• Michelle Foley

Creating the Most Usable Space

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

You can have all the square footage in the world, but if it's not laid out in manner that best suits your daily needs, than it doesn't really matter. For instance our current house right now is 3,000 square feet but because of the layout of the house we really spend the majority of our time in 600 of that. Granted we were limited to the house being a split ranch, and walls we couldn't knock down when renovating, but at the end of the day we have a ton of wasted space. Going into designing our new house I knew I wanted to change all that. So when the builder came to us with our first rough draft of the layout, I asked myself these 5 questions:

1. Where do you spend the majority of your time at home?

For me, and I'm sure for a lot of other people, I spend 90% of my time when I'm home in the kitchen! It is just the hub of our house and the center of the majority of our activity. That's not to say that other rooms aren't equally as important but I think its best to rank them in order of importance for you and go from there when allocating space.

2. What are you missing from that room/space ?

In our current house we were limited by a lot in terms of what could go where in the kitchen, and at first when I moved in I loved the kitchen. Like I said it's the space I'm in A LOT, and it can be frustrating because the lay out of the appliances is all wrong. I can't open some of the cabinets when the dishwasher is open, and we don't have a ton of cabinets, so every one is pretty important and needs to be accessible! Also only one person can get to the sink, or the cabinets above the sink for that matter, at a time and its very tight to try and load the dishwasher while someone is doing dishes in the sink. This makes it very hard as a group to try and clean up the kitchen quickly after any kind of big meal. These are all things we never thought of until actually living through it. Like most things in your house you really wont realize what is annoying until its staring you right in the face as the most obnoxious thing you COULD have prevented. So instead of stress over the possibility that you might royally eff up your layout, I just like its best to take a lot of time and consideration when you're deciding on the layout of your soon to be new space.

3. Where do you spend the least amount of your time?

This is another obvious one but important none the less. One reason is because you really want to maximize your usable space and minimize anything that will become dead space. There are several rooms in our current house that take up a lot of space that could be otherwise "re-purposed" in my opinion. Our formal dinning room for one, our foyer which is massive but basically empty with no real functionality (like a mudroom), and our massive office, that mostly gets used on Sundays when my husband goes up there to pay the bills in peace. I would say we currently have close to 1,000 square feet of space that could be turned into more realistic usable space.

4. Do you still need to have that space included, and if so what is the minimum amount of square footage you could get away with designating for that area?

For instance, we use our dinning room one day out of the year, for what it's meant to be used for at least. The other 364 days it becomes our random storage for crap we have no place for and that we pile on top of our nice dinning room table. Because I like the look of a formal dinning room, and also we have a beautiful dinning room set I don't want to get rid of, we will be having a dinning room in our next house; BUT I'm only allocating the exact minimum amount of space we need to fit our existing dinning room set. Since our new dining room is set up to be right off of the kitchen I'm having them open up the cabinets enough for a doorway into the "dinning room", and taking 5' x 13' out of that room for my pantry! We are even pushing the kitchen wall back a foot into that (over sized) dinning room to account for the lost cabinet space from putting in a doorway. Now if you're someone who uses your dinning room a lot for entertaining this might not sound appealing to you, but again its look at your plans an envisioning what would make your day to day life easier. Our plans had a rather small pantry and that was just not an option for me. I have a tiny pantry now and it is not something I am willing to sacrifice on this new house. It is one of my MUST HAVES and I personally don't care that I'm taking up 1/3 of the dinning room to do it.

5. What are your things that annoy you during your day to day ?

When you really think about it there are solutions to almost everything that make your life more difficult. Even if they're not HUGE deals, you'll be surprised how much the littlest changes to your house can change your life for the better. For instance in my house our table in the kitchen becomes a place everyone tosses their bags, jackets, etc. when they get home. Again we have that huge foyer with a coat closet, but no real "quick drop" solution. In the new house we plan on mostly coming in through the garage like we do now, so we are having the builders create a mudroom off of the garage with a built in bench, coat rack hooks, and storage under the bench for shoes. It's one of those things that seems like it might not be necessary, but if it prevents me from spending close to an hour every day going back and forth between the kitchen table and the coat closet, I'll be happy! Another thing is my dog loves to run in and out of the house about 15 times a day, and so I spend a good portion of my day letting him in and out of the back yard - enter built in dog door in the mudroom door to the backyard, and our problem is solved! Not to mention if we're gone for an extended period of time or he gets up in the middle of the night with an urgent matter.... the dog door is a must for anyone with a dog! The list for me goes on and on but my point is to find the things that you might not even realize add stress or just extra work to your daily routine, and think long and hard on how you can solve it. I promise there is a solution to MOST things... now if only I could create a built in baby sitter to watch my daughter whenever we're in need... hmmmm.

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Rockville Centre, NY, USA

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