. When it comes to designing your home, it’s always a good idea to keep things simple. “Unnecessarily high or complex roof configurations with too many gables, hips and bumps make for poor architectural proportions and increased potential for leaks,” says Roche.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s Managing Editor and contributor to the company’s blog, Housecall.
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