02 Nov 2007

Using It — Every Space, Every Day

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I have too many things I don’t use. Much of it is my fault. Like many Americans, I’m blessed with all the necessities and an abundance of extras. Those extras include too many music CDs, novelty clothes, trinkets and memorabilia that seemed important at the time, but still remain packed in boxes left over from the move. How important could those extras be if I rarely use them? In contrast, I have a few things that seem important because I use them every single day — my computer, my wedding band and my wallet. My house is also something I use every day thanks to a lifestyle choice I call “every space, every day“.

When I read through trade magazines and peruse the custom home awards for five, six, seven and more than 10,000 square feet houses, I wonder how those families use every space every day. Those estates must house an army or an incredibly hyperactive family. But often those mansions are littered with extra spaces such as media rooms, bonus rooms, formal living rooms, formal dining rooms, torture chambers, hobby shops, wine cellars, dance studios and if you have your own version of the Hatfields and McCoys — maybe two of each.

Some homeowners may use several of those spaces every day but others remain unused until a special occasion. I realize practical has no application in a 10,000 SF house, but we have all of those spaces in a house 1/5 that size and we use them every single day.

When we designed this house, our budget drove a right-sized home, but even if we had a grand budget, we considered utility consumption, maintenance cost, cleaning time/materials and the wasted cost of building an unused space. In fact, we eliminated or combined several spaces because extra spaces cost money every day. We designed swing spaces to give us living flexibility to meet our everyday needs yet expand to meet our special interests.

When we programmed our house spaces, we requested a library, hobby room, office, exercise space and guest room. We realized the extra spaces were like my dusty CD collection, outdated novelty clothes and forgettable trinkets, so we morphed speciality spaces to create every-day spaces. Our second living space is an every day entertainment room, a client waiting room or a guest room. Opening the stereo converts our main living room into a media room. Add a few more bodies and rearrange the sofas and it’s a wide-open entertainment space. Our hobby room is a quadraspace — craft room, reading nook, home office and laundry space. We have it all — the basic necessities and extras courtesy a little every-day space-planning ingenuity which means we can live large on a modest budget.

About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.