Friday, October 21, 2005
Customize House Plans: Plan pathways to create flow in home
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
If you own a home, you own space. The question is, how does that space flow?
A clear flow of movement from room to room creates a sense of order that contributes to feelings of calm and peace in a home. Some people may call this Feng Shui, but we simply call it good design. Here are some ideas to help your home flow smoothly.
Homes built in the early 20th century were generally designed with few halls (or little "circulation space"). In these homes, one room is often accessed by passing through another, such as going through the dining room to get to the kitchen or going through the living room to get to a bedroom. However, whether there is a hall or not, the act of moving from room to room still happens; circulation paths are carved out whether or not you plan them.
By the 1950s, dedicated hallways appeared more frequently in home designs. They were often long, dark, and narrow with a series of doors lining each side.
Today, we take the best of both approaches. Circulation pathways need to be defined, but not necessarily by a physical hallway. You can create flow by arranging your furniture so it naturally separates where you walk and where you sit. You can also indicate circulation paths by using a different floor covering for traffic areas. Columns, beams, ceiling height, and deliberate lighting all help identify circulation paths in your home.
Because moving from floor to floor requires a staircase, stairs can become a point of drama in your circulation system. They can be straight, curved, circular, L-shaped or U-shaped. The minimum width for stairs is three feet, but opening up a staircase by removing a wall allows the space to flow more easily from one level to the other and creates the impression of a larger home.
Because circulation paths are among the most used spaces in the house, it is important to make them not only functional but also pleasant. One way to accomplish this is through lighting. A window at the end of a circulation path will provide natural light and something to walk toward. If a window is not feasible, the same effect can be created with directed lighting that highlights a piece of art or a floral arrangement.
Take a few moments this week to watch how people circulate through your home. Are the circulation routes direct, clearly defined, and unobstructed? Are the paths wide enough for two people to pass comfortably? Are they well lit and pleasant?
Remember, a clear flow of movement in a home helps create a sense of order, calm, and peace — characteristics that will improve any home. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.