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Flexible Living: Changing Households

Flexible Living: Changing Households

With more than 60 million Americans living in multi-generational households, the tremendous popularity of home plans with two owner’s suites is easy to understand. In fact, 20% of Design Basics’ top-selling home plans last year have two owner’s suites!

Caring for aging parents, shared finances, and bringing the family together are the most common reasons for these plans’ popularity. With grandparents or even great-grandparents in the home, the suite they use will usually be located on the first floor, allowing them to mostly avoid climbing stairs. The Cedar Glen II (plan #42229) features both owner’s suites on the main floor. Secondary bedrooms are found upstairs as well as possible expansion over the garage – there’s even a version enhanced with skylights.

With its streamlined foundation and modest 42-foot width the Cedar Glen II (plan #42229) is affordable and accommodating for multiple generations.

Independent entertaining can call for a somewhat different layout, well-illustrated in the McAllister (plan #42027). Here, the original design’s Bedrooms 2 and 3 can be reconfigured as a second owner’s suite complete with its own entertaining area and possible private access from the front covered porch. This is a great layout for times when your parents are having a few friends over at the same time you’ve planned on a get-together with neighbors in the great room.
Frahm Cottage - #42355

Frahm Cottage - #42355

Casitas

Even more independence can be found in our plans with Casitas, such as the Frahm Cottage (plan #42355). Positioned behind the garage, the Casita is in effect a small apartment, complete with its own kitchenette, laundry area, and gathering area. This Casita has its own outside entrance, though a door could be added from the main home’s rear foyer.

Petaluma - #42290 UL

Petaluma - #42290

Casitas can also be the perfect solution when a live-in caregiver will be part of the household. The Casita in the Petaluma (plan #42290) is located atop the home’s garage. Adding a door off the second-floor hallway means immediate caregiver help is just steps away. Or maybe your situation involves adult children. Forty-five percent of college graduates move back in with their parents after college, often due to the huge student debt they have taken on. Perhaps it is the loss of a job or other life circumstance. Casitas can provide the togetherness AND separation these households crave. Casitas may also provide some rental income. A surprising number of Millennial home buyers look to rent out part of their home from the day they move in.

Whether it’s a desire to grow closer, sharing expenses and upkeep, or life-altering events, households are changing. New homes designed with two owner’s suites are meeting the need and facing little competition from resale homes.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

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Flexible Living: You Have Options

Flexible Living: You Have Options

“Have it your way,” wasn't just an advertising slogan; it's evident throughout our homes, showing up in our priorities. That’s why you sometimes see layout options highlighted alongside the original design’s presentation floor plan artwork. When the plan was being created, our designers recognized that suggesting a particular modification would appeal to a significant percentage of new home buyers and therefore included that option on the construction drawings.

Bedrooms

The Teglia Place (plan #42481) provides a good example. As originally designed, the split three-bedroom plan offers a powder bath, highly prized by people who love to entertain, adjoining the staircase. However, some home buyers would be willing to forego the powder bath in favor of spacious walk-in closets for both secondary bedrooms. As both configurations are shown on the construction drawings, the option is also illustrated with the presentation artwork.

Bathrooms

As originally designed, the second floor of the Dillon Park (plan #42477) shows a two-story high front entry and owner’s suite with dual-sink vanity, linen cabinet, toilet area that provides privacy without the claustrophobia of having a door, and 6’-4”’ x 7’-8”’ walk-in closet.

Some homeowners prize “me” space around the sink they use in their bathroom. In the “Alternate Owner’s Bath” rather than one vanity with two sinks, two separate vanities provide counter space for items each person uses. (This also helps when one wants to keep the vanity area clean, but that’s not important to the other.) And to avoid the door into your bathroom swinging against the vanity, a pocket door is suggested instead. A bonus is being able to peer into the mirror and see how you look from behind, as reflected in the other vanity’s mirror.

Dillon Park - #42477 Opt LaundryThat two-story entryway is a “Wow!” feature many buyers like or even expect; however, other buyers look at that space and wonder how much it costs to heat, considering it “wasted space.” For these buyers, instead of the two-story entry, they could opt to add the 6’-4” x 8’-8” “open to below” space to the walk-in closet, plus have a convenient seat for dressing (natural light is great for discerning colors in your wardrobe!).

Still another option in lieu of the two-story high entry is adding an upstairs laundry room. This home plan also has a first-floor owner’s suite and was designed with the laundry room on the main floor. Note: two-story high space is counted only one time when calculating a home’s square footage. Finishing off that space upstairs adds 58 square feet to the home.

Home Offices

People who work from home, whether that’s a full-time home-based business, telecommuting two days a week, or just finishing up a project at home, typically need dedicated space for where they’ll do their work. The Slater (plan #29333) suggests a couple options, starting with the traditional home office at the front. This location is popular for its convenience to the front door when clients and/or colleagues arrive, for its relative privacy, and proximity to a bathroom. Also, a private entrance into the office could be added from the front porch. Depending on your household size and preferences, we’ve also seen Bedroom 2 converted into a second home office or even a conference room.

Notice also there’s a Pocket Office off the owner’s suite. Most people have strong opinions against working from their owner’s bedroom, feeling that area must be set apart, a respite from work life; therefore, the pocket door is essential, closing off this ideal space with its sizable work surface, storage, and natural light.

Just under half of the homes built in America are built on basement foundations. So, the presence (or absence) of stairs going down to a basement can make a significant difference in a home plan. For the one-story Pelham Gables (plan #42446), no basement stairs can mean a much larger office space.

Kitchen Pantries

Even two-story homes are affected when eliminating basement stairs. In the Bassett Terrace (plan #42241), deleting the staircase going down off the kitchen means you can double the size of the kitchen pantry!

Garage Spaces

It’s even possible to turn garage space into living space. The Windsor Cottage (plan #42226) includes the option of a first-floor bedroom suite rather than the original design’s tandem third-car garage space.

Pre-configured floor plan options, included on the construction drawings and shown accompanying the standard presentation artwork, help you envision some of the popular ways plans can be tailored to your preferences. Please know that Design Basics also offers individualized Plan Customization, providing you the opportunity to have our design team modify the plan you choose so that it lives exactly how you want!

Join us next time for Changing Households and Lifestages.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Flexible Living: Home Office or Guest Room?

Flexible Living: Home Office or Guest Room?

It's both!

One of the reasons for the popularity of Flex Rooms is the ability to tailor areas in your home to how you want your home to live. Equally popular is having rooms that can serve multiple purposes.

The Kingsley (plan #42047 below) provides a flex room off the front entry, the most common location for a home office. Many people will opt to add doors for privacy from both the entry hall and near the stairs. Doing so makes having a space-saving Murphy bed (also known as a wall bed because they fold up against the wall when not in use) an attractive, practical option. With the Murphy bed, this space easily doubles as a main-floor guest bedroom, served by the bathroom just a couple steps away.

Murphy Bed - Closed

Murphy Bed Closed
Photo Courtesy: Closet Factory

Murphy Bed - Open

Murphy Bed Open
Photo Courtesy: Closet Factory

Scrapbooking, jewelry making, even jigsaw puzzles – flex rooms are prized when they can be home to projects-in-progress. The alternative is having to clear everything off the breakfast table. Where in the home can you leave your activities undisturbed? And, what special amenities would make such a room perfect? Do you need specialized storage to organize supplies? Would hard-surface flooring be beneficial, in terms of cleanup? How about a sink for washing out paint brushes or hard-surface flooring for easy cleanup?

The Kenosha (plan #50024 at right) exemplifies flexibility. To the left of the entry, a flex room with Murphy bed. Just off the entry from the garage, a multi-purpose flex space with drop zone and lockers for organization, walk-in closet, pet center, and shower, plus cabinets, counter top work surfaces, and a sink for cleanup. What a great space for pursuing your favorite hobbies and crafts!

Kenosha - #50024 Hobby

In recent years, laundry rooms have become targets for flexibility as well. Like the Kenosha plan, the Harmon Haven (plan #42366) incorporates a hobby/craft room with the laundry area. Or, with plumbing already running to that room, adding a private toilet area is an option, especially if there’s a sink. We’ve even had some folks ask for a planning center/desk in the laundry room, which often shares its workspace with a folding counter.

Importantly, both the Revenna Springs (plan #35079 below left) and the Harmon Haven (plan #42366 below right) have windows for natural light in their laundry/flex areas, making those areas more inviting.

Revenna Springs - #35079 Laundry-Office
Harmon Haven - #42366 Laundry-Hobby

While there are an almost unlimited number of possible uses for flex areas, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out playroom opportunities. Often, in lieu of a two-story high entry, buyers will instead finish that second-floor space and when it’s sandwiched between a couple of secondary bedrooms, kids’ imaginations naturally gravitate towards playing there. Similarly, you may see some home plans that have identified this type of space as a storage area – but think about how much fun your kids would have!

Walnut Trail - #8110 Playroom

Imagine all the fun to be had by finishing off this modest bonus area between Bedrooms 3 and 4 of the Walnut Trail (plan #8110); especially with its magical sloping ceilings, this may be your children’s favorite spot in the home!

Leinart - #29336 Playroom

Toddlers want to be with or near their parents, and parents want to keep tabs on their kiddos. With the kitchen often the activity hub of the home, having a play area off the kitchen (but not the Great Room!) is a wonderful thing, as seen in the Leinart (plan #29336).

Coming next week: Flexible living and floor plan options.Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Cover photo courtesy of the Closet Factory.
(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)
Flex Spaces Save the Day!

Flex Spaces Save the Day!

COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020 ushered in a new appreciation for flexible living spaces in our homes as we adapted to having our entire families at home all day, every day. Suddenly our children were completing school online, and many of us began working from home. There was increased emphasis on home-based activities, such as crafts and hobbies. And amidst the blessings of more togetherness, a newfound recognition of the importance of “me” space.

Flex rooms became school rooms. While homeschoolers may have already figured this out, many households were thrust into the position of deciding the best places for learning and completing assignments. Often, this wasn’t the kids’ bedrooms, particularly when lessons were assigned, but the “teaching” aspect was unfortunately diminished even though textbooks and online instruction was available. When your kids did not understand something, getting answers on a timely basis was challenging – so they needed your attention. Adequate seating and workspace became primary concerns, along with internet and printer access (ruling out that flex room over the garage that just can’t get a good wireless internet signal), and even windows – we all learn better in sunny environments and daylight improves concentration while reducing eyestrain.

The Burlington (plan #43023) is a value-engineered, affordable two-story home that could accommodate such changes. Common default areas for schoolwork include the dining room table and kitchen island. There is also a flex room (Den) off the front entry, which might be able to double up as a learning center. Upstairs, there is a computer loft plus lots of available space over the garage that could be purposed for schoolwork.

At 6’-8’ x 3’-4” the Burlington’s wrapping island snack bar presents abundant workspace. The Den (flex room) up front provides the privacy and natural light conducive to productivity. Upstairs, the 6’-5” wide Computer Loft makes for another convenient study area. 

If working from home became your new normal, you quickly realized the importance of location, organization, privacy, and sunlight. You may have been fortunate enough to already have a den, or even a spare bedroom/guest room that you could office out of. Some companies provided employees with money to purchase necessities such as an ergonomic chair and/or workspace furniture to make the transition to working from home more efficient – their importance cannot be overstated. Privacy needs varied as much as the type of work being done, but being able to close a door (remember, solid-core doors block sound transfer better) as well as proximity to commonly used traffic areas and adjoining media rooms gained heightened importance. Windows provide a connection to the outdoors that our biorhythms depend on. Officing out of a basement or interior space without sunlight can adversely affect mood, irritation, and concentration as well as bring on eyestrain and even headaches.

As days stretched into weeks at home, parents scrambled for new ideas that would occupy and entertain their kids – going decidedly old-school. Increased screen time was pretty much a given, but from play dough, to coloring and innumerable other hobbies and crafts, spaces in the home for such pursuits became treasured.

Photo of Boys with Toy RocketsRocket men! Our tech-savvy kids of all ages began to experience the joys of new, offline activities. But whether it was jigsaw puzzles or model glue and paint drying, or even some board games, where could such indoor undertakings be left, undisturbed, to complete later? The multi-purpose laundry/activity center in the Aden (plan #42037) provides just such an opportunity and is particularly versatile with its island on casters for easy re-positioning!

Aden - #42037 Activity Center

Finally, personal space carved out new meaning as we were introduced to these different realities of family life. While people were designed to live in community, Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., writes of the benefits of seeking solitude in Psychology Today, “Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.” She goes on to say, “You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you've spent some time alone.” 

You might retreat to your bedroom, especially if it is spacious enough to offer a sitting area. Or perhaps you can sneak away to an outside living area.

Where would you go for some alone time? The Carswell (plan #29317) presents a sunny bayed sitting area in the owner’s suite as well as a private rear deck off that bedroom. Or is the sun room more to your liking? Then there is the option of this home’s spacious patio under a cathedral ceiling!

Even with the added demands of responding to the pandemic, everyone needs to have a place they can go to be alone, even if that is just for a few minutes.

Carswell - #29317

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Flexible Living: Tailoring to Your Preferences

Flexible Living: Tailoring to Your Preferences

Flex spaces in a home can be tailored to your personal preferences for how that space will be used. A common example is seeing a home that features a dining room off the front entry, but you don’t want a formal dining space in addition to the casual eating area, so you re-purpose that space as a den. That’s relatively easy, with no changes needed, except that you may add walls and a door for privacy.
Haskell - #42006_4 Bed, Den

Sometimes re-purposing rooms requires subtle floor plan modifications. Opting for a fourth bedroom in lieu of the den in the Haskell (plan #42006) deletes the larger linen closet to provide more private access for Bedroom 4.

​We want your home to work for how you live. That’s why we’ve labeled some rooms as “Flex Space” instead of a bedroom. At times, it can be difficult to envision something other than what is directly shown. But the power of a Flex Space let’s YOU envision how you want to utilize that space. Whether it is a natural space for an additional bedroom, home office, or craft space, you get to choose. Take the Connick Chase (plan #42465) with its 8’-6” closet and adjacent bathroom, the front room makes a natural bedroom. But we chose to label this as a Flex Room because our research told us doing so gave people the freedom to envision that space however they might want, such as a home office. 

Sometimes you will see the term “Bonus Room” on floor plans; often, these are spaces that could be finished off as living space if you desire. An example is Plan #55886, with a possible bonus room just off the entry from the garage, alongside the laundry room. Five steps down from the main floor, this location provides excellent privacy as a den or home office or could be left unfinished as storage.

When you see square footage called out for a bonus room as seen here on plan #55886 (143 sq. ft.), it's because that footage is not calculated in the home as originally designed; and if you were to have that space finished off, you would add that number to come up with “total finished square footage.”

Accessible unfinished space over a garage can make wonderful storage, especially if you are not building on a basement foundation. But finishing rooms over garages, affectionately referred to as “FROGs”, is another classic example of flex space. We’ve seen awesome home theaters, fitness rooms, and even delightful creative studios for writers and artists. But perhaps most common is to turn that flex space into a kids’ play area, especially when there is adequate sunlight!

The space over the garage in the Cedar Glen II (plan #42229V) was enhanced with a pair of VELUX® brand skylights, providing the natural light that makes this space an ideal playroom. Photo courtesy of VELUX.

 

Upstairs lofts are also common flex spaces. Due to their design, some plans’ loft spaces are more closed off and make for natural reading, study, or game spots; while some are open to living areas below. Prized for their flexibility, loft uses are sometimes limited by sound transfer between floors.

The Mariposa (plan #42237) is mostly closed off; thereby, limiting sound transfer from one area to another.

The loft space in the Gretna Mills (plan #42250) is open to sound from the entertaining area and vice versa, noise from the loft potentially interrupting conversation downstairs.

Some loft spaces can be reconfigured, as the Gretna Mills shows the option of a third bedroom in lieu of the loft space.

Fiala - #42281 Signature SpaceBecause flex spaces are critical to how you want to live in your home, some Design Basics’ home plans show a Signature Space® – literally, a small space that you can put your signature on! Among the more common uses are Pocket Offices, extra bathrooms, Pet Centers, and specialized storage such as a super-pantry. We’ve also seen these turned into safe rooms, wine rooms, and even a home elevator. The Signature Space’s location may further suggest possible uses. The Fiala (plan #42281) has a Signature Space just off the patio doors leading to the covered porch. Some homeowners, particularly households with pets and small children, prize such a space for coats, boots, pet sundries, etc., because of all the traffic to and from the back yard.

Ideal for corralling boots, coats, and gloves after building a snowman, a Signature Space near your backyard access is a handy space. Or do you have dogs? What a perfect spot for the Pet Center complete with shower for washing off those muddy paws!

Finally, some people prefer to convert outdoor living spaces into flex spaces. For example, the Palmer (plan #42057) has a covered porch that the buyer wanted to turn into an inspiration room. Windows lined two walls for connection with nature, a wall fountain added the sounds of gently falling waters, twin fireplace tubes anchored each end of the built-in bookcase, and there was a traditional work area as well as another, more comfortable chair plus table for storage and work surface.
Coming next week: Flexible spaces that serve multiple purposes.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Cover photo courtesy of VELUX.

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