Home Design & Renovation with Children in Mind
Your home can be designed to facilitate whatever type of lifestyle you prefer. Within this website, we will discuss the various different scenarios that your house design can be focused on, and some interesting and creative ways to customize your home accordingly.
This webpage is devoted to designing your home with Children as the primary focus.
There might be individuals that would think that the design of a home for children is a design that would become outdated due to the fact that hopefully, children will eventually leave the nest. Although this is a very optimistic viewpoint, I have been involved with numerous homes that, if they had been designed with more focus on the children, they would better serve the homeowner as the family grows. The late night comics continually make fun of the children that will eventually leave and then return to the nest, however, this is occurring more than we want to admit. In addition, the outreach of parents to their children regarding grandchild care and fostering, has made the original homes that were designed for family life and specifically designed for children, much more practical and useful as the family matures.
What are the principal requirements of a home that is designed with the Children as the primary focus?
- Space / The essence of space, openness and usability will always be the focus of a home that is designed for children. The ability to congregate around the television with Mom in the kitchen keeping an eye out on the children is a common accommodation for any home that is designed to accommodate children. This openness and the ability to interact from the kitchen to the family room, great room or open living spaces, is a common design consideration that will positively serve the home, whether there are children living in it, or not. The more open the spaces for family congregation and communication, the better. There should be minimal space for unsupervised activities. This will allow the parents to perform activities, other than simply watching the children. Both parents can cook, pay the bills, and clean the home, etc., while the children play within visual supervision of the parents. Children require space to play and grow, the openness of the interior floorplan is extremely important to the success of your home.
- Visual ability / I can remember the first home I designed and eventually built. My wife was busy with three small children and the only accommodation that she requested was the ability to watch the children in the backyard from her kitchen. Although at the time, this request didn’t appear specific to a home designed specifically for children, it is a valid consideration and certainly does fit that accommodation. Especially if the home has a pool or play-scape that could be dangerous, if the children were left unsupervised. The placement of the kitchen as well as the openness of the areas facing out to the backyard, will allow visual supervision of activities outside of the home by anyone in the home, albeit from afar. Window placement in this scenario is important to reduce any blind areas that do not have openness to the exterior.
- Mudroom location / The placement of the mudroom is important, for the sanity of anyone trying to keep the home relatively clean and orderly. A well designed and managed mudroom, will allow the entry from the yard to be controlled. There are several excellent mudroom layouts and design ideas that can be researched and evaluated for your specific needs. However, the ability to hang jackets, store gloves and hats, and especially leave dirty shoes and boots in the mudroom, will eliminate the constant tracking of mud into the home. My dream mudroom, is a room that has a concrete floor with a drain installed in the middle of this floor. In this design, a hose can be used to wash the dirt and debris brought into the mudroom by your children, down the drain. What a wonderful method of keeping the house clean. To take it a step further, if the water hose was tied into a temperature control valve, such as installed in your shower, the kids could be given a warm wash-down, prior to entering the home.
- Bathroom facilities / The placement of a bathroom, with immediate access to the outside, is an excellent design element for a home designed for children. The ability to use the bathroom, without the need to enter the clean and orderly interior of the home, will allow the elimination of mud and dirt in the home. It is my recommendation that this bathroom access be through the mudroom to make the entry into the home, even more convenient. The basic idea of this thought is to have a bathroom accessible, prior to entering the clean home.
- Exterior shower, or easy access to an interior shower / Although this accommodation may not appear to be overly important, the ability to shower, prior to entering the home is a wonderful consideration for children as well as gardening adults. Dependent upon the climate, the provision of an outdoor shower with the possibility of solar hot water should be considered. Of course this suggestion can be coordinated with the mudroom bathroom, and the shower simply installed in this bathroom.
- Clothes washing and drying location and capability / The installation of an inexpensive clothes washer and dryer in the mudroom is also a recommendation. Think about the practicality of washing the children’s dirty clothes in a separate facility other than the primary washer and dryer, located in the home. This washing facility could also be used by anyone having to wash garage towels or rags, that are used to wash and clean the cars or other cleaning elements. In addition, the installation of a slop sink, such as would be installed in a commercial janitors closet, although not expensive to install, would provide an extremely practical solution to exterior wash-down of sports equipment, lawn furniture, etc. The uses of this type of sink is endless and exterior entertainment would also be enhanced with these facilities.
- Location of exterior hose bibs / During the design and construction of a home, it is both economical and practical to locate hose bibs, in several practical locations on the exterior of the home. The cost of the installation of a hose bib, during construction is inexpensive, and the practicality and usage of various hose bibs located at several locations around the home will be extremely beneficial to the upkeep of the home, as well as filling children’s pools, etc.
- Access to the basement from the exterior / The ability to access the basement from the exterior of the home will eliminate the need to enter the primary home for toys or sports equipment. The family home that I had designed had an exterior entry into the downstairs finished basement. This entry saved the main home from the constant entering of children, as they looked for toys and sports equipment. In addition, the exterior access allowed entry without the need to take off shoes and worry about bringing the dirt, leaves, and whatever else was on the children’s shoes, into the home. Additionally, the practicality and convenience of accessing the lower level of any home from the exterior adds to the total functionality of the lower level and the exterior spaces of the home.
- Extra garage space / Consideration should be made for additional room in the garage spaces of the home. I had designed a rear door into my garage space, which was enlarged by deepening a standard two car garage space by 16 feet. This additional 16 feet of depth, allowed the storage of not only yard equipment, but sports equipment, bicycles and exterior games and toys. In addition, the additional space allowed the family to park another vehicle if necessary. You will always require additional covered space, with a family, and the garage is a convenient and economical location for extension of the walls and roof.
- Exterior storage space with a lean to structure / Additional space will always be required with a family and one of the easiest and most economical ways to add covered space is to add a lean to space against the existing garage or home. If the structure is being designed as a new structure, then the use of the lean to method of construction is recommended due to its economical means of creating covered space. In addition, the lean to can be accessed from the exterior of the home without the need to modify the interior of the home in anyway.
- Additional exterior pavement/ The enlargement of areas of the driveway should be considered. This additional pavement area will allow the use of the additional asphalt for parking as well as a basketball hoop, roller skating, skate boarding, etc. Children enjoy hard surfaces for biking and playing and additional asphalt is an inexpensive means of achieving some additional hard surfaces for your children to enjoy.
- Bathroom off of every bedroom / Although this concept may appear somewhat overkill, the ability of each child to have their own bathroom, immediately off their bedroom, will save the wear and tear on the primary bathroom areas, as well as the remainder of the home. Although the cost of the initial construction may break the budget, the installation of modest bathroom facilities, off of each bedroom, will also allow the use of these same bedrooms as guest rooms, once the children leave. In addition, if your children do decide to return to the nest, they will have their own area, inclusive of their own bathrooms. This recommendation should at least be discussed and analyzed. The cost of additional bathrooms at the time of design and construction, is much more practical and economical, in comparison to adding additional bathroom facilities to an existing home.
- Scattered storage areas around the home / The ability to store toys and sports equipment in smaller, scattered storage areas, located throughout the home should be considered. All parents, especially in today’s society, will agree that the accumulation of “stuff “with children is incredible. I personally understand this; we had removed most of our miscellaneous stuff after our children left the house. Both my wife and I were quite proud of ourselves due to our ability to purge. This lasted approximately 3 years and with the blessing of grandchildren, we are back to the need to store toys, sports equipment, etc. Our society is blessed to have this type of problem, however, the best management technique, is to have smaller storage nooks, crannies or closets around the home to hide all the “ stuff “ . A real family home, can be disguised to look like a home out of House Beautiful, if and only if, there are ample areas to hide all the stuff!
- Maintenance / A home designed for children should be easily maintained. Please refer to the webpage that identifies a home design based on the ability to maintain the home. It is much better to have a family home designed to accommodate ease of maintenance without substantial time and effort. If you have a family, there is no time to maintain your home and unfortunately, with a family, there will be a lot of additional maintenance required.
The design of a home devoted towards children, will become a home that will function for the rest of your lives. This is the point that this webpage is trying to make. Once the children have left the home, they probably will be back, if not permanently, then as guests. In addition, if you are blessed, they will return with grandchildren that will require the same design of the home as did, your own children. In addition, the openness, storage areas, additional bathrooms, mudroom location, additional garage space, etc. are all qualities constructed in your home to accommodate the family, that will increase the resale value of the home and provide comfort and convenience, even if you are living alone in the home.
The key to this type of design is common sense. A home that is designed for children is a common sense home that offers ease of living, as well as simple maintenance.