Livability at a Glance™


De-Stress Your Home and Life


livability at a glance

Personal Space
After a long and hectic day, finding personal space to decompress is as important as breathing. Everyone has their own way to de-stress. Find a place in your home that works for you. What you like to do while you unwind will help shape this space.

If reading or watching a little TV is how you like to unwind, a sitting area in the master bedroom or a cozy hearth room may be the perfect answer. Enjoy nature? Then covered outdoor living spaces will be high on your list. If you like to work off stress by working out, an exercise room works for you!

Large Pantry
As a nation, we’re cooking less, but not eating less. Some grew up in homes where a hot cooked breakfast was the daily norm. Today, a bowl of cereal, Pop-Tarts, or a granola bar might be more common. That means an increasing need for storage for prepared foods.

Do you need space for your bread maker, indoor grill, food processor or mixer? Don’t let clutter on your countertop stress you, put them in the pantry. In addition to making pantries bigger, there’s an evolving industry helping to make pantries more organized, through innovative storage solutions. With items organized and on display, we can quickly scan the pantry before a restocking trip to the grocery store, saving both time and the aggravation of returning home only to find you forgot something.

Rear Entry Foyer
A funny thing happened over the past couple decades. The door in from the garage became our principal entry to the home. Sure, a formal front entry to greet guests is important and is often a focal point of the home’s design, but we’re becoming increasingly comfortable with family and friends coming through the garage.

An emerging trend is to think of the entry from the garage as a rear foyer. And, just as you probably wouldn’t make your laundry room a part of your front entryway, you probably don’t want folks traipsing past piles of laundry on their way in from the garage. Note: you may want to modify your home plan if originally designed with the laundry/mudroom entry from the garage.

Our research revealed nothing is more stressful than getting the family out the door on-time in the morning, with everything they need. Rear foyers may offer solutions such as lockers for each of the kids, and even walk-in closets. A bench for removing shoes, is also popular.

Drop Zone
Mail, keys, cell phones, and personal devices – wouldn’t it be great to have convenient place to drop our stuff, so it doesn’t end up as kitchen clutter? The Drop Zone is the answer. Typically made to match kitchen cabinetry and 3 to 4 feet in width, drop zones often incorporate a recharging center, mail sorting, drop-off counter, plus cabinets and drawers for everything from flashlights to sunglasses. Some drop zones are designed with doors behind which everything is concealed. They may include one or more locking cabinet doors or drawers for expensive or personal items. They may also double as a family message center when outfitted with cork board or a white write-on board.

Stress-free living includes knowing you’ll never lose your keys again and where your fully charged cell phone is when you leave the house.

Split Bedrooms
After a stressful day at work retreat to the owner’s suite that is separated from secondary bedrooms for privacy. Designers typically try to buffer the owner’s bedroom from other bedrooms by careful placement of closets, hallways, and baths. As opposed to designing a bedroom wing for the home, one-story designs in which the secondary bedrooms are situated far from the owner’s bedroom are becoming more popular.

Walk-In Showers
Because they are used every day in our time-starved society, showers are becoming the focal point of many bathrooms. As showers are getting bigger in today’s homes, they are also getting more luxurious. Multiple shower heads are commonplace, as are seats in the shower. How long does it take for clear shower doors to show white streaks? Low-maintenance showers are in demand as well as walk-in showers that have no shower door to make cleaning easier. If your shower does require a door, look at the frameless versions that are elegant and easier to clean.

Split Vanities
Typically, women take more time in the morning in the bathroom getting ready than men. And, a fair amount of that time is spent leaning over the countertop. Split vanities provide handy storage solutions for items each spouse uses daily, keeping your vanity neat and organized. And, if one partner likes things clean and orderly while the other doesn’t even notice this type of thing, neither will be annoyed at the condition of their vanity area.

Recognizing that men are on average several inches taller than women, building the vanities to be different heights is another aspect of a comfortable, distressing bath.

Soaking Tubs
When asked about what they would like to do to de-stress after a long day, many women envision taking a relaxing bath. The experience is both soothing and rejuvenating – especially when surrounded by aromatic candles and pretty soaps.

Standard tubs have given way to soaking tubs and jetted tubs. Look at the height of the tub in terms of getting in and out. A step up or sinking the tub 7 or 8 inches lower than the surrounding floor, both make it easier to get in and out. Another aspect to consider is if there is a window over the tub. Privacy is as important as natural light. How easy will it be to reach over the tub and close the shades? You may want to opt for glass block or for the new privacy glass windows that go from clear to opaque at the flip of a switch.

Craft/Gardening Area
How many times do you have a project spread out on the kitchen or dining room table? An area out of public view would take the stress out of constant picking up. Having room in the home to pursue these and other hobbies can contribute to distressing, especially if works-in-progress can be left undisturbed.

The primary considerations for such spaces are related to the type of activity. Gardening is ideally suited for an area with a sink in it and being close to an outside door. Sewing and needlework projects are enhanced by high light levels. Woodworking fits well with concrete floors for easy clean-up, plus plenty of electrical outlets for various power tools.

Outdoor Living
Most people long to spend time outdoors. This is good, as research shows being outside is beneficial for both our physical and mental health. Like many other product decisions, balancing cost, aesthetics, low maintenance, and durability are principal considerations for porches, decks and patios. But these same aspects also apply to landscaping and irrigation, exterior lighting, play structures, and other backyard decisions.

The Brady Bunch gave us

a few laughs as well as insights into issues families face as they try to unite two families as one through re-marriage. Certainly, the Brady’s housekeeper, Alice, helped smooth over some of the inevitable conflict. While most of us do not enjoy the luxury of a live-in housekeeper, there are steps that can be taken when building or remodeling a home that can reduce parent’s angst of bringing two families together. 

Typically, girls spend more time in the bathroom – which usually doubles as their dressing, hair care, and make-up center. Girls need space to keep these items as well as other feminine products. Boys generally don’t give bathrooms much consideration (as evidenced by the toilet seat being left up as well as dirty clothes and wet towels strewn about). Of course, separate baths for each of the kid’s bedrooms would be ideal, but the expense and space required can make it impractical. Still, parents of blended families have legitimate concerns, especially if boys and girls from different backgrounds will be sharing the same bath area.

Compartmented baths are a welcome solution! A traditional compartmented bath places a door between the sink/vanity and the toilet/tub area, allowing two family members to use the bath area at the same time. As secondary baths in some designs have grown larger, two sinks reduce stress when several people are getting ready at the same time.

Even better is the emerging solution of having vanity/sink areas private to each secondary bedroom, with private access to a shared toilet/tub area. This is especially welcome if one of the kids is a “cleanie” and the other a “messy,” as they can have their sink/vanity area to their liking!

The occasional child presents different challenges. Imagine having your 6-year old daughter who lives with you only on weekends and for a month during the summer. First and foremost is her emotional wellbeing. In this regard, stability and familiarity are paramount.

Each of these three floor plans illustrate bathroom options for the blended family.

GOOD - (Plan 43056) a typical compartmented bath.
BETTER - (Plan 42000) a bath with vanities in each bedroom.
BEST - (Plan 42003) half-baths in each bedroom with a shared bathing area.

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