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Quaint spaces made special

Quaint spaces made special

Professional Builder's House Review design team shows how small details added to a stairway landing, hallway, foyer, or porch can be the special touch that transforms a house into a home.

By Larry Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer April 16, 2014
This article first appeared in the PB September 2013 issue of Pro Builder.

When we asked our design team to submit ideas for quaint spaces and special features, I knew we were in for some pleasant surprises. After all, it often is the unique details that really define any home. On the following pages, you'll see solutions for some practical design issues. For instance, although open-concept designs provide a more spacious living area, the available wall space for photos, art, and furniture often become quite limited. You'll see how to find a place for these items in staircases, alcoves, and expanded hallways. As we minimize the overall size of many new homes, front and rear porches can offer additional dining and entertaining areas. Carving out a quaint space for a bookcase, unique alcoves where children can play, homework areas, and family entries are all creative ideas that the team presents to help make a house a home.

Quaint Spaces

More Quaint Spaces

Huntington Woods

Special Features

For past House Review topics, click here.


Quaint Spaces

Donald F. Evans, AIA
The Evans Group
Spaces that make a house a home are the focus of this month's article. Some of those spaces include these ideas:
Found spaces ? First, a secluded play area beyond the upper bunk?a tree house in their bedroom. Second, a phone and bookcase niche under the stairs in this family friendly home. These found spaces are located during a framing walk through with the builder, architect, and interior designer taking a second look.

Friends? foyer ? A foyer space for the back-door friends and family. The foyer is the perfect family drop zone for book bags, sports equipment, and lunch boxes, or for the adults with keys, coats, umbrellas, and dog leashes.

Front and rear porches ? Outdoor spaces that live like interior spaces with indoor-quality furniture and finishes, expanding the livable square footage of the home.

Homework central ? An organized space for the children to do their homework, tutoring, and even home schooling.

Kids? playroom ? A dedicated space for the toys and serious fun. This playroom is complete with a stage, curtain, and marquee announcing the next performance.

The man cave ? No matter his passion, whether he wants a room for TV viewing or for all of his trophies, here is a room that the guys can call their own.



More Quaint Spaces

Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD
Many of the features we appreciate in older homes built during the early 1900s are the quaint alcoves and built-ins. As we strive to make our current designs more and more efficient, keep in mind that these functional details often become the most appealing features of a home.

A small alcove carved out of the foyer or gallery becomes an ideal location for the piano that used to reside in the formal living room.

Expanding a staircase landing by 18 inches offers additional display space while also enhancing the character of the stairs. Even if there?s no opportunity to expand the landing, simple moulding can create a ledge for photo frames.
Porches provide inviting areas that expand the living space of any home, while a small screened area can actually be a functional dining room.

Hallways can be widened just a few inches and become wonderful family photo galleries.

Finally, the home theater can do double duty as a home office by adding an alcove with built-in desk, file drawers, and bookcases. Who wouldn?t want to work here?



Huntington Woods

Rick Garza
RPGA Design Group Inc.
Plan size
First floor living: 2,970 sf
Second floor living: 2,210 sf
Total living: 5,180 sf
Porch: 1,082 sf
Garage: 916 sf
Great care was used with this design to create a series of special features and spaces that are easily accessible, making the home a livable place for young children and aging adults. During the design phase of a home, it?s necessary to look at specific needs for the entire life of the end user in order to make the house forever a home. Wider hallways, larger bathrooms, office space, family gathering rooms, and entertaining spaces provide a flexible home for the entire family.
A. Open space from kitchen, breakfast, and warming room
B. Natural light and tall ceilings
C. Built-ins around fireplace for storage
D. Sitting area in master suite 
E. Covered patio area for entertaining
F. Media/game room
G. Built-in bench
H. Home office



Special Features

Todd Hallett, AIA, CAPS
TK Design and Architecture
Quaint spaces are cozy, warm, and inviting. Appropriate detailing is critical when defining these spaces. Take a pocket office for instance; it should have a countertop, doors that have parking spaces when opened, and space for storage. Without these details the pocket office is just a large closet. The same applies to the family entrance. This space should have a bench, lockers, hooks for jackets, and a drop zone. Otherwise it is just a hall. Quaint spaces are not confined to just the indoors. Elements that blend the lines of indoor/outdoor spaces can be quaint as well, so creating an outdoor room brings another element into space making.

Arches, trim, and pilasters turn an indoor/outdoor space into an inviting room, The rich color of the wood warms up the space. Adding greenery to a presentation further blurs the lines of outdoor/indoor.

Interior transom glass above the doorway mimics the transoms over the exterior doors. This feature provides another light source and creates a warm glow in the evening. Details like the shelves, built-in television unit, trim, and accessories warm the space.

Large boulders provide a sunken feeling to the space, making it more cozy. A fire pit provides a compelling reason to utilize this outdoor room.

Open air transoms provide a sense of scale to tall ceilings and are inexpensive to build. Changing levels is a great tool for a designer to utilize when creating a quaint spa.


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