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Bathroom Design Basics (Everyone Should Know)…

I get asked a lot what the pitfalls of bathroom design are for designer’s who are just starting out in the business and I would have to say that bathrooms and kitchens are by far the hardest if they have never experienced renovating their own or a friend’s first!

Kitchen’s are a whole other ballpark and come with many, many opportunities for mistakes for the unwitting, fresh designer, so I thought I would start with bathrooms as we could fit this into one blog post!

There are a few key areas that are really important with bathroom design and refurbishment that are really important to highlight to a novice who has never undertaken a project like this before. Often, an interior designer will eventually get asked to design a bathroom for a client and they will say yes, then think “its just about choosing tiles and a suite, right?”


Finishes

  • Walls – This is possibly the trickiest thing to consider when undertaking a bathroom renovation or design as the first thing to consider is how much space you have for finishes! If the architraves are staying (as they will most likely do in a low cost or budget renovation), then you will need to measure how deep they are so that you can design around the doors and windows.
  • Floors – Next, unless you want a “lovely” toe scratching metal bar or even worse, a toe breaking step up into the bathroom, you will need to understand what the juxtaposing floor finish is going to be (or is) and how deep that is too. Whilst you’re at it, if your client hasn’t got a big budget to ask the carpenter to cut the door to fit your 30mm stone flooring, then you might want to measure how much gap you have under the door too, just to make sure you know how much space you have to play with.
  • Ceiling – If you can’t measure the void within the ceiling or can’t photograph it, then think about whether the property is a flat and what floor it is on. You may need to consider fire-hoods / casing and some LED lighting will have large heat diffusing backs and or may require transformers in an accessible place, close to the lights themselves. Don’t forget that bathroom lighting in Zones 1 and 2 needs to be IP44 rated minimum (Zone one is the area in the bath, shower or around the sink and Zone 2 is the area around those areas up to about 60cm – which is more of a splash zone).

Just as a rule of thumb, I would look at the thickness of what I am proposing (the depth of the tile or stone) and then know that I will probably need around the same amount of space behind the tile to fix it in place. Usually, a 3mm tile can get away with a much thinner bed, but a 20mm piece of stone will need at least 10mm bed with at least a cementitious board that can carry the weight of the stone.

Don’t forget that not all wall tiles can be used on the floor either. Ceramic tiles which are usually cheaper will usually be only for the walls as they are much softer than porcelain tiles or stone, so always check before making your final decision on your finishes.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash


Drainage

I used to get teased in offices I worked in because I actually am a total geek with drainage and love working it out. I used to get a lot of the s**t jobs passed to me as I genuinely enjoyed them! I love drainage! I even considered changing careers at one point to re-train as a plumber (then I realized I have a very sensitive nose…)

Drainage is one of those things that if you don’t know what you are doing, then leave it alone and don’t mess with it. The cheapest thing with a bathroom is to leave the pieces where they are and replace them like for like. Even something as simple as changing a bath to a shower can cause problems, as a shower trap will need to fit in the floor and that isn’t always possible on a refurbishment. That is why you see those poor showers that need stepping up in to (oh the humanity!)

The key with bathrooms, however, is looking at where the riser is. You’ll spot it easily in an older building as it will probably be boxed out, but in a new building, it will most likely be concealed slightly better (you’d hope). The toilet is usually positioned pretty close to it, so that is your first give away. Moving a toilet or shower around the riser is usually not too much of a problem because the proximity to the connection is the key.

As a rule of thumb, a shower waste will be around 50mm and a toilet waste pipe will be around 110mm in diameter and they require a fall to the riser of 1:60 (that’s 1 meter in height for every 60m in length – or about 2cm drop per meter. That doesn’t sound like much, but considering the floor depth is usually around 250mm, then you start to encroach on the ceiling below if moving it more than a couple of meters.

Although that still doesn’t mean you can move them because it also depends on what the floor or ceiling structure is made from. If you are dealing with a timber floor and the joists are running in the right direction, (check the engineer’s or architects drawings) you can get lucky and you can run the pipes within the floor, but if your joists are running in the wrong direction and you don’t have a ceiling void below, you will have to alter your layout (or opt for a syphoned toilet…)


Sanitary Fittings

Ah, the joy! Just when you find the perfect shower in the right finish, you can’t match the mixer, or just when you find the perfect set for everything it doesn’t have WRAS approval. This can be a minefield and unless working on super low-cost projects are often best dealt with a contact or supplier from a specific company. There are so many parts and mechanisms that go along with and need to be ordered to fit a shower or tap that it is best to work alongside someone who knows their stock.

This is the kind of thing you don’t really want to leave to your plumber. Low-cost projects usually do and that is where you start to get mismatched items or showers not working well. If you know it, you will also need to know the pressure you currently have and the type of system in your property. A gravity led system has much less pressure than mains pressure and you may need to also install pressure reducing valves (for the designer that means fitting more things in behind the already full walls or hiding more stuff or trying to box it in).

What I’m trying to say is that choosing a shower head and matching mixer is not as simple as matching the style to the mixer on the basin. There are a lot of things that are needed to be considered alongside the items themselves to make sure they work correctly once installed. Add to this water reducing filters and water saving devices you have to really know what items will work to give you the desired end result.

Before choosing sanitary items and before speaking to the manufacturer (you always should before ordering to make sure you are specifying the right parts) make sure you have to hand the following things:

  1. The type of boiler and hot water installation (ie mains or gravity pressure).
  2. Water saving or regulatory requirements (usually only for new builds or historic projects) or any unique property specific requirements.
  3. The depth of the walls, floors and ceilings and construction type for installation and fixing – sometimes noggins or ply need to be inserted into the wall to fix the mixers, towel rails etc.)
  4. Depth and profile of the finishes (Eg. a highly profiled tile can look terrible with a flat plate for a mixer stuck on it, no matter how aligned it is!)
  5. Which direction the floor and ceiling joists run (if timber construction) and where the wall studs are.

And just one final note, don’t expect to be able to use an external wall depth to add to the room you have. External walls should not be messed with, especially in new construction where any penetration could affect the airtightness or vapour control of the building. As a general rule, if you want to hide some piping in an external wall, you will need to build a new wall or boxing in front of it so that you don’t damage the external envelope of the building which could cause damp or allow vermin into the walls. Refurbishments are where most of the big mistakes happen because the initial build is tightly controlled but small or minor works in between aren’t usually monitored and often done by uneducated homeowners, on the cheap or in a DIY way.

Buildings are getting more complicated and there are more things that can be damaged than just a bit of mould getting through a wall. Partitions, floors and ceilings all act as fire compartmentalization so some alterations, if not completed by a competent person who knows the local laws may be unknowingly creating a dangerous situation.

If you enjoyed reading this blog post pretty please would you vote for it as I have been nominated for an award HERE.

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How To Draw A Golden Rectangle (For interior designers and architects)

In my last blog post, we went through what the golden ratio (or as I’m using here Golden rectangle) is and why it is important to a designer. This week, I will show you how to draw one for yourself.

Firstly, you will need a few bits and pieces for drawing (or drafting):

  • Set square
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Drafting pen
  • Paper (& tracing paper if you prefer)
Step 1

The first step is to draw a square. It is really important to get the square to be perfectly square or else you will have problems later. If you don’t know how to do that, just try to measure from each edge of your page (assuming you are using a fresh, straight piece of paper!)

One thing I like to do is to extend the lines farther out so that I can use them as guidelines for the rest of the exercise, (see all of my working out liens underneath my tracing paper?)

STEP 1

Step 2

Once you have your square drawn, measure and mark the centre of the bottom line of the square. This gives you the point at which you will draw your arc from.

STEP 2

Step 3

Adjust your compass so that it meets the top right edge of your square from the centre-point line that we measured in step 2. Now draw an arc all the way down past 90 degrees so that you definitely cross the horizontal lines.

STEP 3

Step 4

Now you can see the relationship between your rectangle and square. Pretty right? So now all we do is draw the lines to extend your square into a rectangle using the extension we just worked out and voila!

STEP 4

Step 5

Here it is, your perfectly proportioned rectangle that is in harmony with nature and all things beautiful. I like to draw it on tracing paper so that it is more usable, although I also work heavily with Photoshop these days, so I just have a copy saved as a layer so that I can use it as a guide when I am designing.

STEP 5

Now you can create beautiful interiors, architecture, presentations, spaces, websites, logos and graphics that are in perfect harmony!

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You Don’t Need Talent To Be An Interior Designer

The idea of natural talent has resurfaced often throughout my career and I think it is an interesting topic. I was having a chat this week with an amazing woman who wanted to know more about my interior designer’s business school (my mentorship program that is starting at the end of February). She was actually already successful in another industry and in my opinion naturally talented, driven, hardworking and really pleasant and personable.

She astounded me when she asked “what if no-one likes my designs or what if I’m just not talented or I don’t have any talent? “

More often than not, I find that really talented individuals are actually afraid that they aren’t very good at design. Ironically, they are usually the ones that are naturally talented but lack the self-esteem or confidence. For those people who don’t know they are naturally talented, a great teacher will help reveal those qualities in you and help you nurture and balance the right skills that will help you succeed.

Yes there are many, many people with natural talent (I would say one of my best friends Matthew Anderson who I studied architecture with in Brisbane Australia – he is totally just a natural – find him at arkitekturkollektivet ) I used to just be in awe of him and I wondered how does he do it?

The truth is, when it comes to design, it IS something that can be learned. I wouldn’t say that I was a natural (no modesty here), but I definitely was creative, passionate and dared to try new things. I worked hard to get good grades at uni or beautiful results for my clients, but so do the naturally talented ones.

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Design is a process, cutting corners doesn’t work. It can be sped up with experience, but that’s it (in my opinion). Talent helps you to see things in a particular way, but you can learn to see things in that way even if you aren’t naturally talented.

The thing is, that natural talent gives you an edge to design in a way that being confident about your style gives you the look of having natural talent.

So as long as you really truly believe in what it is you are doing and find a way to express it so that others understand it, you will start to grow your tribe of followers. The thing with talent is that you can find your own and the thing with design is, that it CAN be learned, yes there are design rules and in my opinion you need to know the rules before you can break them intelligently, but once you grasp those rules, creativity gives you equally as many (if not more possibilities) and answers to solve a problem than natural talent does. So either way, there is a way to success, you just have to find your path.

The Skills You Need To Be A Freelance Interior Designer

A couple of years ago I was invited to a local school to talk to students about their careers. I was astounded at the reasons why people wanted to go into a certain career and I couldn’t believe the misconceptions and preconceptions some had about what skills were required and the ways to qualification for interior designers, building technicians and architecture students.

For clarity, here in the UK you do not need a formal education in interior design to become an interior designer.  There are many skills that are required and lots of experience, but these are not things that should hold you back from pursuing a career if it is something that you want to do.  My advice is to find the right teacher and start getting as much experience as possible.

Across my career, I have mentored and taught interior design, architecture and construction detailing to colleagues, workmates, students and assistants.  In my opinion, the only other important thing required other than a great teacher and experience are the following personality traits:

Problem Solving Skills & Creativity

These are probably the most important skills because they not only relate to every project (there is always a point on a project where you need to be creative and sort out a way to provide a solution to a problem), but creative expression has to be a passion for you, or else it will exhaust you.

Good Design Knowledge & Intelligent Flexibility

Knowing when to give up on an idea but still being able to make something intrinsic to a design work, is a key skill to anyone in a creative field.

Your initial ideas need to withstand physical alterations or value engineering by a builder or client. This is where I see many a designer turn to blaming others for the failure of a “great idea”.

You need to be able to see the opportunity to better your design when something gets in the way, not just give up and blame someone because they inhibited your project from succeeding. Being flexible but also having the skill base to support your decision is really important to success as a freelance interior designer.

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Excellent Communicator & A People Person

This relates to anyone running a business but is even more important in a service based industry where you are translating peoples desires into reality. Your clients will be revealing many of their lifestyle choices to you and you need to be mature and intelligent enough to deal with all situations that arise either with your clients, suppliers and other consultants including builders.

Communicating ideas and speaking clearly about your project are absolutely critical to your success as a freelance interior designer.

Organization and Management Skills

You are your own boss, so it makes sense that you need to run your own business. You will need to organize your invoices, client communication, taxes, furniture and fitting suppliers, builders etc. You will be in contact with lots of people on a daily basis on any one project, so it will be important that your digital and hard filing are completely in order.

Losing information or misplacing things is simply not an option.

Tenacity and Motivation

There is a reason why some interior designers become successful and others don’t and I do believe it has more to do with tenacity and motivation than any other skill. You don’t have to be the best to be the best. You just have to put your hand up and be ready to take an opportunity when it is presented to you and don’t give up when things get hard and don’t be afraid to take on a project that seems a bit of a push. Get help if you need it, don’t give up.

Want to know what it is like to be an interior designer?  You might like my blog post called My Life As An Online Interior Designer

How To Get Your First Client

How to get your first client and specifically How To Get Your First Interior Design Client – Without a portfolio of work and without a long list of contacts.

When I started my business as an online architectural and interior designer, I had been living in the UK for about 10 years. Anyone who moves away from home, even to another city, knows that meeting new people and creating a network isn’t quite so easy.  I had no idea where to start to get my first client.

By my age, people have families and they don’t go out as often as they used to, their sports have taken a back seat and their priority are their children. Most of the women I know who are architects or designers get most of their work at the “school gate”. Its like an abundant place where friendly people speak to you knowing who you are and seem to trust you straight away.

But what if you don’t have kids, family, friends and a great network of supportive, like-minded people who are willing to help you out?  How do you get your first client?

Getting clients doesn’t have to be hard. I slowed my progress to having a successful business because I didn’t do these things to get clients and once I did… they started rolling in (literally).

Tell Them All About It

You can’t be the world’s best-kept secret. You have to talk to literally everyone you know about what you are doing – repeatedly. You have to keep reminding people that you are around and that this is what you do now. It may take some time, but someone you ultimately know or know through someone else will think of you when someone needs you as a designer.

Word of mouth (or even word of social media) is so strong, but you have to remind people ALL THE TIME. No room for being shy or thinking “oh they know”. I didn’t get any clients for years… yes I was trying to start a business for years… and I didn’t tell anyone… because I thought they all knew…

As soon as I announced that I as finally working full time for myself, I got 4 referrals straight away. All of which ended up being my clients.  Job done and I got my first client.

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Share Your Knowledge

I used to believe that without a gorgeous portfolio of projects to show your clients there was no hope of ever getting a client. To me it was like this chicken and egg scenario, but I need a client first before I can get some photos of my work!

I know that isn’t true now… at all. If you check my website, I still don’t have a vast portfolio and I have worked with well over 30 clients this year! (My projects are only just now coming to completion and we will be photographing them soon, so stay tuned), but this isn’t an excuse either.

The way I started to get respect for my expertise is by giving by knowledge freely. I helped people out on any forum I could find. Interior design and architecture historically are not those kinds of professions where people share their knowledge too freely, so getting real help (for free) was my way of getting some street cred.

Speak To Someone New Every Day

This was the hardest for me. When I was low and all poor me about my work and life situation, the last thing I wanted to do was to speak to anyone about my loser life. But I put in my diary that I had to speak to someone new every day. Whether it’s the post man, tell him what you do. If it’s the local shop, put a flyer up and speak to them and tell them what you do. You this on social media too, but don’t just type, set up a meeting or a call, because you cant click with a person as well (in my opinion) with just typing, especially if you feel a bit weird at the beginning just trying to meet people.

Oh and this is a bonus one…

Leave Your Dignity At The Door

Oh man, yyou can’t imagine how many bruised ego’s I had. Again, it took me a super, duper, really long, long time to get that you have to toughen up and be confident about what your skills are and what you can do. People will say no.. that’s ok and sometimes that’s actually a blessing!

Don’t get upset if people ignore you, (because they will), don’t worry if people think you are a freako (because they will), if you are passionate about what you do, even those people who were non believers will come back, so never give up, keep going and every time someone knocks you down, you can find ingenuitive ways to keep getting back up (with some or no class.. your choice).

And if you want to know what its like to be an online freelance designer, you can read my blog post here

Why You Need A Boot Room

I’m not sure when my obsession with boot rooms started, although it was probably around the same time as when the Plain English kitchens started to get advertised in Elle Decor, House Beautiful and The World Of Interiors!

Not only are these English inventions pretty cool, they are also super practical. Although I only ever saw these make an appearance win mansion houses or country houses, there is no reason why you can’t take this idea and use it in your home too.

Practical reasons (pro arguments) for getting one of these installed or made at either the front or back door to your home.

1. A separate boot room can reduce condensation in your home!

Not sure why, but here in the UK houses don’t get built with “airlocks” or foyers. This for me is an obvious reason for condensation and mould growth in many an English home. Understandably space is an issue over here, but the health benefits in my opinion outlay the need for more and more “space”. What is the point of space if it isn’t practical anyway?

2. Leaving Your shoes at the door is Hygienic.

I’m pretty sure I have written about this before. The ground outside is dirrrrty! People spitting, animals pooing, chemicals from cars and trucks remain on the streets and we step on these with our shoes. You may disagree, but it makes sense to me to take these off when getting home (preferably before trumping through the house in them) and change into something cleaner. Imagine if you have a baby crawling around…

3. A boot room can help keep your household organised.

It isn’t so much in Australia in terms of hanging jackets, scarves, gloves and hats but it can be a very useful place anywhere in the world that helps you organise your shoes in one place (ok depending on size) as well as helps items such as dog leads, umbrellas and gum boots have a permanent place!  Also, many everyday families with children or those that have pets or avid couples who cycle or are very sporty need a place to leave their equipment or sports gear so it is easy to find.  A boot room appropriately situated, could help keep everyone on time and always with their kit.

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4. Possibly adds privacy when working from home.

This may not apply to everyone, but many more couples have started working from home together and sometimes a boot room can be used as a separate one between public and private spaces. For example, one person may receive a lot of deliveries whilst another is teaching a meditation class in another room. This adds an extra layer between in inside, more private areas of the house.

5. It Can save you energy!

This is a spin-off to the airlock in number 1. If you have a staircase opposite your front door (like many traditional English homes) and the air just flows up like a draughty tunnel and escapes into the roof, putting an airlock (aka boot room) can help keep the rest of your home toasty and warm in winter and save you money on your heating bills. I know that some Scandinavians put up a curtain behind their front door – this has the same effect. This also works the other way round, many people in warmer countries air-condition their homes, so a boot room could save you money and energy on cooling…

So you know what I’m working on now.. yep my own one of these.. stay tuned to see the result!

The beautiful, warm, practical and inviting boot room in my blog image today is what inspired me to create my own boot room about a year ago! I’m obsessed with the joinery from this company and love just perving their website…  You can find that image and their work at http://www.thomasfordandsons.com/

Why your White Walls & Furniture Don’t Look White At Home

If you have decorated a room recently or bought a piece of furniture for its colour, you may have been gravy disappointed when in the evenings you get home and it doesn’t look like the same colour it did when you either first saw it or it may look different to how it does in the daylight.

One of my favourite subjects is lighting and recently I found a new product that has excited me enough to actually write a blog post about it!

If you have been replacing your lights with LEDs recently and noted how dull your whites are in the evenings (or a completely different colour altogether), the reason why is because LED’s cannot render white.

A new LED on the market that was used to refurbish the Oxford Ashmolean has been developed to render white and can show the true colour (or daylight colour) of your fabrics and wall paints. The product is called Soraa and I have actually seen for myself how a lower “lumen” output actually creates a much brighter light bulb when directly compared to another market leading LED bulb manufacturer (it was a Phillips).

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As a designer, I really consider whether the end result is a success or not and the light used to illuminate the life within my client’s homes plays a big part in whether they are happy with what they see when they walk through the door.

If you are trying to hide non-matching whites, this isn’t for you, but if you are trying to see the brilliant and most true colour of an artwork, painting, fabric or anything else, then this is currently the only way with an LED bulb.

If you are interested in DIY or just love creating a beautiful home (or have a total nerd interest in lighting like myself) I wrote a blog post about lighting a while back which you can read again here:

To Style Or Not To Style – Interior Styling

Styling is definitely not something I learned in architecture school! For many an architect or designer, it would have been seen as a failure if you had to add a vase or mirror to the space to make it feel the way you wanted it to feel. The ultimate goal would have been to make the property feel right with my architectural language – structure, solid / void, light, shadow, material, texture, abstraction… rather than populating it with “stuff”.

Although the dictionary meaning suggests that styling is just arranging things in a particular way, I like to describe it as setting the mood for a space.

The reality is that styling is a very useful tool that helps us imagine how to use a room. I remember my brother saying to me that he wishes he was as creative as I was. I never really understood that he wasn’t creative and still don’t believe that he isn’t, I just think sometimes his imagination isn’t easily triggered. I use styling to help trigger that imagination in a space by using architectural language and styling to create a story or mood that inspires someone’s imagination to enjoy a space.

The main ways I use styling in my life and business are:

  • To help developers and builders sell newly built homes when they are empty.
  • I help buyers of newly built homes create their requested mood in their homes once the empty house is bought.
  • For real-estate agents and landlords, I style a space so that potential renters or home buyers imagine how to use a space.
  • For my clients, I style a 3D or sketch to help them feel how they can use a space I am creating for them.
  • At home for my husband, guests or just for myself, I style my rooms to make the space feel the way I want it to feel either for a party or just for us to accentuate how lovely the morning, space or evening is.

In one of the architectural offices I worked in, interior designers were looked down on and they were seen as “pillow puffers”. At the time I was working on high rise, new build apartments and the work was particularly technical, in that the common thought about the spaces was just units, figures, numbers, areas, not what I saw – spaces for living a life in.

In their minds the planning department and the developer decided how many windows there had to be in a room, it wasn’t guided by how the space was used.

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It shocked me that there was so little love for the thousands of homes being built for happy new homeowners trying to create a life and saving for what was most probably their first home. I have struggled to decorate some newly built properties as there often is no soul or connection from the structure to the interior. Even in architecture school, I was taught to explore the relationship between the inside and outside or even Mies Van der Rohe’s basics of “form follows function”… but I love what I do and I realise creating homes, houses, properties, buildings is my dream.

So styling can help you when the other architectural elements aren’t working or it can help you adjust a mood in a space.  You can use styling to enhance particular features of a room or to help someone’s see what you can see in a space.  Sometimes you can use styling as a picture frame – to frame an idea, to tell a story or to show off a piece of art.

More and more often I see builders or developers altering properties or arranging spaces or positioning windows and doors without a care for the person’s life in it. With such a disconnect between the end user and the “designer” no wonder styling has become more and more a part of my work. I have to try really hard sometimes to make a space feel like a home, imagine someone like my brother who hasn’t trained that imagination muscle? Soon you’ll need more than two degrees just to furnish a home to function in the right way – or you could just start styling.

How To Solve A Zoning Issue At Home

Zoning issues arise from the way we use our homes. It could be that you bought a home that was in the right area but the house itself never really worked for your family. It can happen if your family grows and changes and your home cannot be altered to deal with those changes (I.e. you rent the property and can’t add or remove walls or extend).

Being limited by the layout of a home that doesn’t work for your family is where zoning issues really arise. One home could be a perfect fit for the lifestyle of one family but may be totally wrong for another family. It is also interesting in the way that more often than not, I see the families blaming lack of storage or the size of the house as the main issue.

The reality is that your lifestyle can be altered for better or worse by the layout of your house. Take a person who struggles to go upstairs and give him or her a large open plan, ground floor without many obstructions where they can easily go into each space. Now put that same person in a 5 story, narrow, terrace house with a limited or largely terraced garden and the same person becomes hugely limited in how much of the home he or she can experience freely, mixing up private and public zones by way of necessity.

Another example is if you work from home and have people in and out all day, but are limited by those people having to enter the house a particular way whilst also not being able to alter the property due to it being rented or shared with others. Arguments arise over items left in areas that are visible to guests (public zone) and tidiness becomes a much bigger issue.

The Victorians were masters at public/private zoning. They had sculleries, hidden hallways, secondary stairs, all for back of house duties that could be hidden from daily view. When we design hotels and commercial or stadium buildings, we also create back of house areas hidden from public view where other duties can be performed without the disruption of other tasks.

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Our desire for open plan living is influenced by the modernist movement, but those original layouts and homes were exceptionally well thought out and when analysed, still had very specific and clear public and private zones or separation by way of screens or circulation.

So how do you live happily in a zone-less house or a house where your public and private zones are all muddled up? It is more a creative and design process that is required, but if you want to give it a go on your own, here is a place to start:

  1. Think about the most important daily functions required of each space. For example, a living room may also be an entry hall, study space for children as well as a relaxation space in the evenings for parents as well as where guests are invited.
  2. Work out which functions aren’t working the best or which cause the most arguments. If we use the same space above work out if it’s the lack of a functional entry hall which is causing lots of items to be left in the living room or whether the location of a TV and the only comfortable chair for relaxing are in the same room and yet one person needs quiet and another likes to watch TV really loud.
  3. Once you identify some functions, habits and possibly practical issues about how you are using the space, think about how to relocate some of those functions to other areas (such as a quiet, comfortable reading space).
  4. The next step is to think about the practical requirements of each space. An entry hall is very important in a home and yet, at least here in England many homes are too small for an entrance hall or the walls have been removed to create an open plan living space, removing the separation between those zones. Try some creative storage ideas or separate with a screen or piece of furniture that can act as a “dumping” ground for when entering the house.
  5. Finally look again at the main problem space and try to filter out the final issues. Can you rearrange the furniture to create some privacy or perhaps make the space more social. Could you child’s desk also double as a lovely shelving unit for other display or personal items?

Give it a go. You might have to try the process a few times, but don’t give up, as your quality of life will change, you just have to have a good look at how you are using the space!

Here is a fun exercise for you:

Identify an item in your home that doesn’t have a specific place to be or live, it could be a hat, blanket, anything that you use but hasn’t got a real home. Watch it over 2 weeks to see where it moves to.  How much energy did it take to find it and how much energy did it take to think about where it was if it was in a different location each time?

 

Zoning and why you need it in your home

It is strange, I have had a few clients recently with the same home/usage /functionality challenges, which makes living life in their current home feel either temporary or just makes them use a lot of energy to live.

The problem is public and private zoning within the home. It is something I remember learning at uni and I really loved the idea of diagramming a home to understand how it functions. By searching out the facts of where people spend time to undertake certain tasks, you can figure out how efficiently spaces are being used… or you could equally just ask the person living in the home and they will tell you…

However, it’s not until most people get a chance to stop and really focus or analyze the way they are living in a space that helps them see it isn’t really working or it is prohibiting them from living in the way they want to be living.

For example, how many people do you know that don’t invite visitors around because there isn’t a place for everyone to sit or they never have events at their house because it doesn’t function well with more than just them in the house?

The amount of effort that goes into hiding or moving personal items that haven’t got a place to live is so wasteful.

So what are zones in the home and why do we need them? There are in my mind an unlimited number of zones we could have in a home! But to make this actually useful for my wonderful readers I will narrow these down to two very important ones that will make a difference in your home life: public and private zoning

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Zones set up a set of boundaries that allow you to undertake a certain amount of activities. They are loose boundaries but they are there to give you peace of mind that if a visitor comes into your home you don’t have to run and hide the book you were just reading, or take down the notes you pinned up on the wall as reminders. Your public zone should pretty much be ready to receive visitors at any time (in a relaxed and ‘you’ kind of way) and your private zones in your home are just that, private, so you don’t have to stress when you have visitors that someone will question your religious or spiritual beliefs or see a bra hanging on the door handle.

What happens when you don’t have zones for public /private? To help you realize that you may be living this way, here are a couple of things that might be going on for you if you haven’t got some real zoning going on:

  1. Visitors see your daily stuff, even if you don’t want them to.
  2. You don’t have a place to relax because other activities or other family members are using the space for another activity that is contrary to the one you want to do at the same time (reading quietly or watching a really distracting TV show).
  3. Members of the house end up on top of each other and don’t have privacy.
  4. You end up avoiding having guests over because you feel embarrassed about your home.
  5. You waste energy clearing up, moving things around or changing things around for another activity to take place.

What is the solution? You’ll have to wait for next week’s blog to find out!