Family-friendly Functional and Adaptable Floor Plan

Patricia Skinner, Reichel, Claudette Hanks  |  1/11/2007 7:01:23 AM

A family-friendly, functional and adaptable floor plan will give you and your family room to breathe, room to work, room to play and the potential expand. These are some things to consider when designing a home for convenience.

Adaptable spaces reduce waste and can save time and trouble. A floor plan with enclosed, single-purpose rooms is far less adaptable to changing household needs, sizes and functions than open-space plans. Consider multipurpose spaces, such as bookcases in a slightly widened hallway and a large, rectangular bedroom design (instead of two rooms) that can be partitioned for two children to have semiprivate spaces or kept whole for an aging parent’s room or a recreation room.

Phased Design: Consider designing a phased home plan with preplanned additions or unfinished spaces so you don’t have to scrimp on quality and sustainability to get the size and space you will need later.

Storage: Planned storage in each room reduces clutter and makes rooms seem larger. Evaluate both current and future needs (toys, games, seasonal decorations, bedding, records and files, electronics, etc.). Include adjustable shelving.

Include counter and cabinet space at the family entrance for recharging electronics, mail, shoes, coats, sports gear, backpacks, purses, etc. Include outdoor storage and security plans for outdoor items during a storm and for security. An unvented cathedralized type of attic (insulation under the sealed roof) can provide ample storage space in a clean, climate-controlled space.

Privacy: The front door should be more convenient to visitors than the service entry. Provide front door view control so visitors are visible to residents but the family area is not on display. Consider sound privacy in space arrangements. Try to arrange closets as sound buffers, or add sound-reduction insulation between quiet and noisy rooms.

Workflow and traffic paths: Live an imaginary day in your floor plan, from morning through night activities and include all household members. Will traffic paths interfere with activities or furniture? Is it more convenient for you to tend laundry near the bedrooms or the kitchen? What are the best places to do homework, pay bills, use a computer, watch TV, etc.? Consider both the present and the future.

In a two-story home, have at least one bedroom and the master bedroom on the same level. This makes the home more adaptable to changing needs and creates less of a burden when caregiving is needed (for a young child, aging parent, injured family member, etc.).

Kitchen Plan: For many of today’s families, the kitchen is the hub of the home -- a work area, social area and primary space of family interaction. Open planning enables a kitchen to fulfill all those roles, but it requires careful design to include sufficient storage, work areas and clearances for functional purposes. See Kitchen Design and Space Guidelines for more on developing a convenient kitchen plan.

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