Have you ever encountered quirks in your home? Have you ever been stumped wondering where to put a television, how to dress your windows, or have you ever fought a nagging traffic flow?

In a well-designed house, these matters are addressed on paper before any permits are acquired and any foundations poured. When I can draw initial floor plans and furniture layouts, I can also call out electrical outlets and overhead lighting. I can ensure there is a glare-proof wall large enough for a flat screen or sizable artwork. I can specify windows knowing what type of treatments the client will use. And, I can space windows so they don’t interfere with nightstands and lamps.

In reality, many homes are built without such detailed forethought. If you’re planning to build new or remodel, here are a few scenarios to avoid: I encountered this first one just last week when carpeting a bedroom. Most carpets are 12 feet wide. However, this bedroom was 12 feet 1 inch wide. In larger rooms, a carpet is seamed in a low-traffic, unnoticeable place. But in this case, we’ll have a skinny strip of carpet without the benefit of a larger room. So, if you plan to use carpet, choose it before deciding on the room’s dimensions.

I often run into this next scenario: Instead of a door separating a master bedroom from its attached master bathroom, there is just an opening. This is not necessarily a bad idea as long as the builder sets it off to the side or at least considers what the homeowners will be viewing as they look into the bathroom.

A recent client was constantly annoyed that her opening was directly opposite her bed. (Given her windows and walk-in closet, there was only one place to put her bed – another point the builder should have considered.) Thank goodness the water closet was in a different room, but the homeowner was still not pleased that her view faced an unattractive shower. She particularly objected to the glass and chrome enclosure. The vanity was hidden on the wall perpendicular to the shower.

Since there were plumbing sources on both walls, as well as sufficient space, if the builder had swapped the vanity and shower, the homeowner could have decorated the vanity area with paint, a pretty mirror and light fixture, and topped off the whole vignette with an orchid. A sight she would have enjoyed viewing from her bed.

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There was yet another problem on another wall. An 11-inch niche had been created between the entrance opening and the water closet. It was an almost-perfect space to put a tall storage cabinet. “Almost” because virtually all such cabinets are 12 inches deep. Surely, had the rather large opening been made just 1 inch narrower, we would have had a vast selection of cabinets at our disposal.

Lastly, when I discovered that there was only one electrical outlet in this medium-sized bathroom, I asked myself, again, “What were the builders thinking?”

Before you begin any project, think of how you’ll use the space. Plan, plan, plan, and then design accordingly.

Patti L. Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com; call 707-322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.

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