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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Strive for year-round functionality in holiday remodels

By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer

The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for gatherings, so it is also the time when your home's capacity and functionality are tested.

This is when you learn (or remember) you really could use that extra bedroom for Grandma, your dining room isn't quite big enough when you add that second leaf in the table, and that it might be nice if your guests didn't have to pass through a bedroom to get to the bathroom.

This bathroom was remodeled to be shared by two guest rooms. The toilet and the tub behind another door add functionality.

Therefore, it is about this time of year that many of our clients start discussing options for remodeling. If one of their goals is to have a home that lends itself to entertaining, they often consider great rooms, guest bedrooms and additional bathrooms during the planning process.

While issues related to gathering or entertaining may be the catalyst for finally talking to an architect, we help our clients determine how they want their homes to function in everyday life as well as when company visits. The remodel has to make sense for more than Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Adding extra rooms for occasional guests can be more than just a luxury if you plan a room that can be used for multiple purposes.

Examples include an office with a Murphy bed, a craft room with enclosed cabinets and a trundle bed, or a hide-a-bed couch in a library. Depending on your needs, you can design your seasonal guest room to function actively during the rest of the year.

Additional bathrooms are also a common wish. It could make a pleasant difference if your dinner guests could use a powder room as opposed to the children's bathroom.

Likewise, a private bathroom associated with a guest room makes for a more relaxing long-term visit.

Your guests will feel more welcome if they don't feel they are disrupting the normal routine of the household.

While extra bedrooms are fairly cost-effective to create, bathrooms get a little more complicated and expensive with plumbing and electrical costs.

In addition, the simple finishes of a bedroom (painted walls with carpet on the floor) are a bargain compared to the tile, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures required in a bathroom.

However, those extra costs also bring added value.

Adding a bathroom of any size changes the ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms and automatically increases the market value of your home.

Now that your guests have a comfortable place to stay, they need a place to party.

Most social gatherings, especially around this time of year, are associated with food. Even preparing the food becomes a bit of a party with some families. Therefore, the kitchen is often the place to be.

That is why the kitchen/great room concept lends itself well to party people.

In fact, many of our clients who have finished great-room remodels say they entertain more, even if they weren't entertainers before.

They say they are more likely to be the host (or be volunteered to be the host) because their home is more comfortable with a designated gathering space.

Again, you can't justify remodeling only for special occasions. You have to look at your family and determine if transitioning a living room, dining room and kitchen into a great room is right for you and your stage of life.

If you''re considering creating a great room to increase your gathering space, begin by analyzing how your family functions and allocate and arrange the space accordingly.

Make sure your design clearly defines each space and function so your new area doesn't feel like a warehouse or furniture showroom.

While you may no longer want that formal dining room, you want to make sure you have a gracious dining area rather than a table stuck in your kitchen.

A renovation that enhances and supports your lifestyle will embrace those who live in the home, as well as family and friends who gather there.

Don't put this off another year; now is the time to begin your project so you will have an even merrier holiday season next year! As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2009 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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