In the process of building our new home we came up with several ideas for how a modern home should be organized. Some ideas we used, some got cut for various reason. Here are some of the ideas.

GIFT WRAPPING SPACE: We imagined a small workbench space just off the garage that is designed for wrapping gifts. It's always someone's birthday, either friend or family. And you want it near the garage because most gifts enter, get wrapped then exit or move to storage. That space didn't make it into the final design.

HOME THEATER: Home theaters aren't new. What we did different is locate ours (seats 10) adjacent to the family room, across from the kitchen. That way it's integrated with the main entertainment area and near the food. The theater's double doors will have a large circular glass center so the space is visually connected to the family room. It's ideal for entertaining during the Superbowl, Oscars, Grammys, etc. because adjacent family room will have a smaller TV for the overflow crowd.

UNCONDITIONED FOYER: My pet peeve is huge foyers. A foyer just sits there looking pretty, sucking up your energy for heating and cooling. We built our foyer outside the conditioned space, within an entryway tower. When finished we hope it will have the same visual "pop" as an indoor foyer but without the energy suckiness.

CAT'S BATHROOM: We built a small space just off the laundry room for the cat's litter box. Most houses have pets, but few are designed for them. We fixed that.

PING PONG GARAGE SPACE: Relative to the cost of building a house, adding a few feet to the garage is cheap, and you don't need to heat or cool that space. In California, garage space is useful year round even unheated. So we included some extra space for a ping pong table. They're great for entertaining. Everyone plays ping pong.

TEMPORARY HOLDING SPACE: Every time a member of the family enters the house, something gets plopped on a table surface. It might be school projects, the mail, something from a store, a DVD, an iPod, you name it. Every flat surface becomes the temporary holding place for things that belong elsewhere. Our new home won't solve that problem, but I fantasize about a special room just off the garage that does nothing but hold all the crap that will later get sorted to appropriate storage places.

PROPER HOME OFFICE: When an office is designed in a home, it's usually the space just off the front door. I can't imagine a worse place for an office. A working office will generally be a bit messy, a tangle of cords, and not the first impression you want to leave guests. My office will be upstairs, on a corner, away from the action of the house, with a view. And the room will be largish. If you intend to work in a home office for ten hours a day, you don't want it to be a closet.

TOY JAIL: This is a closet on the first floor, near the stairway to the second floor, used for jailing any toys that the kids neglected to pick up and bring back to their rooms. The closet isn't locked. It's just a way for the adults to tuck the debris out of the way when they want things tidy in a hurry.

MOM'S COMPUTER COCKPIT: Our current townhouse is small and didn't have any extra rooms for the home computer. So the computer ended up in what should have been the living room, just off the main entry. This turned out to be accidentally brilliant because the computer is central to all the activity in the house and it gets used day and night. It is especially handy having it on the path to the garage because we always need to check e-mail or directions on the way out. Our new home has the computer cockpit just off the kitchen/family area, right next to the door to the garage.

NO MUSEUM ROOMS: Few things are a bigger waste of space than a formal living room. Our new home won't have one. That's the square footage that should be your home office, if you need one, or your home theater.

Another big waste of space is a formal dining room that is in its own area away from the action. Our dining room table will be integrated with the kitchen/family room area and casual in design, probably with bench seating. If the Queen wants to visit, we'll throw a tablecloth over it.

OUTDOOR LIVING: Relative to the cost of the house, it's inexpensive to include a large roofed patio, or lanai. In California you can use it most of the year. I expect it to be the most popular space in our home, and it costs the least. Depending on your insect situation, you might prefer a screened porch for the same reason.

NO HALLWAYS: We tried to design the home with as few hallways as possible. Hallways are a waste of space and energy. We designed our family room to be the connecting space for most of the downstairs rooms. We couldn't avoid all hallways, but we tried to make use of them for other functions where possible.

CHRISTMAS TREE CLOSET: It's a bother to crawl around in the attic every December to get the holiday decorations, only to be putting them away a month later. We designed a closet just off the family room that will hold all the holiday stuff, just yards from where most of it needs to be in December. As soon as I convince my wife that artificial trees are the way to go (a tough sale) I will be on easy street. Every year I'll have the tree up and decorated in about five minutes.

WIRING CLOSET: We have a closet where all the wiring will meet. It's located roughly in the center of the house and shares a wall with the home theater, housing that equipment as well. That will make life easier as technology evolves.

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Apr 7, 2009
One day you should be sympathetic to our cognitive dissonance and explain why you celebrate xmas. ;)
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
You're building a home? Now? Why not buy one?

Oh, that's right. The market is too tight. Not too many available.....
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
Hi Scott,

You have written so much about your new home that we cant wait to see the pics of your new home.
So when are you posting these on your blog??


0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
I agree with you about formal dining rooms being a waste of space. I have 5 kids, a 5 bedroom home (1 bedroom downstairs is our computer room, so, really we have 4 to sleep in) and I'm an artist who really, desperately would love to trade in that dining room for an art studio. I look at that empty, clean room with contempt, every time I get the urge to paint.

I love the cat bathroom idea, too. I suggest putting a small window in there you can open for ventilation, sunshine and a spot for the cat to sit and watch birds.

I suggest double hung windows and NOT casement windows. I have casement windows and they SUCK. WInd blows them off track, rain hits the wood work and rots it and when you have your windows open they stick out.

Good luck with your house! Did you get another cat after your sweet cat died? What a lucky cat to have it's own bathroom.
Apr 7, 2009
These are some great ideas - thank you. It's fun to think about.

My parents are just finishing their house, and they put the gift-wrapping station in the laundry room. It is right off the garage, and the large flat surface can then be used for sorting/folding clothes when there are no gifts to wrap.

Apr 7, 2009
Love it Scott!! Thanks for sharing your ideas. Perhaps when my dream home is built, I will integrate a few. (Especially the cat bathroom and no hallways!)

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
I posted this before but what about this: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/23/the-ecodrain-cuts-water-heater-use-by-40/

Also, I would love to see the blueprints of the house.
Apr 7, 2009
Sounds intriguing. Any chance you could post the floor plans for the house? I'd like to be able to put it all together. How long until it's complete?
Apr 7, 2009
Great ideas, particularly for the office and the various stragetic closests. Also, a 10 seat home theater with glass doors? A-oh! Nice.
Apr 7, 2009
Please post a floor-plan and/or pictures, Scott. We would all love to see what it really looks like.
Apr 7, 2009
I would love to see a drawing of your layout, it sounds like there are a few new ideas that weren't on your older drawing. Also, some 3-D drawings for features that aren't as impressive or don't make sense on an overhead view.

Did you waste any outlets by connecting them to switches? I think it's ridiculous to hook a switch up to an outlet that MIGHT get used for a lamp that's not big enough to illuminate the room. Switches should be hooked up to overhead lights. If a central overhead light won't be enough, put multiple lights, or sate"lights" around the room to light up the corners, or strip lighting.

Aardwizz was right about having a drain in the laundry room, don't forget there should be one for the hot water heater pressure relief, and the pan under the heater should be piped to it. My hot water heater was warrantied for 6 years, and at the 6 year 3 month point, it ruptured halfway up. Not on a seam, just "pop". Without the pan piped to the drain, if I hadn't turned off the water right away I would have had 25 gallons 20 gallons/minute flowing out and eventually making it to the drain.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
I, like most people, have a tiny house which doesnt have any of the rooms on the list.
saved me the headache!
Apr 7, 2009
Be sure to install proper ventilation in the cat's bathroom. The stench can be deadly. A utility sink in the room will be handy too for cleaning out the litter box.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
You should write a book about all this.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
Just make sure your wiring closet and restrooms are clearly marked during sporting events.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
I predict that your christmas tree room will get filled with random crap throughout the year and you'll have to dig it all out before you can put your tree up, then find somewhere else to put it before you take the tree down.
Apr 7, 2009
The wiring closet sounds dangerous. Does it have any features to mitigate the fire hazard created by centralizing all your wiring?
Apr 7, 2009
Scott -
In reference to your wiring closet (a great idea that I wish I had in my place): I always thought it'd be a great idea for such a wiring closet sharing a wall with the entertainment room to have removable panels on that wall. The way I see it, you could enter the wiring closet behind the entertainment room, unlock a panel, remove it and gain instant easy access to the TV/DVD player/Stereo/etc equipment wiring. I know that no one can like crouching down or behind your TVs to hook up or unhook something from the rats nest of wires back there.
Apr 7, 2009
>CAT'S BATHROOM: We built a small space just off the laundry room for the cat's litter box. Most houses have pets, but few are designed for them. We fixed that.

You're my hero!
Way to go.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 7, 2009
Did you include a central vac system in your house? Oh, and a really cheap luxury, but must have - a tap that heats water to 190 degrees that has been filtered. No need to boil water for tea, soup, raman noodles, or my coffee press.

[Yes on both. -- Scott]
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