Sort It: Homes may differ greatly but layout dilemmas are often the same

Home design needs to be flexible, with lots of storage, to support the way we live today


How many of you would say that your home makes you happy? This is probably the priority for most people. Their concern is not about aesthetics, or how to achieve a wow-factor, but much more about what they can change to increase the enjoyment of their homes.

Our plans for our homes have changed dramatically in recent times. People are finally accepting that the home they are in now is where they will be staying. For some this is a relief and for others a dilemma, because they had not planned that it would be their family home and so cannot see how it can possibly be the home of their dreams.

Some people have had to take their elderly parents in to live with them, others have decided not to have any more children and others again have grown-up children moving back home. People’s circumstances are changing and their homes need to adapt.

It is possible to change your situation and improve your surroundings but it’s vital that you get the right advice.

An expert’s input will mean that you can make the most of what you have within the confines of your budget.

I recently did a job for clients who had extended their home with the intention of adding square footage.

They did not seek advice and had built a costly extension to the rear of the house. Instead of creating a more spacious home for them and their three children, the new addition did not connect well with the existing house. It was long, narrow and quite dark, it lacked storage space and was difficult to furnish.

Because so much money had already been spent, a very strict budget had to be adhered to.

The first task was to firmly establish a brief of what the family needed and what they felt the shortcomings were.

By prioritising key areas and omitting other features from the family’s wish-list, such as a porch to the front of the house (which would have looked lovely but would have made little difference to the family’s enjoyment of their home), a layout was achieved that offered them a home that they could enjoy and grow into. And most importantly that could be delivered within budget.

I’ve come to realise that while we are all so different, our dilemmas (when it comes to our homes) are so very similar.

The main area of concern for people at the moment is finding additional space for storage, especially in new houses that have an abundance of bathrooms and en suites but absolutely nowhere to store anything.

When it comes to the design of people’s homes it’s so important to take a holistic approach. By considering everything from the layout of the house to the furniture, art, lighting, as well as the garden and other outdoor spaces, you get a far more complete design solution and one that fits perfectly with how the occupants live.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant

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